In Good Hands Millican passes torch to Brewer after 15 years as OC board chair
After a distinguished 15-year tenure chairing OC’s Board of Trustees, Don Millican passed the torch to Mark Brewer in April. As Mark moves into the chairman role and Don continues to serve as a trustee, they reflected on their board service, talked about this place we call home, and shared their hopes and dreams for OC.
HOW DID YOU FIRST GET INVOLVED WITH OC?
DON: When we moved to Oklahoma City in 1975, we went to church with many who either worked for OC or had graduated from OC. In 1978, Howard Leftwich asked me to teach income tax on an adjunct basis, which I did several times in the ensuing years.
MARK: I was asked by Mike O’Neal at Alfred Branch’s suggestion to join the board. I think I had only been on the campus two or three times prior to that first conversation.
WHAT SKILLS FROM YOUR CAREER DO YOU LEAN ON MOST AS A TRUSTEE?
DON: Edwin Friedman coined a term called “non-anxious presence.” His point was that a key element of leadership is a calm and steady hand in the midst of turmoil, and to be visible and present during those times. In the financial world, you encounter a great deal of stress and turmoil over the years. Perhaps that experience has helped me face some difficult times on the board.
MARK: Operational experiences in manufacturing and IT have helped me a lot in my thinking as a board member. Getting things done, collaboration experiences, and working across geographies, cultures and the like all have helped shape how I think about problems and opportunities at OC.
WHAT SHOULD PEOPLE KNOW ABOUT THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES?
DON: I could not be more proud of the talent and energy of the members of our board – many different backgrounds and expertise, each person dedicated to the success of the school. During my tenure as chair, I encouraged open debate and celebrated non-unanimous votes. There was no rubber-stamping. These dedicated servants expressed their strong and informed opinions, voices were heard, and then a vote taken. Then we all supported the decision.
WHAT MOTIVATES YOUR DESIRE TO CHAMPION ETHOS AND SIMILAR STUDENT SERVICES?
MARK: I think students today have it harder than when I was going to school. There is pressure to fit in, look like someone else, succeed, and do it all. It’s overwhelming. So I’m interested in services like Ethos and U!Shine and others that are here to help students find their way.
WHY SHOULD STUDENTS CHOOSE OC AS THEIR COLLEGE HOME?
DON: The integration of faith and learning is the most important reason in my book. But it is also crucial for students and parents to understand that the quality of education is superior to state schools (and I went to a state school). Nothing can match having full professors teaching the majority of the undergraduate classes.
MARK: I’ve come to realize the importance of an education with a Christian worldview. There are a lot of confusing and conflicting views out there; some are based on well-developed thinking, but many others are not. Having a framework to knit everything together is very much needed. Caring and concerned faculty and staff make a difference, too. Go to OC, be taught with a Christian worldview by great people, be surrounded by other good people who are trying to do the same. That is why you should go to OC.
WHAT DO YOU HOPE STUDENTS TAKE AWAY FROM OC?
MARK: God created this universe and stepped into it 2,000 years ago. Despite all the trouble and confusion, there is a story unfolding and there is a part to play by all of us. Getting a solid education with a Christian worldview can make all the difference in people’s lives across a lifetime.
DON: A deeper and more resilient faith, a lifelong love of learning, an understanding that truth is not fragile, and an understanding that faith and academics are not incompatible.
WHAT INITIAL GOALS AND OBJECTIVES DO YOU HAVE AS CHAIR?
MARK: I’d like to see us raise enrollment by a meaningful amount. That means: 1) new programs and services; 2) more recruiting of high school students; and 3) more services to retain those who choose to come here. I think we can do all these things.
WHAT MUST OC REMAIN COMMITTED TO MOVING FORWARD?
DON: I often say the world does not need another secular liberal arts university. There are plenty of those. What the Dying of the Light (Burtchaell) and Quality with Soul (Benne) tell us is that a series of small decisions made over time pave the way from faith-based education to relativism to secularism. They tell us we must think through every decision to assess what it will mean to spiritual mission 20 and 30 years from now, together with decisions already made and those that may be made later as a result of the decision at hand.
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM FOR OC?
MARK: I’d like for OC to be a destination school where we are recognized in the United States as a great university with great academic teaching within a solid Christian worldview.
DON: I believe it is possible for OC to be the absolute best in the country at integrating faith with learning. That does not mean we have learning, then have spiritual activities separately. It means we become the best at teaching academics within a Christian worldview. There is no reason we can’t claim that flag. No one else has claimed it.
View more stories from the Spring 2017 issue of Vision magazine.