Erskine’s future in new hands
Wednesday, July 23, 2014 12:00 AM
Presbyterians don’t believe in luck. Still, we do sincerely wish Paul Kooistra the best of luck as the 16th president of Erskine College and Theological Seminary.
Kooistra was named president Friday, and also corresponding with the Presbyterian way one would have to think he was predestined for the post -- he was initially being considered to fill the void on an interim basis. But the committee conducting the search determined Kooistra could and would mean more for Erskine on a long-term basis. The board agreed, unanimously, and offered him the full-time position, which he accepted.
Stability is something Kooistra will bring to the campus, we hope. Several years ago, the otherwise serene school in Due West was rocked by a battle for control, a battle that pitted school trustees against other trustees, the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Synod against professors and trustees, students against the Synod and more. For a time, the school was surrounded by a cloud of secrecy amidst dissent, terminations, resignations and much consternation.
A new president did help calm the situation somewhat, but his youthfulness and lack of college presidential experience, coupled with a strong belief among many that he was but a mouthpiece yet carrying out orders from on high in what some equated to a religious, political and philosophical war, kept the waters sufficiently stirred. And already there have been grumblings in the Erskine community Kooistra is but another pawn in the game of thrones about who leads Erskine, and in what direction.
Perhaps those grumblings are wrong. Perhaps Kooistra’s appointment will indeed be a turning point for the college and seminary. We, like many others, certainly hope so. Erskine has had a longstanding tradition of being a fine college situated in a quaint corner of South Carolina. Its seminary has produced some of the finest to grace the pulpits of churches here and elsewhere.
And so, in good faith, we extend a warm welcome to Kooistra and his wife, Sandi, as they depart Suwanee, Georgia, and head to Due West. And we hope what has become known as the Erskine family -- staff, faculty, students and former students -- will not only give Kooistra a warm welcome as well, but also a chance to show what he can and will do for them, their school, their alma mater.