During a reception on May 13, colleagues officially wished Drs. Mark and Annalee Ward well as they embark on a new path of their professional and personal journey, which now leads them away from their long-time service at Trinity to the life God has called them to at the University of Dubuque.
Mark has accepted a position as vice president for academic affairs at the university, an institution affiliated with Presbyterian Church, USA. Since the late 1990s, the university has pursued a more intentional reformed Christian mission. The result has been a substantial growth in students and programs. His role will be to work with faculty in living out this transforming mission.
Annalee will be in residency at the university, researching Christian tourism and completing various writing projects. She will initially spend time settling in and pursuing the work she had originally planned for her Trinity sabbatical in the spring 2011 semester.
The Trinity years
Mark and Annalee were living in Oak Park, Illinois, before coming to Trinity, Mark employed in the business sector and Annalee working in Chicago and teaching evening classes at DePaul University.
Hearing of an opening for a business professor at Trinity, Mark applied and joined the faculty in 1984. Becoming deeply immersed in the academic community, he came to serve in other roles, including associate provost in 2004 and director of First Year Forum for new students.
“Graduates who take their place in the business world in a faithful approach indicate Mark’s contributions to the business department for over 25 years,” said Provost Liz Rudenga. “In addition, his administrative work in the Provost’s office provided guidance to many.”
After Mark joined the faculty in 1984, Annalee said she “waddled in” to Dr. Burt Rozema’s office, nine months pregnant, and asked if there was a class she could teach. The speech class was available. Her students later petitioned the College to change the two-credit course to be worth three credits. The request was granted, as was Annalee’s proposal for a minor in communication arts. Annalee eventually developed the curriculum for a communication arts major and was hired as a full-time professor in 2000.
The Communication Arts department is what Annalee refers to as “my third child.” Professionally, she said she has felt fulfilled in developing the program into the popular communication arts major it has become. She is thrilled to also have been a part of the planning of the long-envisioned Art and Communication Center.
“Annalee has led with vision as she and her colleagues have shaped the communication arts program to be directed toward faithful engagement,” said President Steve Timmermans, Ph.D.
Beyond the classroom walls
For both Mark and Annalee, personal fulfillment has come through the relationships they’ve formed over the years with colleagues and with students, relationships that have lasted far beyond the end of the semester or even graduation.
They each spent time recalling some of the many interactions with students and fellow professors that were not confined within classroom walls but served to expand their Trinity “family.”
“There are so many, many stories,” said Annalee, “praying with a student in my office, celebrating the marriage of a student, mourning with a colleague over the loss of a family member.”
Recalling a recent, but representative example, Mark spoke of observing his business students interacting with business people in the community during a workshop—“a moment of pride” for him.
Gathering in the ARCC
Although the Wards have been very purposeful in keeping their academic lives separate—from not sitting next to each other at meetings to developing individual circles of friends on campus—they have expressed their shared grief over leaving the community that Annalee calls a “unique family.” The announcement that Mark would be accepting a new position at UD and their pain at saying goodbye was told through tears to students in their classes last week.
At the reception on May 13, held in the Art and Communication Center, colleagues celebrated and honored the Wards’ contributions to the College and the friendships formed during their combined 51 years at Trinity. Words of encouragement and support, as well as touching and humorous memories, were shared by various faculty members.
The following day, the last day of the 2010-11 academic year, the Wards sent a final message of thanks to all: “This community of love and grace has been a gift in our lives, and you will always be a community we pray for and support. It has been wonderful to share our lives with all of you.”