President Michael Pawelke used football as a metaphor to describe the changes that his leadership style may bring to Briercrest.
“There are many ways to get the ball down the field,” he explained. “When there’s a new quarterback or a new coach, he’s going to have different plays, but we’re still moving the ball down the field. We’re still advancing the mission of Briercrest and the mission of Christ.”
As the new president “takes the ball” of leadership, he feels grateful for those leaders and their teams that came before him.
“I’m very excited and very honoured to be building on a wonderfully strong, solid and meaningful foundation of all our preceding presidents,” he said. “I feel like all the blessings we’re enjoying are certainly the fruit of God’s grace, but they’re also the fruit of the labours of those leaders and their respective teams through the years.”
“I think most recently our focus has been on making Briercrest academically strong and satisfying provincial accreditation expectations and quality assurance expectations,” he continued. “So a lot of energy has been inward and appropriately so.”
With these things in place, Pawelke now hopes to bring the news about Briercrest to a broader audience.
“One of the shifts that people will see is that I will be a little bit more ‘big picture’ and will promote the school on a larger scale,” he explained. “We have a product with which we feel very confident. I want to promote the mission of Briercrest and the quality of our institution to a larger Canadian audience.”
Pawelke knows that these sorts of transitions must be done thoughtfully.
“You want to seize the opportunity to make changes, but you don’t want to move too quickly either,” he said.
Part of this careful process of bringing change is to understand the culture.
“I am trying to do a lot of listening,” Pawelke stated. “I’m trying to navigate the delicate balance of initiating change and acting as a change agent while acknowledging that I need to understand my context and my setting and move forward wisely and prudently.”
The president is confident in the message he wants to carry about Briercrest.
“I certainly want to be reaffirming our core – that Briercrest for 76 years now has been anchored in historical orthodoxy and a high view of Scripture,” he explained. “At the same time we are constantly recalibrating ourselves for our times, so things like degree granting authorization are just part of being effective in the cultural context and the times we find ourselves.”
“Credentials matter,” he continued. “Our education standards matter and we embrace that responsibility and that opportunity. The message remains, but the methods are constantly changing.”