Message from the President
Walking into a Theo School faculty meeting often feels like being in a winning team’s locker room at halftime. Serious issues get discussed, which supplies a little game-time tension, but the laughter is spontaneous and loud and there’s a sense that we are all in it, whatever it is, together. It is as productive and just plain enjoyable an academic environment as one can imagine.
It is also evidence of the character of our great dean, Maxine Beach, who is retiring this spring. Maxine’s intelligence is exceeded only by her wisdom, and her spirituality is matched only by her moment-to-moment spirit. No easy rider, Maxine lobbies hard for the interests of the Theo School—whenever I hear the drumming of her knuckles on the table at our cabinet meetings, I know the Beach temperature is rising—but she also exudes a collegiality that is utterly infectious.
There’s more that makes Maxine’s achievement still greater. This is as diverse a student and faculty community as one can imagine—international and multi everything. It is also a community that, unlike many seminaries associated with universities, has a large and still-growing role in the overall community. Maxine has embraced the notion of Drew as a uni-versity and encouraged her gang to open its doors to undergraduates and Caspersen students and to teach with faculty from the rest of Drew. On a material level, her tenure has been marked by her ability to raise funds and expand Seminary Hall. But for me, Maxine is the architect of something still more worthy—all that takes place inside that building.
In fact, I urge Drewids to stop by Seminary Hall for a service. As you enter to the sounds of an African liberation hymn and live through an hour of meditation, personal speech and joyous music, your sense of the human potential for good will revive. Maxine is in all of this, as she is in the bookshelves that hold the prodigious publications of the professors, as she is in the continuing improvements of the academic programs and, most, as she is in the hearts of the students.
We are all a little fearful about what Drew will be without Maxine. But it is overpowered by something still greater: the legacy of human and divine love, a continuing breeze of energy and achievement and goodwill by which Dean Beach will remain vibrantly at Drew wherever she may be.