Reflections Bill Steinbrink ’64 Looks Back on His Year as Interim President
As the interim president during the 13-month gap between the departure of President Baird Tipson and the arrival of President Mark Erickson, I saw the university with the unique, broad perspective of the one in the president’s chair. I met frequently with student leaders, became acquainted with many of our strong academic performers, marveled at the skills of our artistically inclined students and their athletically enabled compatriots, and was amused by the behavior of our students as they work through the transition from teenagers to adults. I was impressed by the leadership of First-Year Class President Mark Preston ’08 and the poise of Alma Mater Ann Bixel ’05.
The 162 dedicated professors and scholars who fill our faculty ranks, however, stand out the most in my mind. Wittenberg traditions are memorable; athletic victories are exciting; college friendships are everlasting, but the faculty is the raison d’être of Wittenberg and the underlying attraction for students to come to Springfield. From Nelson Sartoris, who retired during the year as a professor of chemistry, to D’Arcy Fallon, who this year began her promising Wittenberg career teaching English, the faculty enable learning to happen. Each professor has a personal style and a different slant on the subject matter, but they all help students develop a lifelong love of learning.
I experienced the joy of accepting a major gift from a graduate of a class from the early ’50s. I met with Representative Dave Hobson, who grasps the vitality of Wittenberg to his constituency.
These and many other alumni and friends are essential to year-to-year operations and one-time projects. Helping students learn and learn how to keep on learning after graduation requires resources from church congregations, governments and grateful graduates, as well as the families of those students. I found the breadth of that support humbling.
My intimacy with Wittenberg helped me also see the challenges before the university, including the need for a consistent annual enrollment, facility upgrades, an endowment that equates with our peer institutions, and a stronger annual fund stream, all of which I know Mark Erickson will address with confidence and integrity.
Mark Erickson will be an outstanding president. He has the capacity and willingness to listen, learn and battle with ideas. He has the intellect to work to good decisions. He has the strength to take action and lead Wittenberg forward. He will honor the heritage of the German Lutherans and the leaders of a bustling Springfield who founded Wittenberg 160 years ago.
Wittenberg is a wonderful place. For me, Wittenberg was a critical experience at the beginning of my adult life, and it has been a re-awakening now as I see in the offing the winding-down phase of my life. I am grateful to Wittenberg for this most recent opportunity to continue learning and to serve, and I look forward to working with the entire Wittenberg community again as the chair of the university’s board of directors this year.