President’s Message – Winter 2020
In life there are certain milestones. I remember when I turned 16 and got my Driver’s License soon after. Saying “I do,” to my wife, Kathy, was a big one. Graduating from college and starting my career as a pastor happened almost simultaneously; what a change. Generally big progress markers not only represent a celebration of what has been happening, they identify points when new plans and agendas need to kick in. As a friend of mine used to say, “The Lord didn’t bring us here for nothing.” PIU just achieved a major milestone. On November 5, 2019, at about 8:00 AM, in Garden Grove California, VP Nino Pate’ and I took our place before the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools Commission. TRACS is our accrediting agency. This was the culmination of more than a year-and-half of work involving virtually all the PIU Team. PIU was awarded Reaffirmation II Status as a Category III Institution by the TRACS Accreditation Commission. This reaffirmation is for a ten-year period. For those of you who don’t speak academic-ese, this is good, very good.
Here are two word pictures that I frequently use, trying to communicate the current condition of and future hopes for PIU. When you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is to stop digging. We need to get past surviving, and move on to thriving. In my almost seventy years of life, I’ve dug some fairly impressive holes. Usually, I was looking for something, a buried pipe, or solid ground to build on. That morning a few weeks ago, when I heard that long-awaited verdict by the TRACS Commission, it was like the sound of a shovel striking metal. Until that moment, I thought there was a bottom to the hole. That confidence, though wavering, was enough to motivate me to lead our dedicated team to continue on, but hearing the metallic certainty of “awarded Reaffirmation” brought a soul-satisfying certitude.
Survival and hope are hand-in-hand partners. Hope provides motivation to do the hard work of survival. Take away the hope of something better—of thriving—and . . . that’s why people, families, and schools like PIU die. We have made it thus far. The clank of certainty tells me, “Start building, here.” There are many components involved in PIU thriving.
A key component is our status as an accredited institution of higher learning. Not only is it the mark that says, “This is an institution you can trust. It has passed the test,” our accreditation also opens access to PIU students receiving Pell Grants, making it possible for our students to pay for their education. It is a big part of our accessibility. Our renewed accreditation announces a new phase in the life of PIU. We are ready to build—to build a thriving school to
the glory of God.
We cannot do that alone. I began writing this toward the end of a five-week trip. My journey not only included attendance at the TRACS Conference in California, but visits to three very impressive Christian higher-education campuses. Two recently raised $40,000,000+/each in capital campaigns. Though the Dr. David Owen Memorial Fund goal of raising $200,000 represents half -a-percent, of the efforts of those schools, it is an incredibly important project for PIU. It will put us on the path toward thriving. Find out more at the DDOMF Blog (https://piuddomf.blogspot.com/). The blog explains how you can join those who have already contributed to this fund.
I’ve been on another journey for a while, now. In my almost half-a-century of ministry, I have observed the difference that Biblically thinking leaders make in their world. An island church leader, a friend of mine, often refers to PIU as “our school.” PIU was founded by Liebenzell Mission, and the three Evangelical church fellowships it planted in Western Micronesia. PIU remains true to the vision of its founders. Our mission is “to prepare men and women with a biblical worldview for leadership and service in life, work, and ministry in the global community and the church.” We invite you to join in this effort to honor, not just Dr. Owen, but all those who sacrificially invested in this mission.
Looking to the future, you can say, “This is my school, and, by God’s grace, I will help it thrive.” – Howard Merrell