Wheaton magazine

Volume 22 // Issue 3
Wheaton magazine // Autumn 2019
Letter From The President
President’s Perspective

President's Perspective

Dr. Philip G. Ryken, '88, President
Illustration by Bernd Schifferdecker

“What would Prexy say?”  I asked myself, thinking back to Wheaton's fourth president. “And what would Dr. Armerding think, if he could see them now?” 

It was Reunion Weekend, and I was walking around from one alumni dinner to the next, greeting the Classes of 1979, 1969, and more—“brave sons and daughters true,” going all the way back to 1944.

The next day was Commencement, when I would hand diplomas to around 600 members of the Class of 2019 ready to make their way out into the world.

As I juxtaposed Reunion and Commencement, I couldn’t help but wonder what my predecessors would think of their former students 40, 50, even 75 years after they graduated. What would Dr. Edman and Dr. Armerding hope to see today in the students they led half a century ago?

I like to think that our former presidents would be gratified to see their old students again and to learn what God has accomplished in and through them since graduation. The alumni I met were eager to talk about the difference their time at Wheaton had made in the rest of their lives. They displayed a deep affection for their old classmates. The laughter came easily, along with a few tears. The worship came easily, too, with joyful praise for the faithfulness of God.

What stories will the Class of 2019 tell when they come back to campus in 2069? What praise will they offer to Jesus Christ?

Coming back for a 50th reunion is almost beyond the imagination of today’s students. For them, seeing elder alumni is a sobering curiosity. Theoretically, they know that they will turn 70 someday, but the thought is far from mind.

I think about it, though, and wonder what they will accomplish—by the grace of God—“For Christ and His Kingdom.”

My prayer is that today’s Wheaton students will become lifelong learners who love God’s truth wherever they find it. This is one of the highest goals of a Christian liberal arts education. But my deepest hope is that they will walk with God all their days. I pray that their lives will count for the kingdom—that they will make the full difference for Jesus Christ that someone with their unique gifts and exceptional education can make.

Some day, long after I am gone, one of my successors will welcome “my” students back to Wheaton and wonder what my hopes were for them. My answer is perhaps best expressed in the words of the apostle John, who said he had “no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth” (3 John 1:4, ESV).