Katrina Timeline for the Belhaven Campus

For those of us who were here five years ago today in “the storm,” we’ll never forget Katrina.  It brings back to me memories of great joy in trusting God for EVERYTHING, and tremendous stress having to deal with all that was stable spinning out of control all at once time.


If you’d like to take a walk through “Katrina week” at Belhaven, below are my emails to the campus during the storm.

We didn’t have power after it hit, but I was able to dictate these messages through my cell phone to our web director who was living in New York, who posted on our web which was housed in Atlanta.

But all that week, we had no idea if students and families were reading the messages because direct communication was impossible in Jackson.

Without water, AC, power, internet, ice, gas, or very much food……we made it through.

We didn’t know if students would come back — they all did!

Sunday, August 28, 2005, 7:00 pm (CDT) All classes and activities for Belhaven College have been cancelled for Monday.  College officials will make the decision as soon as possible on Monday whether or not we can hold classes on Tuesday.  All administrative offices will also be closed.  Our physical plant team on campus has been and continues to prepare for the effects of the storm.  Be praying for them especially.  Resident students are receiving training today and tomorrow for what to do during the storm.  Our resident life staff will be in full force. We are reminding students that even as the storm passes many injuries from a storm like this come from people who go out after the storm too soon, rather than during the storm.  We have established a central number to call for further information: 601-968-5928.  There will also be updates on our web page (www.belhaven.edu) as additional information becomes available.  We encourage prayers for all of the inhabitants of the Gulf Coast as well as for our on campus team and our students.

Monday, August 29, 2005, 6:30 am (CDT) We will do our best to keep the web report updated as we get news from the campus.  Our web server is housed in Atlanta, so even if the College loses power, we still should be able to give you reports on this web page.

Monday, August, 29, 12:00 noon (CDT) I just returned from the campus and all is prepared for the storm as much as possible.  I visited each of the residence halls and students were in, dry, in good spirits, and safe.  Students will be going to the student center for lunch, but after that, we will be keeping them in the residence halls through the remainder of the storm.  Students will take sack lunches and water back to their halls at lunch and have that for dinner and snacks.  Our maintenance team has done a wonder job preparing the campus.

I understand from students that many of them went home, and took with them other students.  I trust you have been in contact with your student, and know exactly where they are staying during the storm.

The winds and rain picked up significantly this morning.  Right now they are predicting the storm to increase here in the next hour….from 30 mph winds to 75 mph winds by 6pm.  After that, the worst of the storm should pass by and the winds go back down to 30 mph through the night.  I’m glad it is coming during the day so we can better see what is going on.

We have cancelled classes for Tuesday.

We are expecting to lose power as the storm hits harder, and of course, since this storm is hitting nearly all of Mississippi, we anticipate that getting service reconnected will be a slow process.  Tornados are of course a primary concern for us.

We will keep you up to date as we have further information.

Monday, August 29, 4:00 p.m. (CDT) Power is still on in the Jackson area.  However, the Belhaven e-mail server has gone down, so students have lost access to their Belhaven e-mail accounts for the time being.  Large trees are down on campus, but no significant damage.  We have received assurance from Entergy in the event of a loss of power that Belhaven is a high priority to resume power after the storm.  Please continue to pray as the most intense part of the storm is about to come.

Monday, August 29, 6:45 p.m. (CDT) The worst of the storm seems to have passed.  Thankfully it weakened some before hitting Jackson.  Sustained winds were 50 mph with gusts reaching 65 mph.  Power was up on campus all day until 6:15 p.m.  At the same time, a tree fell and broke the main gas line, which can’t be fixed until tomorrow.  The city of Jackson’s water pumping plant has experienced problems and there is no water at this time either.  Cell phone service is spotty around the city and residential/long distance phone service is down.  While there are several utilities that are down at this time, there has been no damage to Belhaven buildings.  Overall we feel very fortunate; most importantly our students are safe and dry!

Monday, August 29, 8:45 p.m. (CDT) Winds have now died down to 15/20 mph, which seems quite calm.  Utilities will remain out throughout the night, except for water which seems to be restored.  The Belhaven e-mail system remains down and will until power is restored.  Other than downed trees, there doesn’t appear to be any damage to the campus.  All students are safe and encouraged to remain in the residence halls throughout the night and into the morning.  Unfortunately one fatality was reported in Jackson a few blocks from campus; a tree fell onto an elderly woman’s house and she was killed.  Our maintenance crew is reporting to campus at 6:00 a.m. to begin clean up efforts.

Tuesday, August 30, 10:00 a.m. (CDT) The campus came through the storm well.  Four major trees are down on the campus, but thankfully no structural damage.  Many roads to the campus are blocked due to downed trees, except for access from the North.  Power, gas, and water remain off and we are not sure at this time when they will be restored.  Classes will not resume until power is restored.  We hope the power might come back today, but there are no indicators yet.  They tell us that 95% of Entergy’s customers are without service at this time.  The students are in good spirits, but tired after a night without utilities.  We have encouraged the students to remain on campus still and many have been helping clean up limbs across the college property.   The food service personnel are continuing to feed the students despite not being able to use their kitchen appliances.  Our Gulf Coast students are particularly concerned about families members and anxious to hear from them soon.  We are hearing good reports from our faculty and staff members that they have little or no damage to their properties.  We are very grateful for the Lord’s protection.  Thank you for your prayers.

Tuesday, August 30, 2:00 p.m. (CDT) All classes will be cancelled for the remainder of this week and through Labor Day weekend.  Classes will resume Tuesday morning, September 6.  Administrative offices will open when power is restored.  Still no definite word when this will be.

Wednesday, August 31, 2:00 p.m. (CDT) The power remains off on campus, although sections of Jackson are regaining power.  We are hopeful the campus might have restored power within the next couple days.  The football game scheduled for this Saturday has been postponed; the new date for this game will be November 19.  Those players living close by have been encouraged to return home.  The number of students on campus has dropped to 200.  If rental busses can be secured, the soccer and volleyball teams will still play their out-of-town games this weekend.

For students attending colleges on the Gulf Coast, if your institution has had to cancel classes for the remainder of the semester and you would like to attend Belhaven, we will hold an open enrollment on Tuesday morning, September 6.  Our admission and financial aid offices will be open to help process your application and aid.  If you are qualified and enroll, you will only have missed the first few days of the semester.

Note to Belhaven employees:  Your direct deposit paychecks will be processed today and those who want to pick up their paychecks can do so at the Center for the Arts.

Thursday, September 1, 7:15 p.m. (CDT) Word has come from Entergy that power should be restored tomorrow morning.  We will be getting the campus back into operation and preparing for classes to resume next Tuesday, September 6.  Most students have gone home with only about 30 remaining.  We have received additional food and water to provide for these students.  Please pray for a safe return of our students next week.  We are thankful for how God has blessed up through this tragedy.

There will be a special service of prayer and thanksgiving on Tuesday, September 6, at our normal chapel time, 11:00 a.m. in the Center for the Arts.  All classes will be cancelled for the remainder of this week and through Labor Day weekend.  Classes will resume Tuesday morning, September 6.  Administrative offices will open when power is restored.  Still no definite word when this will be.

Friday, September 2, 2005  7:45 p.m.  (CDT) THE POWER IS ON!!!! The campus is fully operational and we are ready to start classes on Tuesday morning, September 6.  We encourage students to come back to Jackson on Monday if possible.  If you are held up due to fuel or logistical reasons we understand, just come back as soon as you can.  We will help catch students up.  Just a note, fuel trucks arrived in Jackson in mass transit today.  Gas stations here are back in business. We are encouraged that we only missed five days of classes and we will put plans into place to ensure we can have adequate class time without further imposition to families.  We are thankful for the patience of our students, their families, staff, and faculty during this trying time.

Saturday, September 3, 2005 10:15 a.m.  (CDT)

Students: In order to facilitate your travel, classes will not begin until 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 6. Residence Halls are open now; we hope you can return by Tuesday.  We are praying for your safe return as soon as possible.

Faculty: Classes will not begin until 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 6.   There is a mandatory meeting for faculty and staff at 11:00 a.m. in Barber Auditorium on Tuesday.

Staff: Administrative offices will be open at 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday, September 6.  There is a mandatory meeting for faculty and staff at 11:00 a.m. in Barber Auditorium on Tuesday.

Please Note:

The Chapel of Prayer and Thanksgiving will be held on Thursday, September 8, rather than the earlier announced date of Tuesday.

The fall break, as well as Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks, will be held as originally scheduled.

Saturday, September 3, 2005  4:00 p.m.  (CST) On Sunday morning, September 4, at 10:00 a.m., Belhaven College will host a special worship service for the college, community, and friends at the Center for the Arts.  The worship will be led by Mr. Doug Eltzroth and Rev. Rev. Dolphus Weary, President of Mission Mississippi will preach.  All welcome.

The Mission Exchange Reviews “The Longview”

The Mission Exchange is the largest evangelical association of missions organizations. And so I was especially pleased they featured my book, The Longview: Lasting Strategies for Rising Leaders

In their monthly “Leaders Edge Book Summary,” they did a nice job pulling out some of the major ideas.  You can read the review HERE

They also did a 35 minute interview about the book, and that can be heard HERE

Or if you’d like to see my 3 minute video summary of the book it is HERE

NBC Today Show – Vote Before 1 pm For BU Alums

Our alumni go on from here to bring all kinds of recognition to this University.

But it’s not often two of our alumni are featured on national television for getting married.

Belhaven alumni Dave McKay (’08) and Genevieve Tallarico (’07) are one of
four couples featured on the Today Show, one of whom will
be chosen to win a wedding planned by viewers through Facebook.

Dave,  from Dublin, Ireland, was a captain of the men’s soccer team, and
Genevieve, from Pennsylvania, was a dance major while at Belhaven. She now works with the International Ballet Competition based in Jackson.

I know Dave and Genevieve would appreciate your voting for them, which you can do HERE on Facebook.  They are the 4th couple. (You must vote by 1pm today.)

Here is the clip from Dave and Genevieve shown on the Today Show – shot on our soccer field.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

What’s Wrong with Higher Education? – Some Answers

Two new books have jarred the world of higher education this month.

Both are right on target and I applaud the authors for pulling back the curtain to reveal the dramatic deterioration of higher education.

The books attack both the quality and cost – and rightfully so.

Belhaven  University has been consistently ranked as one of “America’s Best Buy Colleges and Universities.”  We are committed to good stewardship of our resources in order to keep Belhaven as affordable as possible.

More importantly, we are committed to stewardship as a biblical principle, and thus are accountable to God for using our resources wisely and offering a rigorous education for our students.

But . . . for much of higher education the costs and priorities have gone off the charts.  These two books will help students and families to understand why.

And these books will make you more thankful than ever for the dramatic difference we offer at Belhaven University.

Here are short summaries of the books from the authors:

The Five-Year Party

Parents Beware.  Party schools can ruin your children’s lives!

The cost of college tuition is rising faster than health care or gasoline, and students are struggling to pay the bill.  They take out tens of thousands of dollars in student loans, and assume they can pay them off from their high salary jobs after graduation. It’s a bad assumption.  Half of college students move back in with their parents because they can’t find good jobs.  Students are working as waiters and clerks while struggling for decades to pay for an education they didn’t use.

Where does all that tuition money go?  Only one dollar out of five is spent on instruction.  The rest goes for bloated administrative salaries and multi-million dollar buildings like student centers, workout centers, and gourmet food courts that have little to do with education. These unnecessary frills push the costs up year after year, while national surveys show that students are learning less and less, and many of them are functionally illiterate.

Party schools operate more like adolescent resorts than higher education institutions.  Students are pampered with five-star residences and gourmet food courts, but education is strictly optional.  Students get away with doing as little work as possible while still earning A’s and B’s.  Half of the freshmen class drops out before graduation.

“The Five-Year Party” unravels the mystery of why so many of our colleges have become so dysfunctional.  The book helps parents determine which colleges are party schools, and includes recommendations for the reforms necessary to restore rigor to these colleges’ programs and put education ahead of entertainment on their agendas.

Craig Brandon is the author of six books about popular history and public affairs, and a former award-winning education reporter.

Higher Education? How Colleges are Wasting Our Money and and Failing Our Kids — and What We Can Do About It.

In the coming weeks, millions of American parents will be writing checks for their offspring’s tuition at our 4,400 colleges and universities. Yet even in a recession-stricken economy, almost every school has raised its fees for the year.Tuition at Northwestern, before meals or a mattress, will be $39,840. Penn State charges $15,267 for in-staters — less, like most public schools. But added costs bring the tabs closer. Living away in University Park is about the same as Evanston. Sad to say, each year sees more students having to finance their degrees through borrowing; six-figure debts are not unusual.

The chief reason why costs keep rising is that education has become a minor player in higher education. At public universities, only 28% of spending goes for instruction; private colleges do a bit better at 33%. Here is some of what will come out of your tuition checks:

Costly varsity teams. While some high-powered sports make a profit, the great majority of athletic programs are money losers. Maine’s Bates College, with only 1,776 students, supports 31 intercollegiate teams, all requiring salaried coaches, travel budgets and custom-made apparel. Golf at the University of Southern California costs $33,961 per player per year. Stanford’s women’s softball team plays 57 games, half of them away, flying to colleges in Arizona, Hawaii and Washington. Even if creative accounting masks athletic deficits, they end up included in students’ tuition bills.

Paying for not teaching. Perhaps all occupations should have sabbaticals. For professors, it mainly means being paid for not teaching. At Williams College, in a typical year, one-third of the faculty are away on leave. In Harvard’s history department, 20 of its 48 professors will be absent in the coming academic year. Students continue to pay the full rate, even when they are taught by visitors and courses they want are cancelled.

Financing research. Princeton President Shirley Tilghman told a congressional hearing that a big reason for rising costs is higher education’s commitment to research. Her university spends $34,213 annually on such studies in the name of each student, but takes in only $17,318 in government grants. The rest is part of your tuition bill.

Staying with the pack. Here were last year’s tuitions at five reputable schools: Georgetown (Washington, D.C.), $39,036; Gettysburg (Pa.), $39,200; Haverford (Pa.), $39,085; Mount Holyoke (South Hadley, Mass.), $39,126; Pitzer (Los Angeles), $39,332. Notice anything odd? Although they vary in location and endowments, there’s an unspoken pact not to break ranks. A school such as Wesleyan (Middletown, Conn.) is so well endowed it could halve its price ($38,934). But because enough parents are willing to pay the full tab, it stays close to the pack.

Seven-figure CEOs. In inflation-adjusted dollars, the average pay of college presidents has doubled in the past 15 years. At New York University, it tripled, rising to $1.4 million. Each year sees more above the seven-figure mark. We’re told there’s a shortage of talent, so colleges have to bid. Perhaps; but at Rensselaer, it takes the tuitions of 43 students to pay its president $1.6 million.

Colleges or country clubs? Washington State University provides a jumbo Jacuzzi with room for 50 students, while the University of Houston offers a five-story climbing wall. Bowdoin has a chef who prepares butternut soup, Dijon chicken and vegetable polenta for its incipient epicures. According to the College Board, room-plus-board-plus-extras averaged $12,582 last year. But it doesn’t include travel or a night or two out. Harvard advises that after-tuition costs can reach $21,774, spurred by the theory that amenities attract better applicants. True or not, it heightens the cost of higher education.

The price of prestige. Colleges have a monopoly. Only they can bestow a bachelor’s degree. Having a diploma establishes you as acceptably middle class and opens access to favored jobs. So University of Southern California’s $40,384 annual tuition tab is viewed as a long-term investment, as is the $38,529 out-of-staters are willing to send the University of Michigan. (In-staters, who are finding it harder to get in, remit $13,343.)

In fact, prestige degrees pay off less than is thought. One major study shows that matched students who went to non-elite colleges did just as well financially as their elite peers. For our book, we tracked 900-plus Princeton graduates into their middle years to find what they made of their lives. As a group, they ended up very average. Even so, there are parents who want their children to succeed; so they curtail their own living standards and write the checks.

Andrew Hacker is a political science professor at Queens College in New York. Claudia Dreifus is a professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

My 16th Kick-Off Message – One of the Three Most Important

With nearly 400 full time faculty and staff, now spread out over 6 physical campuses, plus our online campus, there is only one time each year when we all get together.

I only have  one time each year to share with all our focus for the year, and emphasize the core of our God-honoring mission that drives us together.

I just posted online my 16th message from these “Kick-Off” events, which we now call our Service of Dedication.  (And during the service received a clock to commemorate completing 15 years as president.)

Each of these messages are based on a verse of the year – a text that is especially applicable as I see where the Lord is leading the school in the year ahead.

From my perspective, during these 16 years, there have been three of these messages that have been most important (although last years would be a close 4th in my ranking):

1996 – My first message to the campus set the tone for our future together.

2003 – I introduced a new planning model to the campus based on the metaphor of becoming sailboats to catch the wind of God, rather than powerboats who go where we assume God wants us to go, but operate ignoring the wind.

2010 – I’ve outlined our mission in a fresh way, as the Lord has developed us as a University of 3,500 students.

If you’d like to listen, read, or download the message, you can find it HERE.

But here is the core ideas in summary:

What distinguishes Belhaven University from all the other 4,168 schools in America is our commitment to: “purposeful stewardship.”

It comes down to this idea – we have a drive and culture ingrained in Belhaven that seeks to get the best out of everything that God has given to us. We are purposefully good stewards of whatever the Lord entrusts to us.

1.  We have a calling to the stewardship of teaching an unchanging biblical worldview.

We are unwavering in the major issues of our Christian faith, and couple that solid biblical commitment with grace to be accepting of a variety of perspectives the minor issues of faith. We together all of God’s people across the evangelical spectrum of the Church.

  • The uniqueness of Christ as the only way to the Father
  • The justification by faith alone
  • The authority and inerrancy of scripture
  • The transforming power of the Holy Spirit
  • The reality of eternal life to come.

Like the pillars that symbolize Belhaven near our fountain, these timeless pillars of what it means to be a follower of Jesus are unmovable at the center of our campus.

2.  We have a calling to the stewardship of valuing every student.

We take every student – just where they are – and we invest in them to help get the most out of them.  We don’t just try to push students through a pre-designed program that makes it easy for us. Instead, we try to work with each one as a unique person whom God designed with special gifts, drive, and purpose.

We are convinced that every student at Belhaven University came here because God hand-picked them to come here.  And because they are a gift to us from God, we must be purposeful stewards of every single one of them.

3.  We have a calling to the stewardship of honoring God-given opportunities.

Our planning is built around waiting for God’s wind to blow, rather than traditional destination planning that attempts to predict where God wants us to go in the future.  Yes, we plan, but we do it locally, as close to every academic department, office, team, and function as possible – in order to be purposeful stewards of what God has already given us.

We do stewardship planning, instead of predicting a future in destination planning that wastefully consumes most schools, attempting to predict future outcomes that are often far beyond their control.

Annual “Mind-Set” List

The start of the academic year is always marked by the  annual  release of Beloit College’s  “mindset list,” which aims to help professors understand what their new freshmen experienced (and didn’t) growing up.

While some items on the list are, of course, related to technology, many reflect the cultural and political world views of today’s 18-year-olds.

Some of the items on this year’s list include:

1. Few in the class know how to write in cursive.

2. E-mail is just too slow, and they seldom if ever use snail mail.

3. “Go West, Young College Grad” has always implied “and don’t stop until you get to Asia… and learn Chinese along the way.”

4. Al Gore has always been animated.

5. Los Angelinos have always been trying to get along.

6. “Caramel macchiato” and “venti half-caf vanilla latte” have always been street corner lingo.

7. A quarter of America’s freshman class has at least one immigrant parent, and the immigration debate is not a big priority … unless it involves “real” aliens from another planet.

8. John McEnroe has never played professional tennis.

9. Clint Eastwood is better known as a sensitive director than as Dirty Harry.

10. Parents and teachers feared that Beavis and Butt-head might be the voice of a lost generation.
11. Colorful lapel ribbons have always been worn to indicate support for a cause.

12. Korean cars have always been a staple on American highways.

13. Fergie is a pop singer, not a princess.

14. They never twisted the coiled handset wire aimlessly around their wrists while chatting on the phone.

15. DNA fingerprinting and maps of the human genome have always existed.

16. Leasing has always allowed the folks to upgrade their tastes in cars.

17. Unless they found one in their grandparents’ closet, they have never seen a carousel of Kodachrome slides.

18. Computers have never lacked a CD-ROM disk drive.

19. Reggie Jackson has always been enshrined in Cooperstown.

20. “Viewer Discretion” has always been an available warning on TV shows.

21. The first computer they probably touched was an Apple II; it is now in a museum.

22. Czechoslovakia has never existed.

23. Secondhand smoke has always been an official carcinogen.

24. “Assisted Living” has always been replacing nursing homes, while hospice has always been an alternative to hospitals.

25. There have always been HIV positive athletes in the Olympics.

26. American companies have always done business in Vietnam.

27. Russians and Americans have always been living together in space.

28. The dominance of television news by the three networks passed while they were still in their cribs.

29. Toothpaste tubes have always stood up on their caps.

30. Rock bands have always played at presidential inaugural parties.

31. Beethoven has always been a dog.

32. Presidential appointees have always been required to be more precise about paying their nannies’ withholding tax, or else.

33. Having hundreds of cable channels but nothing to watch has always been routine.

34. They first met Michelangelo when he was just a computer virus.

35. Ruth Bader Ginsburg has always sat on the Supreme Court.

36. They have never worried about a Russian missile strike on the U.S.

37. The Post Office has always been going broke.

38. The nation has never approved of the job Congress is doing.

39. Honda has always been a major competitor on Memorial Day at Indianapolis.

Welcoming New Students and Families

Saturday afternoon I welcomed our new first-year students and families at the start of orientation.

The video made by our student peer leaders to introduce themselves was the hit of the afternoon.

I shared these ideas with our newest Belhaven students – the first Freshman class we’ve welcomed under our University name.


Plan a purpose not a path for your life.

Follow a calling instead of just a career.

1.  God called you here, and God never calls us to failure.

2.  You are capable of being successful or we wouldn’t have let you into Belhaven.

3.  Persistence in college level academics and living will require a new level of discipline

4.  Reach out for help when you need support

5.  LEARN to Persevere

Romans 5:3-4 ‘We can rejoice when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us – they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us, and character strengthens our confident expectation of salvation.’

  • Rejoice in the problems and trials  –  because
  • Problems and trials are good for us  –  because
  • We must learn endurance  –  because
  • Endurance develops strength of character   –  because
  • Character strengthens confidence

Each challenge in life is God’s way of preparing our character to give us confidence to handle something greater yet to come.

Only in Christ can we have a consistent character to live in confidence.