University board members come and go. In fact, it’s common for a board member to serve a term or two and then disassociate from the school with little involvement and support thereafter.
While serving, some board members only attend board meetings and offer little involvement outside the boardroom.
Others are highly involved and engage themselves in numerous activities and ways of supporting the president, raising funds, generating interest for the school, seeking out potential students, searching out new board members, and offering ongoing encouragement to the president and the leadership team. These board members generally relate to the school in the same engaged way following their term of service.
For over 23 years, I had the distinct privilege of serving on a major Christian university board (Trinity Western University) and have worked with both types of board members.
As chairman for five years, I developed meaningful and productive bonds with the president, the administrators, fellow board members, the deans, and many faculty members. I also gained an intimate knowledge of the strengths of the school and its potential for future development.
As my tenure came to close, I reflected on what role I might continue to play for the university to which I gave twenty-three years of my life. Many projects I supported as a board member were still viable and worthy of my ongoing support.
Realizing that students attending a Christian higher educational institution are often in need of and profoundly worthy of financial support and assistance, I concluded that I could best serve by taking on the task of establishing endowed scholarships for the university.
Considering the number of viable contacts I had in my own sphere of influence that I generated during my tenure as a board member, it became increasingly obvious that this was the best way to support the school I came to love, respect, and of which I felt proud.
I proceeded to undertake this worthy project, and over five years the following scholarships were developed and funded:
- The California Scholarship Fund for any student attending a school from the state of California.
- The Washington State Scholarship Fund for any student attending a university from the State of Washington.
- The Oregon State Scholarship Fund for any student from the State of Oregon attending the university.
- The Psychology Scholarship Fund for any student majoring in the field of psychology at the graduate level.
- The Hedberg Family Scholarship Fund for any student majoring in a field of study that reflected one of the areas of professional studies of the Hedberg family. These included education, nursing, psychology, business, Biblical studies, and communications.
Endowing scholarships such as these is a significant area of contribution for any retiring board members of a Christian university. Consider the following:
- Scholarships provide financial strength for the university to borrow money and function within the financial marketplace as need exists.
- Scholarships attract students who may not otherwise have the financial means to attend the school.
- Scholarships encourage students as they learn about the commitment that many people made on their personal behalf.
- Finally, scholarships encourage other board members and friends of a university to contribute in a meaningful way.
And what a delight to read the many letters of gratitude and appreciation for how a student’s life was benefited and changed by the scholarship made available to them.
Many shared their own personal and financial struggles and how the scholarship was the factor that enabled them to enroll and attend the university. Many went on in their fields of study to became influential Christian leaders within the marketplaces of life.
This is what makes the support of higher Christian education satisfying and rewarding.
After serving on a university board and experiencing the changes that took place in the personal lives of the students, it is hard to imagine why a departing board member would not want to play a significant ongoing role in the future development of a Christian university.
Are you a university board member? If so, please join me in changing lives of students and the communities they will serve by considering how you will use resources and influence available to you.