For my own birthday, my wife Arlyne often plans surprises, and at times she conspires with members of the Gordon College community to pull off her tricks. On occasion she has enlisted the help of the next winner of the Provost’s Award. And this is such a great person for Arlyne to conspire with, since this staff member is not known for her deceptiveness. Instead, I have always admired her for her integrity, her calm and composed manner, and her consummate professionalism.
As the director of our Counseling Center, she is a superb listener, someone who works overtime to see students in need. In addition to being a wonderful therapist, she is a skilled manager and leader of people. That skill is evident when we do client evaluations, for the Counseling Center consistently receives accolades from students.
With a master’s degree in social work, she served briefly on the faculty before helping to launch the Counseling Center, which now serves one in every five Gordon students. Humble and dedicated, she is willing to do what needs to be done—once even painting the Counseling Center. A leader among counselors at Christian Colleges and Universities, she stays alert to the latest research in the field. From time to time she will teach a course, including a recent one on human sexuality. A few years ago, she led a thorough survey of students’ sexual attitudes and practices, and found a creative way to present the data to the campus through the production of a film. That film became a prompt for constructive, rather than threatening, conversation, something all too rare in evangelical Christian circles. In the many hours she spent interviewing students and pouring over video clips to create the film she made sure that the heart was not lost in all the numbers. As Barry Loy observes, she “cares about the humanity—the thoughts, feelings, and dreams—of the people she works with. She has the perfect mixture of ‘professional know how,’ empathy, and love for those who come to her for help.”
I know that personally I have often cherished her counsel. It is a privilege to be her friend—and to have been fooled by her in the past on my birthday. And so it is great fun this morning to pull my own surprise and present the Provost’s Awards on April 12, the birthday of the director of our Counseling Center, Janice Holton.
April 12, 2010