Dean of Students Rick Engstrom will be leaving the University at the end of this school year.
Engstrom has accepted a position as Dean of Student Development at Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington.
With a lot of family on the West Coast, Engstrom and wife, Shelley, are looking forward to being able to spend more time with them now that they will be in Washington.
“In a way, it’s a family decision. We’ll be able to see family more,” he said. Engstrom said his biggest challenge during his time at MVNU was trying to get away to visit family so far away.
Engstrom’s new position also is a step up in his career, as he will be taking on more responsibility and overseeing more departments than he did as Dean of Students at MVNU.
“It’s a good opportunity career-wise. I will now be overseeing intercultural life, campus life, and residence life (at NU),” Engstrom said.
Shelley Engstrom also works for the University, as the Program Coordinator for Academic Support. This year, she was instrumental in developing a new curriculum and approach for the campus Writing Lab, promoting the lab, leading workshops and handling a variety of administrative duties.
Though this is a positive step for Rick and Shelley Engstrom, the decision to move away from the place they have called home for the last four years brings mixed emotions.
“We’re both excited, but then there’s definitely a season of mourning when you’re so deeply connected to the community and there’s a lot of people you love,” Engstrom said. “There’s this excitement for this newness, this adventure, and then there’s something endearing and special about the past several years that you’re not ready to let go of, but you need to.”
Not surprisingly, Engstrom said the thing he will miss the most about MVNU is the people: students, faculty and staff alike.
“I will miss those relationships quite a bit,” he said.
The annual graduation ceremony is a particularly significant event for him, and he hates to think about not being here to see the current freshmen, sophomores and juniors reach that milestone.
“Graduation is a really meaningful experience for me — to just be there, and see these faces, and think about their stories, and how far they’ve come in four years,” he said.
“There’s always going to be those students who motivate you and inspire you to keep going,” but Engstrom said even after he moves, he will “still always be rooting for them.”
It also will be hard to say goodbye to his staff, Engstrom said.
“I’ll miss my team. I have a great team. I love my RDs a lot. I’ll miss them,” he said.
Overall though, Engstrom said he will look back on his time at MVNU fondly. He said he has been especially touched by the connection between service and learning in the MVNU community.
“I love the approach here at MVNU. Sometimes we glorify service into some other-worldly phenomenon, and we don’t think about it as a daily posture,” but that’s not the case on this campus, he said.
His challenge to the student body, he said, is to make “ this posture of service and love become part of everything we do.”
“From where I am now in life, I think it’s about just love and showing love to one another and, maybe if we figure that out, we figure everything else out,” he said. “We’re all trying to learn together, but maybe let’s try to learn to love and serve one another, and that might be the most significant form of learning that we can offer a student.”
Rick and Shelley Engstrom are both spoken of very highly at MVNU, and their presence here will be sorely missed.
“We will miss Rick and the professionalism, great work ethic and teamwork he has brought to the Student Life office and campus community,” said Sessink in her email announcing his departure.
“He has been a joy to work with and we wish him and his wife, Shelley, all the best.”