From the Trenches: John Nunes

From the Trenches: John Nunes

The Rev. Dr. John Arthur Nunes, president of Concordia College-New York, seeks to answer the question,

The Rev. Dr. John Arthur Nunes, president of Concordia College-New York, seeks to answer the question, “How do we go back to school?” This sense of purpose is not surprising given that the school’s goal is to “serve [the] students so that they can serve the world.” The faculty and staff met in May to set this as their destination, with President Nunes adjusting the sails of the Clipper ship Concordia in order to make it possible for its near 1400 students. The school was well prepared to take on the online and distance learning challenge, and the students rose to the challenge as well since they are, as Dr. Nunes states, “strivers, believers, and achievers. Concordia will continue in new and innovative ways to fulfill its mission. Covid-19 was an opportunity for adaptation.” Those students will return in the fall to a hybrid learning experience.

When asked how else Covid-19 affected Concordia, Dr. Nunes replied, “Covid-19 for this community became an intensifier and accelerator. This crisis served as an opportunity to think more clearly about our mission and build consensus around that clarity.” Many of the students are first-generation college students, and the people at Concordia tasked to help them create their futures cannot let this go. An education from Concordia for them means social mobility and financial security.

An education from Concordia for the students in the nursing, social work, and education programs means an opportunity to be in the front lines, making a difference in the world. President Nunes and his staff make sure that the community around them in Bronxville and in the rest of the world can stand up and take notice to assist these young men and woman make that difference. They are seeking to strengthen the partnerships already in place, and looking for new partnerships with other institutions in order to continue to provide the opportunities to these students to make a difference. Because of their efforts through the Covid-19 crisis, giving was at its highest since 2014, especially from the alumni community and a record number of first-time givers.

For these donors and for Dr. Nunes, Covid-19 brought about the realization that a neighbor isn’t just the person next door. “The definition of neighbor shifts. Jesus defines our neighbor as the one who shows mercy. It is a challenge to show mercy when you are socially distant. We need more than technology. We need neighbors. We need human connection. We are made for community. We have to expand that circle. We have to build with a more diverse circle. Covid-19 and social unrest are teaching us new ways to answer that question “who are the people in your neighborhood?” and “won’t you be my neighbor?” We have to find innovative and creative ways to answer these questions.” One way Concordia will seek to do that is by launching this fall a Tuesday 10:30 morning virtual morning reflection time. This will feature pastors and deaconesses from all over the world coming together on this virtual campus to portray Concordia’s message of hope. As Dr. Nunes states, “We are more in the hope business than the education business. Giving our students hope for a better future. This would not have happened without Covid.”

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