In many respects it seems strange to be giving this award on a cold, icy February day. When I think of our first recipient, I usually picture him outside on a spring afternoon or in a warm climate. But I do remember one bitter February morning, during a chapel hour, when I found him outside trying to chip away at the thick layer of ice that covered the big vents on the side of A.J. Gordon Memorial Chapel. He wanted to insure that the sanctuary was properly ventilated, that the air quality inside the building was healthy so the service could continue.
That is, in so many ways, the spirit that he embodies: someone who works tirelessly, often behind the scenes, to care for both the physical environment and the spiritual vitality of the College. It is a spirit evident in more than a dozen years of teaching Discovery classes and promoting stewardship through Restore Creation activities.
It is a spirit that prompts him to rescue drivers on the side of the road, to go to many weddings and funerals, and to listen to countless students as they wrestle through tough issues and search for their purpose and calling.
Perhaps most of all, it is a spirit that invigorates his leadership of Mexico Outreach, the program that he helped start in 1996. For more than a decade he has planned the trips, established relationships with churches and organizations in Tijuana, counseled students on the journey, and cared for orphans. Throughout it all, he has led by example, not only teaching but also often becoming the first on his team to wash dishes for the orphans and workers.
As Dean Carmer notes, he is “a man of deep faith who prays earnestly that he would remain in God’s will” and is respected by students for his “gentle and approachable manner, his plain-spoken wisdom and his willingness to entrust students with responsibility.” I am delighted to present the first of our two inaugural Provost’s Awards to Mark Stowell.
February 26, 2007