Carol Herrick (2011)

No doubt, many of you have received emails from our first honoree, and if you have you may remember that her messages end with a quotation from Micah 6:8: "What does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." Many Christians love to cite this verse; far fewer people actually live it.  I know of few people who live it so clearly as our first recipient today.

 Any college needs policies and standards.  Faithful adherence to these principles is essential for preserving institutional integrity and accreditation.  At the same time, it can be easy to embrace the strict letter of the law when enforcing policies, retreating into a static bureaucracy rather than sorting through difficult decisions with humanity and wisdom.

 For nearly a decade and a half, I have sat alongside our Registrar in countless meetings when we have established policies, assessed curriculum, heard appeals, and weighed unique circumstances.  During all those discussions she has been discerning and principled, always intent to affirm and uphold vital standards, gently and firmly reminding us when we lost focus, and yet eager to find solutions marked by grace and good will. Although she often has the tough task of holding the line, I can assure you that she cares deeply about students, and consistently strives to find honorable ways to give students new opportunities to learn, to recover from mistakes, and to build on successes. 

One of her colleagues in the Registrar’s Office, Susan Johnson, remarks, “Everyone in our office has great respect for her . . . she has a wonderful way of striking a balance between the necessity to uphold regulations and treating the students with understanding and empathy.  Often when I send letters of suspension or probation in for her signature they come back with a few words of encouragement penned at the bottom of the letter.”  Academic Dean Dan Russ adds:  “I am most impressed that in her role of holding Gordon students and faculty to the highest standards, she never forgets that she and her staff are there to serve people.”

It is that blend of justice and mercy—accompanied by a humble spirit that is genuine to the core—that has made her so widely respected by her peers. And whether she is guiding the Pike Honors Committee, serving on a task force for a new program, or continually caring for classroom spaces, she consistently has the best interests of students at heart. So it is an honor for me to salute our Registrar, Carol Herrick, as a recipient of the 2011 Provost’s Award.

February 10, 2011