By Jordan Beach
Before knowing how to proceed to the present moment, the act of looking back on history offers personalized wisdom in a way that lights a path forward.
Reinhardt University President Kina S. Mallard used the State of the University Address on Aug. 12 to reflect on Reinhardt’s past, using stories of leaders and alumni that revealed ways for its current students, faculty and staff to move into the approaching school year.
“These stories of resilience and impact are part of our past, but they are also part of our present,” said Mallard.
Throughout her address, Mallard noted experiences that built the campus to become the strong foundation in the lives of students that enables them to thrive—at Reinhardt and in life.
“These stories are markers in Reinhardt’s history where events and circumstances conspired to bring about situations…from which Reinhardt overcame the predictions and emerged stronger and triumphantly. These are stories of resiliency. Stories of faculty, staff and leaders God called to the little town of Waleska to live out their calling as educators.”
Mallard included insight from alumni who remarked on the impact that their professors and the staff they worked with made on their lives, changing and transforming so much more than their minds as their time on campus proved to educate their mind, heart and soul, a testament to Reinhardt’s mission to educate the whole person.
“These are your stories. This is your impact. This is the work God has called you to do – to create a unique Reinhardt experience where each student thrives,” she told the faculty and staff in attendance. “To accept the challenge to see students as more than just their IQ – to see them in the fullness of humanity and to help them develop spiritually, socially, physically, personally and vocationally, as well as intellectually.”
Dr. Donna Little’s reading of the poem “Skyward,” by Carson-Newman professor Dr. Susan Underwood, represented the dedicated members of the Reinhardt community who make those pivotal experiences possible. The poem was written to honor the work faculty completed for her institution and other private, liberal arts institutions.
“The seeds of that new morning, untamed, bold and vivid, will mark the home we pictured long ago for these our children. Though not by birth or name, they are the offspring of our work, the sapling flame we tended, future bloom of our devotion. We owe to them our vision of a brand-new terrain,” Underwood wrote of the higher education experience.
As part of the State of the Union address, student body president Joshua Teague introduced the Reinhardt University’s guiding scripture for the year, Jeremiah 29:13, which says, “If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find Me” (NLT). Teague pointed to the prominence of this verse, saying if the University puts God first in everything and works together wholeheartedly, then God will work to lead us toward success.