Message from the Dean

April 28, 2015
Engelhardt Column

Dr. Jon M. Engelhardt
Dean, School of Education

It hardly seems like a year since I announced my planned retirement, but here we are with the final date quickly approaching. I have greatly cherished the many well-wishes and statements of regret for my leaving. Feelings of guilt aside, I know it is the right time, and I feel good knowing that the School’s leadership will be in very capable hands.

This past year has been a journey of reflection for me, most especially reflection on what I have learned about leadership over the past 30+ years — its nature, the lessons of experience, and why one would pursue such a role.

Despite having held a formal leadership title, I believe leadership is not really about any official position a person holds. Instead, leadership is about being a difference maker in whatever role you find yourself. True leadership calls for wisdom, passion for helping others flourish, and a commitment to service. These qualities, I believe, touch on the true nature of great leadership.

Another insight — strong leadership requires not just tenacity, but physical stamina, making exercise critical. Each year that passes, I am increasingly reminded of this point.

Finally, the journey this year led me to ask myself why I have devoted these many years to leadership, hopefully with more successes than failures. Oddly, the answer to this question came to me in the form of a hymn, a hymn that has haunted me since my first foray into leadership as an assistant department chair — Here I am Lord. Biblically based, the gist of the lyric is that the Lord hears and weeps for the calls of people in darkness and distress, vows to help them, and asks the question “whom shall I send?” The chorus then answers that question:

Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me.
I will hold your people in my hand.

I have been blessed with a family and spouse that seemed to understand and tolerate the drive and demands of this work for me. These past few years at Baylor have been wonderful ones for me — as I have said, God left the wedding wine at Cana for me — the best for last. It is now time for the School’s next leader to carry the baton and help the faculty, staff, and the communities we work with to attain ever-higher heights. For this I trust and pray!
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