HUNTINGTON, IN-Dr. Howard Whaley, recently retired dean of Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, assumed his new responsibilities as Huntington College's interim president this week. Whaley will fill the post during the sabbatical of HC president G. Blair Dowden.
Huntington College trustees granted Dowden a three-month sabbatical leave for rest, reading, and reflection on issues related to higher education leadership. Dowden has served as president of the Christian liberal arts college since 1991, during which time enrollment has grown by more than 50%, two new residence halls were completed, several new academic programs were launched, and a major capital campaign was begun. For the past six consecutive years, US News and World Report has ranked Huntington College among the best liberal arts colleges in the Midwest.
Stepping in for Dowden is Dr. Howard Whaley, a distinguished Christian educator and noted authority on world missions. Whaley joined the faculty of Moody Bible Institute, one of the nation's best known Bible schools, in 1963. He chaired the Department of Missions from 1973 to 1980, and then served as academic dean from 1980 to 1986. He was then appointed Senior Vice President and Dean of Education and has served as MBI's chief academic officer until his retirement this year.
Whaley has served as a visiting lecturer at Asian Theological Seminary, Manila, Philippines, and a visiting professor at the East-West Center for the Study of Church & Missions, Seoul, Korea. In addition, he has served on the board of a wide variety of missions associations.
He has been the missions editor of Moody Monthly, president of the Association of Evangelical Professors of Missions, and chairman of the Accrediting Commission of the American Association of Bible Colleges.
"There are two things you need to know about this man," said Bill Fisher, Dean of Christian Faith and Life, when he introduced Whaley to the Huntington College student body at chapel today. "You need to know that he loves God, and that he loves students. He has given his life to the service of both."
Whaley is no stranger to Huntington College. His son, Kyle, attended Huntington in the early 1990s. Howard Whaley was an active member of the Parent's Council. In 1994, he became a Huntington College trustee.
Whaley says these diverse experiences have prepared him well for his stint as interim president at Huntington College. "I look at myself as a facilitator," Whaley explains. "When I was a teacher, my main responsibility was to facilitate the students' learning. When I was dean, my job was to bring people and resources together to do the work God had given them. It will be much the same here at Huntington College."
Whaley also has a reputation as a change agent. "People say I was born with a question on my lips," he said. Indeed, his fellow Huntington College trustees have described him as a leader who will ask the hard questions. Whaley says he enjoys helping people work through systems and reform processes.
When he first joined the Moody Bible Institute faculty, Whaley's first task was to take an unpopular subject, church history, and use innovative teaching methods to turn it into a popular course of study. As department head for world missions, he helped create an entirely new curriculum. That program today is the largest on MBI's campus. As dean, he helped MBI rethink its curriculum and degree offerings, and led the effort for regional accreditation by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. That effort was successful on several fronts; not only did MBI achieve accreditation, but today the North Central Association uses some of MBI's models in its own leadership workshops.
When asked about his goals for Huntington College, Whaley makes it clear he did not assume the role of interim president with a particular agenda for change. "One of the challenges is to fulfill the office of president with the full authority granted by the Board of Trustees, while avoiding being just a station keeper," said Whaley. "A delicate balance must be struck. Progress needs to be made over these next three months toward the achievement of Huntington College's strategic plans, but it would be inappropriate to initiate any effort inconsistent with Huntington College's existing ethos and mission."
"As Moody Bible Institute's chief academic officer, I was committed to owning the outcomes of changes I initiated. Here, I must continue the process that Blair Dowden owns," said Whaley. "A college administrator is never really free from thinking, planning, and living for the future."
Whaley has nothing but praise for Dowden's leadership and the changes he has brought about since assuming the presidency in 1991. "I want to celebrate his victories and enhance the context to which he will return."
One of the immediate tasks at hand is the successful continuation of The Campaign for Huntington College. The capital campaign has a five-year goal of $37 million. The most prominent project of the campaign is a new, state-of-the-art science building, now under construction. At 91,000 square feet, the new facility will be the largest building on campus. Ground was broken in April, and the new building is scheduled to open for classes in August 2002. Currently, Huntington College has raised approximately $15.5 million toward the estimated $18.5 million in construction costs and operating endowment. "I would sure like to help raise that additional three million before Blair returns from sabbatical," said Whaley.
Whaley says he has enjoyed the transition from Bible college to Christian liberal arts school. "While Bible colleges train exclusively for full-time vocational ministry, the mission of a college like Huntington is to train Christians for life in all of society - to enable graduates to make a difference with their distinctly Christian world-and-life view. I enjoy exploring cultural issues with both students and faculty."
Whaley became a Christian as a twenty-one-year-old Naval airman. He later earned a diploma from Moody Bible Institute, then went on to receive a bachelor's degree in history from Wheaton College and a master's degree in church history from Wheaton Graduate School. He pursued post-graduate studies at Northern Illinois University's Graduate School of History and the Center for Asian Studies at the University of the Philippines.
Howard Whaley and his wife, Lorraine, have four adult children. Howard and Lorraine Whaley make their permanent home in Ogden Dunes, Indiana, but will reside on campus during his service as interim president.
The Whaleys will be formally introduced to the local community at the September 13 breakfast meeting of the Huntington College Foundation. Breakfast will be served at 7:45 a.m. The program will conclude by 9 a.m. The cost of the breakfast is $6 per person. First-time guests are not charged. The public is cordially invited to attend.
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