President Dr. Jack Connell welcomed staff and students for his first academic year at Eastern Nazarene College (ENC) with a meaningful speech during the convocation chapel. His humorous but still understanding and determined manner, as well as his presence on campus, should give students and staff hope for a bright future.

It has been five months since Dr. Jack Connell was named the new president of ENC, filling the gap that Dr. Corlis A. McGee left behind in 2017. During the summer holidays, Connell did not have much time to influence the community at ENC. Nonetheless, students can already sense his aura on campus and his willingness to enhance the community of the small college in Quincy.

For the people of this small college, Connell had a strong call to action at the end of his convocation speech. He asked them to be, “[…] a community that’s marked by kindness and compassion and humility and acceptance and forgiveness.” Throughout the speech, he emphasizes these qualities which are also communicated by Apostle Paul in the Bible (Colossians Chapter 3 Verses 12-14).

To convey his message, the former Provost and Dean of Faculty at Houghton College (Houghton, New York) shared many personal experiences with the audience. For instance, he stresses that he should not have started arguing with his wife Wendy who was reading a novel and drinking tea when he got home after a 15-hour workday, just because she did not wash the dishes. He humorously confesses that his son asked him in the following morning, “Dad, how come you are sleeping on the couch?” and adds that he should rather have been happy that his stressed-out wife is taking a moment for herself. Why? Because God told us to be kind to others as God has been kind and compassionate to us.

Furthermore, the former senior pastor cites Anne Lamott saying that “Not forgiving someone is like drinking rat poison and waiting for the rat to die” to illustrate that we must forgive as the Lord has forgiven us. Not forgiving someone is like drinking rat poison because you are filled with evil looking for possibilities of revenge instead of releasing the desire to punish someone for an offense.

Connell communicates his strong messages clearly and understandable to the students. He also admits that it is not easy to always emphasize these values, but he notes that God wants ENC to be that kind of community.

The speech as well as his presence on campus captivates me as well as other students. Even if it is just for a short time, Connell always tries to show up at events from any department. The passionate runner supports and cheers for the athletics teams. He wants to get to know all the people at ENC who recognize and appreciate it. President Dr. Jack Connell excites the student body.

In his speech, he mentions that one of his kids advised him to just be “more cool” heading into his new position as college president. So far, I can definitely say that he seems to be a pretty cool president.

Because I still want that to hold true when I am graduating in the spring, I can give him this advice: Continue to cherish this community and keep the same attitude towards our students!