On November 17h Eastern Nazarene College officially announced the selection of Dr. Jack Connell as its 14th president.
Dr. Jack Connell grew up in a pastor’s family and has been working in higher education for the past twelve years. He moved around a lot when he was young, which is typical for a pastor’s family, living in New York, Iowa, Minnesota, and Kentucky. Dr. Connell currently resides in New York at Houghton college with his wife Wendy and their four children. Both Dr. Connell and Wendy are graduates of Houghton College where Dr. Connell is currently the Dean. However, they will soon move to Quincy so he can start his position as President in the Spring of 2019.
Dr. Connell and Wendy both have a love for the outdoors, reading, traveling, and spending time with their children. Dr. Connell stated that he is a “bit of a sports nut” and that he enjoys running, golf, and watching almost anything on ESPN. He also stated that “someday I would love to qualify for the Boston marathon.”
Dr. Connell’s love for higher education came from his passion for college-life, graduate school, and being part of an academic community. He stated that “being a pastor for 20 years, I love being a part of equipping people to become everything God has made them to be.” In receiving the invitation to work in higher education twelve years ago, he saw an excellent opportunity to merge the two areas he loves to serve within his community. In the position that he has now as Dean, college life makes him feel as if he is still a pastor. He gets to serve hundreds of college students in a way that helps these students receive an education that will be truly transformative to them and their life.
Dr. Connell has previously worked at other institutions, including Asbury Theological Seminary, Roberts Wesleyan College and Houghton College. At these universities, he served as Vice President for Advancement, Executive Vice President, and is currently Dean and Provost of Houghton College. Also, while working in higher education, he has earned two doctoral degrees, one in Ministry from Asbury Theological Seminary and another in Higher Education Administration from The University of Rochester in New York.
Dr. Connell does not anticipate having any struggles, and he hopes to fit right in, stated that “everyone has been so kind and welcoming.” He went on to say that maybe his only struggle would be being able to remember everyone’s names and faces.
One of Dr. Connell’s goals in his new position of leadership at ENC is to dive in and get to know the community. Furthermore, he wants to get to know the challenges that ENC faces and all the opportunities that ENC has to offer. He plans on spending time with the students and soaking in everything around him. From the foundations and the relationships that he builds along the way, he intends to work with campus leadership in developing ways to make the students’ experiences at ENC even better. Also, he plans to create new academic programs to attract more students to the campus. Dr. Connell intends to support staff and faculty and raise more money for student scholarships.
Dr. Connell believes that Eastern Nazarene College could become one of the premier Christian colleges in the country. Dr. Connell explains, “I want to do everything I can do to make sure the future is bright and promising—all for the sake of the great students of ENC.”
Dr. Connell hopes to get to know the students on a personal level by being visible and engaging with campus life. He will attend chapels and campus events, eat in the cafeteria, and (hopefully) the Academic Dean will let him teach a class or two in the future. He made it very clear that he loves students, and he even added a side note that he might show up late at night in the library with some pizzas once in a while.
Ashley Prax, a Junior at ENC, attended the event to meet the new president. She states that “I am super excited for our new president. I think finally having a president gives everyone peace and a new sense of hope for the future of ENC. It is exciting to have someone here who can provide stability for the campus.” When asked how her experience was, she said “I enjoyed getting to meet Dr. Connell. When we were talking, he asked the group that I was in why we loved ENC and if there was anything he should know. It meant a lot to me that he took the time to talk with the students that came.”