The following are excerpts from President Favara’s inaugural address. You may watch the full address and view pictures at ccckfoundation.org/inauguration.
As the newly installed president of this college, my job here today is to provide you with a visionary glimpse into the future of this college, to set the agenda, to pronounce prosperity, and boldly go where no one has gone before. However, before I do that, you need to be aware this is Homecoming Week- end on the campus of Central Christian College of Kansas. Interestingly enough, this year’s theme is “There’s No Place Like Home”. Now, you need to understand that I have a bit of an infatuation with the Wizard of Oz. Not like a weird one or anything. My interest is purely academic in nature as it pertains to the sociocultural aspects of the production. You could imagine my delight as it instantly gave me a platform to use the imagery of this story as a backdrop to my own understanding of the impact and future of this great institution.
There once was a time, much like Dorothy, that I stood dreaming of a great someday. And then BANG – I found myself in central Kansas at a little school called Central College. Now, unlike Dorothy, I was not from Kansas. As a young child I grew up on Long Island, New York. Later, as my family divided, I spent part of my year in Florida and the other part of the year trekking through the mountains of Colorado. So, you can imagine that my journey to the Great Plains was a tornadic experience for me. Furthermore, the structure and mission of this college was not in my plans. Like Dorothy landing in Munchkin land, my entry into this place left me a little dazed and confused.
And that was where the journey began. Because it was in those moments that my search for a “home” began. It was the lessons that I learned on that journey, a journey that happened right here on this campus, that forever altered the direction and focus of my life.
So, let’s take a little journey.
The first key character that Dorothy encountered was the Scarecrow (who had no brain).
As you would expect, my journey here at CCCK has been a journey of learning. As I see it, this is an essential element of our missional existence. The pursuit of knowledge and the advancement of academic achievement will continue to play a key role in all we do. However, there are many educational institutions, who at face value, might echo this dedication to pursue knowledge and truth. Yet, it is our assertion that any pursuit of truth that attempts to circumnavigate the reality and existence of our Creator is really chasing after the wind. We recognize that to pursue truth is to pursue God. As we pursue knowledge and grow in our understanding of truth, we will invariably find ourselves on a crash course with God. Therefore, I believe we have a moral responsibility to ensure that our students are not just equipped to critically engage the science, but also to actively engage the One who brought it into being.
What was his problem? No heart.
I cannot think of a more appropriate illustration to demonstrate the reality of what living without a heart looks like, other than to point to the current state of our good union. If there was ever a time that this nation, this world, needs men and women of integrity, honor, and civility – that time is now. Nearly gone are the days that an individual was judged primarily by his or her character, rather than the level of success of his or her conquests. I think we all long for the day when virtue, courtesy, and respect were lauded over possessions, personality, and power.
Central’s mission speaks directly to this need and is truly the distinctive of this College. Yes, we are unapologetically and unswervingly Christ-Centered. That is a fundamental reality – our position for 135 years, and our perspective for the next 135. However, we are not the only institution to carry the banner of Christ. Therefore, it is not necessarily our distinction. Our distinguishing mark, the element that sets us apart, is our focus to touch both heart and mind. Luke 2:52 asks us to exhort our students, to help them grow in wisdom, while also increasing in stature and in favor with God and humanity.
Therefore, I say that it is time to bring the heart back into the hallowed halls of higher education.
Our next character is the Lion. He lacked courage.
Our world has a very real need for people who have the grit to see things through, who do not melt under the burden of great expectations. God needs people who are able to persevere in the face of hardship, to fight for the oppressed, to enter the breach and boldly proclaim truth. Again, that is why I believe CCCK is unique in its ability to touch the heart. We have here a unique environment that allows students to test and tackle new skills, abilities, and achievements. Our future will continue to be tied to providing an environment of exploration and discovery, characterized by people equipping and encouraging each individual to valiantly forge for- ward, to reach for higher ground, to fulfill the God-given potential knitted into every life.
There is still one last character we need to address here – that is the character Dorothy, herself. Remember, the whole reason we were introduced to the scarecrow, the tinman and the lion was because of the deficit in her own life – the need for meaning: a home.
I think it is important that you understand the strategic model that in- forms the work of CCCK. Our mission is fleshed out by defining character through something we call the Core Four. The Core Four recognizes that true character is achieved through an appreciation for and development of heart, mind, soul, and strength. Dorothy’s journey through Oz was defined by a quest to find home. How- ever, in order to complete that quest she first had to deal with an internal journey of the soul, which challenged her to wrestle with her priorities and discover her true identity. Her journey forced her to grow in knowledge (the mind of the Scarecrow), character (the heart of the Tinman), and tenacity (the courage of the Lion). In doing so, she herself was transformed.
This brings me to the core element of our conversation here today. It all comes down to those ruby slippers. For, in the very moment that Dorothy’s feet were encapsulated in those shoes, she fell under the protection of a power that no evil could overcome. Every at- tempt to harm her was thwarted by the presence of those ruby slippers. This is the exact same invitation given to each and every student who walks through the doors of this College – the chance to appropriate the ruby red blood of Christ to wash them, cleanse them, and purify them – to save them from the power of evil.
However, that is not where the story ends. Protection from evil and deliverance from the curse of death were only the starting point for Dorothy, as it is with us. It was the first stage of grace, which justified and protected her. As Dorothy journeyed, safe in the vindicating work of those ruby slippers; as she had opportunity to grow in mind, in heart, and in strength; the evolution of her soul allowed her to appropriate the power afforded to her through those shoes. While the shoes covered her externally, there was an internal transformation that also needed to occur – a soul that needed to fully grasp the potential provided to her.
Those shoes remind me that the core element of both our past and our future is wrapped up in the all sufficient, sustaining blood of Christ. Those shoes represent the ruby red blood of Christ that allows our feet to be shod with the ready power that comes from the gospel of peace; both justifying us and sanctifying us, protecting us and empowering us.
This is what excites me about the future of Central, because this journey- the journey of mind, heart, soul, and strength – is a journey that has been going on in the lives of Central students for over 135 years. That is why we call this place home. So for us, each time we step back on campus, we reminisce, celebrate, and rekindle the quest we once embarked upon. Perhaps even taking up the journey, yet again. And so, before God and this good company, I commit to ensuring that we shall never lose sight of the foundational truths that have shaped our journey so far.
Because there simply is no place like Central. There is no place like home.
To learn more about President Dr. Favara be sure to go to the President‘s page to get a glimpse into the man in charge.