Saturday, March 03, 2012

My Time on the Board of Trinity

Sean, in a comment he made on an earlier post, asked about my being on the board of Trinity College, Deerfield.  This service was a privilege and a blessing.

During the late 1970s and 1980s, I served on the board of a small Bible college known as Miami Christian College ("MCC").  It turned out some fine graduates and was a bright light in the fairly dark spiritual world of Miami-Dade.  The college developed one of the finest Christian radio stations in the country, WMCU, and the radio station became an important center (if not the center) of evangelicalism in Greater Miami.  That is, its Christ centered message cut across church lines and leaped over the ministerial ruling class, right into minds of both church-goers and non-church goers.  (I remember from time-to-time hearing testimonies from people who said that, while listening to WMCU on their car radio, they had been moved to pull over to the side of the road, pour out their hearts to God, and accept his Son as Savior and Lord.  It still gives me goosebumps.)

The college struggled financially during the years I was on the board.  It was accredited by the Bible college accreditation agencies, but not by the agencies that accredit secular colleges.  Nevertheless, the University of Florida accepted its credits for transfer, as did many other secular colleges and universities.  Florida International University, however, a new and powerful kid on the block located in western Miami-Dade, emerged as the go-to state school for Latin kids who didn't want to go to UF or FSU.  (It is now a huge school with a big-time football team.)  Its founding president, a powerful, driving local Cuban-American politician, was not going to accept transfer credit from a tiny North-Dade Bible college whose mission he did not understand.  That hurt the college.  Furthermore, the neighborhood surrounding the 40 acre campus had become dangerous and uninviting.

By the late-1980s, MCC, was looking for a merger partner.  Quite a few suitors showed up, but they all were really interested in the radio station, which by that time was worth millions of dollars.  Our board, however, persisted in its view that WMCU was an adjunct to the central mission of the college, to offer a Christian liberal education to the young people of our region.

Finally, Dr. Kenneth M. Meyer, then president of Trinity Evangelical School and Trinity College came to see us.  I have never met a more complete Christian leader, a visionary, a fine preacher, a hard-headed businessman, and a great educator.  He understood the mission and he saw the radio station as a fit auxiliary to the college.  The board simply gave the school and its radio station to him, that is to Trinity (but it was really to Ken).

As a result of that merger, MCC was renamed Trinity-South Florida and, instantly, gained Trinity's secular accreditation.  Ken asked a couple of the MCC board members to come on the board of Trinity College, and I was one of them.  A few years later, Trinity College and TEDS, which shared a campus near Deerfield, Illinois, merged officially and Ken asked me to serve on the board of Trinity International University ("TIU").  As I said, it was an honor to serve on those boards (as it was on the board of MCC) and, especially, to see how Ken exercised his marvelous leadership gifts and to learn from him.

I served until 1998.  Ken retired about that time, and I had the sense that my time on the board had ended, so I left the board.  During the first decade of this century, a new administration took control of TIU and a board with a profoundly inadequate institutional memory assumed control.  It withdrew Trinity-South Florida's presence from Miami-Dade to a small refuge in Broward County and sold the radio station for many millions of dollars, taking the money back to Deerfield.  What a hurtful chapter in the history of that fine institution.  But that's another story.

(Sean will be interested in this article about Leslie Frazier's connection with Trinity and Ken.)

1 comment:

Sean Meade said...

so interesting! thanks, Paul.

and I missed the Frazier and TIU connection, so now I'm smarter about that, too :-)