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Remarks on the inauguration of Mary Karsten Surridge

(Augustana President Steve Bahls' remarks at the inauguration of Mary Karsten Surridge as president of North Park University Feb. 15, 2019.)

President Surridge and friends of North Park University, 

It is my distinct honor to bring you greetings and best wishes from more than 680 members of the Council of Independent Colleges, the 60 members of the Federation of Independent Illinois Colleges & Universities, the 27 members of the Associated Colleges of Illinois, and – last but not least – the eight other members of your athletic conference, the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin.  

May our competitions on the playing field be robust, but, more importantly, may the friendship between our colleges be deep and strong.

Permit me to offer one piece of advice on behalf of your fellow presidents. On the day of your inauguration, God has given you a vessel full of courage, energy, wisdom, and perspective for you to invest on behalf of North Park University. It will be your intent to judiciously use the contents of that vessel for the benefit of your students, your faculty and your community.   

You’ll guard the contents of the vessel carefully, but you’ll have less control over the vessel than you might think. Some will poke at you and jostle you causing some of the contents to spill needlessly. At times, if you are like me, you will stumble when you should have been more careful, causing more of the contents to spill. Some days you will look into that vessel and wonder when it will be gone.  

My advice to you is to work to refill that vessel each day. By confidently following your calling as God’s servant you will find your vessel filled with everlasting courage. Refill your vessel with the energy you gain from being with students. Replenish it as you gain wisdom from faculty, board members and professional colleagues. And spend time outside of the university with friends and family in order to gain and regain the perspective needed to be a strong leader.

May you cherish the vessel of courage, energy, wisdom and perspective God gives you. And may you be able to say, when you retire from your awesome responsibilities here, that though your vessel be nearly empty, you have nonetheless used it well.

Thank you, President Surridge.