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A New Season

Transition Brings New Possibilities

By Philip W. Eaton, President

President Eaton

I've been thinking a great deal about the seasons. One that grabs my attention always is the passing from summer to fall. Almost every year I feel that slight ache, that tinge of regret, as we suddenly sense the light changing, the evening air growing startlingly crisp.

Are we ready to let go? Well, not really. We love the long light of summer, but the seasons roll on, with new beauty poised to break out in flaming color. Yes, indeed, let go. God created these seasons — best to roll with them, even if reluctantly at first.

A few months ago, a number of faculty members were commenting about how spectacularly beautiful the fall was on our campus this year. Huge bursts of bright red and so many subtle yellows. The faculty were talking about how little we are equipped in our busy lives to slow down, to pause, to ponder before this dazzle of creation slowly unfolding. Fall is a season that seems to call for us to pause, to reflect, perhaps to think a bit more deeply about things.

Maybe fall is the way to talk about the season into which Sharon and I are moving. As of July 1, 2012, I will be retiring from my role as president of Seattle Pacific University. This is a huge change in our lives, and a change to be sure for this great university we love so dearly. There is something at this moment that calls us to pause, to remember deeply, to be attentive to our last moments, to ponder what's out ahead.

I can't believe how many times we say, "Well, this is the last time we will be doing this." There is something sad about that part of this season. But then, it is also so full of rich and beautiful remembering, so full of exhilarating possibilities about what we will do instead of what we've done for 17 years.

"As of July 1, 2012, I will be retiring from my role as president of Seattle Pacific University."

Our early spring beginnings at Seattle Pacific were glorious, all consuming, busy to the limits, intensely focused on the life of the University, on new initiatives, resources, and especially the people. The early days were so full of energy we barely knew what we were doing, launching so many things, planning for a long future out ahead, working so closely with such competent colleagues. Plenty of time out ahead to get done what we wanted to do. That's what spring makes us feel.

And then summer arrived before we knew it. Perhaps the summer season was a time to linger a bit, perhaps a time of maturing. But it was also a summer of hard work, of implementation, a time of completion, a time for even new planning. Of course there were the winters of discontent, but those never seemed to last very long.

As the campus community builds with fresh excitement about new beginnings under new leadership, I am delighted to anticipate with everyone that new season for Seattle Pacific. There is a buzz in the air about what's to come. It will be a time of realigning with the deepest purposes of Seattle Pacific and a time to think about what can be done out ahead. I will be standing by to cheer the progress in every way, and help in whatever way possible.

What's ahead for Sharon and me? Purposeful uncertainty, I've been saying. Lots of thoughts about what we would like to accomplish, lots of opportunities, lots of dreams cooking in my head and my heart. I would like to contribute in some way to the work of Christian organizations, perhaps especially Christian universities. I would like to help young leaders, out of my long experience, to negotiate the turbulent waters of leadership in our moment in time. I will continue to write about faith and culture, the Scriptures, and literature.

And of course we will open a new season for family. But now, for me and for Sharon, it is fall, the season of most dramatic transition for our lives. In this year ahead, I hope we can find the time to pause, to think deeply about what we have been through, to gather the rich memories, and to look out ahead for another roll of the seasons, for the first time in 17 years to see it all in very new ways.

And I will be watching with deep interest and great excitement as Seattle Pacific rolls into a new season as well.