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A New Chapter | President’s Blog

June 15, 2022

One year ago this week, I began service to Houghton as its 6th president. What a blessing this year has been for me and my family. I am thankful for the Houghton community’s warm welcome and many acts of genuine Christian love and kindness. Your prayers, smiles, and words of encouragement have been more meaningful than you could know. And even more, I am deeply thankful for your willingness to work together to fulfill our mission and calling to provide a Christ-centered, academically challenging education to students from diverse backgrounds and traditions, equipping them to lead and labor as scholar-servants in our rapidly changing world.

Over the last year I have become a student of Houghton history. Houghton is tremendously blessed with a rich history and heritage, complete with account after account of God providing the people and the power for the institution to not only survive, but to grow, to serve, and to flourish, even in the most challenging of circumstances. Houghton’s story is one of God responding to the faith of those He has called to service at Houghton, even in the face of hard times and tremendous challenges. As Houghton’s current leaders, staff, faculty, and students, we are the heirs of generations of prayer, sacrifice, determination, persistence, resilience, and mountain-moving faith.

As many of you know, for a range of reasons, this is a defining moment in the history of Houghton College and Christian higher education. In this moment, our challenges are significant, but our faith and our resolve are firm. Our God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,” (Ephesians 3:20 NIV).

A New Chapter

As has been the case historically with the beginning of a new presidential administration, Houghton has entered a new season. These are my commitments to you as we begin this new chapter together:

Faith & Scripture.

We will remain true to scripture, our mission, and the core convictions of orthodox Christianity. We are one of five institutions of The Wesleyan Church, an evangelical Christian, holiness denomination rooted in the teachings of John Wesley. Houghton stands as a testament to the continued goodness and provision of God, and we remain as committed as ever, to partnership with the church in preaching and teaching the gospel and making disciples of Jesus Christ through the specialized work that we are called to and equipped for in Christian higher education.

Intentional integration of our Christian faith into every aspect of the College’s work has been a hallmark of Houghton. In this new season, scripture and our Christian faith will continue to guide our course and our decision-making, in areas including personnel, finance, spiritual life, athletics, student activities, residence life, curriculum, instruction, scholarship, missions, and service. We commit to that continued intentional integration. As we chart the course forward and make decisions, great and small, we will do so with prayerful consideration, seeking always that God’s will be done through our leadership and service.

A Unified Houghton.

Houghton will operate as one, unified institution, with its mission of providing a Christ-centered education that intentionally integrates Christian faith and academic excellence, carried out through our residential campus, Houghton Online, and Houghton Buffalo. Houghton Online allows us to make a Christ-centered, academically rigorous education accessible to traditional and non-traditional, part-time and full-time students who are not able, due to time, distance, or season of life, to enroll in full-time residential study. Houghton Buffalo, intentionally planted on Buffalo’s historic East Side, makes a Houghton education affordable and accessible in one of the nation’s most underserved and economically disadvantaged urban communities. Houghton’s commitment to partnership with community members and leaders on Buffalo’s East Side is missional. In the aftermath of the Buffalo massacre fueled by racial hate, the need for prayer, Christian love, support, and investment is even greater.

Houghton’s residential campus, Houghton Online, and Houghton Buffalo are three branches of one tree—Houghton College. These branches are different in look, feel, and modality, but interdependent, and all manifestations of the same mission and calling. In Houghton’s next chapter we will more intentionally integrate Houghton’s resources and services with Houghton Buffalo and Houghton Online, including leadership, academic programs, coursework, faculty, spiritual life, technology, enrollment management, marketing, and advancement. We will also make more Houghton Online coursework available to residential and Houghton Buffalo students.

Building Community.

We will continue to intentionally build and nurture a Christ-centered college community that values and prioritizes connectedness. Affirming that each of us has been fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13-15) in the image of God our father (Genesis 1:27), we will continue to build a college community where (a) we recognize and acknowledge hatred, bias, and discrimination as the manifestation of sin; (b) we work, individually and collectively, to grow in our understanding and appreciation of diverse cultures and perspectives; and (c) each community member is loved and respected. Further, we will provide leadership for the church and our communities in offering distinctly Christian, Biblically-based approaches to living and loving across our differences.

Shared Governance.

We will affirm and continue our commitment to the principles of shared governance. As articulated in Houghton’s Compact for Shared Governance (2021), “the shared governance model attempts to recognize the critical and distinct roles of the three sectors of the academic community charged with carrying out the Mission of the institution: first, the Board of Trustees entrusted with ensuring faithfulness and sustainability of Mission; second, the Administration entrusted with ensuring the integrity and sustainability of Mission through the daily operations of the institution; third, the Faculty entrusted with the quintessential task of an academic institution, the education of students. At its best, the shared governance model seeks to ensure that these tasks remain complementary and collaborative rather than competitive.

Guided by our Compact, we will respect that the board, the faculty, and the administration have distinct and complementary roles and areas where each “bears the primary weight of formal responsibility.” Additionally, we recognize that our work and decision-making must take into account “the insights and perspectives of several other specific groups who also have a clear interest and a personal investment in the work of the College,” including students, as represented by the Student Council; staff, as represented by the Staff Council; alumni, as represented by the Alumni Board and Athletics Advisory Board; and the college’s committed and generous donors.

Employees.

We will do more to honor and respect the employees of the College, many of whom have for years sacrificially given their time, talents, and treasure to ensure that the work of the College continues. Our strategic planning and financial decision making will prioritize increasing employee salaries and improving employee benefits. Providing a more competitive compensation package is one important way the College will express its appreciation and respect for the extraordinary service of our staff, faculty, and leaders.

Excellence.

We will continue the dogged pursuit of excellence in every aspect of our being, individually and collectively. Excellence is never accidental. It comes only as the result of intentional and continual pursuit. Even its attainment is fleeting. We will continue to pursue excellence in leadership, in service, in teaching and learning, in scholarship, in athletics, and in undergraduate and graduate academic program offerings—existing ones and exciting new ones to come. We will do so, not out of vanity or for our own glory; but we will passionately, relentlessly, and fearlessly pursue excellence for the glory of God.

Our approach and our pace will be more aggressive than in previous eras. This moment in Houghton’s history and the history of Christian higher education demands that we be deliberate and aggressive. We will not sacrifice discussion and collaboration, but we will not always agree. When we do disagree, we will be respectful of divergent viewpoints, continue to love each other, and commit to moving forward together; but we will move fearlessly forward.

Our challenges in this moment are great, but our God is so much greater. I remain assured of God’s calling and purpose for Houghton, and I am confident, that as long as we are faithful, God will continue to bless us, protect us, and provide for our flourishing.


President Wayne D. Lewis Jr.

About the Author

With 20 years of experience in education, higher education leadership is a calling for Wayne D. Lewis, Jr., President of Houghton College. He is recognized as being a champion for students; focusing on improving educational access, opportunities and experiences for students, including those who have historically been underserved.

Read More about President Lewis