It’s an exciting time in Multnomah’s history. Our presidential inauguration for Dr. Craig Williford is just a few weeks away now. As a community, we are energized and enthusiastic in looking forward to this significant celebration. Our focus will be one of “Praise and Worship” – a theme most fitting, I believe, in response to God’s overwhelming blessing to MU at this time.
On the trails of such a difficult season, with the loss of Dr. Lockwood, it feels as if new life is being breathed into the University in beautiful and undeniable ways. I am humbled and honored to be an eye witness participant.
As it is with any season of transition, I am learning anew the importance of letting go and of joyfully embracing the future. While, no doubt, history plays a significant role in shaping us and feelings of great loss often accompany that of letting go; it is with this understanding and a hopeful expectation that I look forward to what God has ahead.
I’d like to commemorate this season, if I may, by reflecting on history past and sharing with you a few of my favorite “Dr. Dan” memories.
When I think of Dr. Dan, I remember a man of humility, wisdom, strength, character and ‘over the top’ optimism.
He was inspiring as a biblical scholar, and a remarkable orator with an unbelievable ability to alliterate. His Dr. Dan Magic shows were an all-time favorite for many — an entertaining illusionist extraordinaire.
Over the past decade and a half, I had the privilege of working alongside him and witnessing up close a faith that was awe-inspiring. He was indeed a man of intense faith, demonstrated consistently in his response to what it meant to trust God amidst adversity and in times of life’s unknowns.
He was a man with a beautiful servant’s heart and a genuine interest in people. While there are many things I admired about Dr. Dan, probably one of the most significant memories I have was during the summer of 2009 when I was facing a season of my own adversity. I had been suffering from a relapse of malaria that I had picked up on a mission’s trip a few weeks prior. Dr. Dan came into my office and sat across from my desk and, with compassion and concern in his eyes, inquired about my health and the decision I had made to follow through with an upcoming alumni trip. He was genuinely concerned. It didn’t matter to him the events that had been scheduled, the plans that had been made, the airfares that had been purchased, or the hotels that had been booked. What he communicated clearly to me that day, was that I mattered! People were important to him. I was important to him, and he wanted me to be sure that I knew it.
There are no words deep and/or meaningful enough to express the impact of his leadership and the great privilege it has been to know him and serve alongside him these past eighteen years.
I will never forget his last chapel as Multnomah’s president, when he announced to the MU community the grim prognosis from his doctor, and the recommendation to step down from his presidency in order that he might spend some cherished time with family. He spoke with such courage and confidence that day — full of faith and optimism, as one would only imagine coming from Dr. Dan. He said, “If ever you are wondering, ‘Is God really a God who loves me...a God who cares for me…is God one who is concerned about every aspect of my life?’...just remember Dan Lockwood as someone who can testify — even in the midst of cancer, maybe near the end of that journey and looking forward to the next great adventure, that God has been good, God has been faithful and God can be trusted.” He graciously and humbly shared from a heart of gratitude that saw God at work even in the face of intense adversity. His cancer journey truly demonstrated what it meant to live a life of faith with full endurance to the finish line.
The values and characteristics of his life have indelibly marked this University and those he has served. Today on Multnomah’s campus, you’ll find in our prayer circle a bronze plaque placed in his honor that reads: “Honoring A Legacy of Faith – Dr. Daniel R. Lockwood, Multnomah University’s Fourth President, 1997-2013. ‘And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.’ Hebrews 11:6.” We have also changed the name and focus of the Multnomah Fund to “The Dr. Dan Lockwood Student Aid Fund”.
My hope is that this commemorative plaque and Dr. Dan’s student aid fund will serve as a continued reminder to the Multnomah community of the faith he demonstrated in the life that he lived.
Whether or not you knew Dan personally, my prayer for all of us today is that our hearts would be encouraged and challenged to live with such faith. As we embrace the future, the unknowns and what God has ahead, let us not forget: “God is good. God is faithful, and God can be trusted.”
Celebrating the past and embracing the future,
Michelle M. Peel-Underwood B.A. '00, M.A. '10
Director of Alumni Relations
P.S. I’m looking forward to helping introduce Multnomah’s fifth president, Dr. Craig Williford, during our Presidential tour coming next spring. Look for more details to come.