Interview with the President

by Jeremy Bjelland, Panther Press

Whether you are a student, a staff or faculty member, a parent, or a visitor, one thing that you will notice for nearly two years is that the president of York College seems to be everywhere. Dr. Steve Eckman became the York College president in January 2009.

President Eckman is a York College alum. He received his Associate of Arts degree as a student at York College in 1971. He then went on to receive his Bachelor of Arts in Bible from Harding College. He then attended Abilene Christian where he received his Master of Divinity in Biblical Studies. He received his Doctor of Ministry from Ambridge University this year.

In past years, President Eckman worked for York College as an admissions counselor, director of admissions, director of financial aid, and managed the bookstore. He then went on to Lubbock Christian University and held positions as assistant director of admissions, dean of students, associate professor of Bible, director of institutional effectiveness, director of research, and was the vice president for student services. He later served as the senior grant officer for J. F. Maddox Foundation. He then worked at Ohio Valley University as vice president for advancement and executive vice president before coming to York College.

York College is honored to have a president who cares about his students, faculty and staff, college, and community in the way he does.

YC faculty and staff recently submitted questions for the President. Below are his answers. The questions and his response give us an insight into our YC leader.

Ramona Ratliff: How many children do you have? What are their ages, where do they live, and do you have any grandchildren?
President Eckman: LaRee and I have two boys, Jarred (35) and Jeremy (32). Jarred is in San Antonio. He and his wife Cara have four children, Scott (10), Casie (9), Andrew (7), and Kimi (3). Jeremy lives in the Houston area, having just moved from Lubbock. He has no children.

Ruth Carlock: Where did you meet your wife?
President Eckman: LaRee and I met at York College. We were both in the East Hill Minstrels [a YC performing group] and spent a lot of time together traveling and representing the school. We were married after our sophomore year in Gurganus Hall.

Patti Jensen: What did you write about in your dissertation? What kind of research did you conduct?
President Eckman: I actually started my dissertation in 1994 at Texas Tech University with the title "Teaching Values to College Students in Institutions Associated with the Churches of Christ." The original dissertation had several steps, first determining the values held by the eight universities I was studying. The second step involved sending over 3,000 surveys to these eight schools to be filled out by students to determine their values and who best taught them on their campuses. The third step was to qualitatively study the top four faculty identified from the surveys as exemplary in teaching values. I spent a week on three campuses shadowing these individuals. I had written several hundred pages of this dissertation when Texas Tech released my chairman. Three other committee members left and at the time I no longer lived in Lubbock. Since it looked like I would not remain in higher education, I didn't pursue constructing a new committee and did not complete the dissertation. However, I eventually used the initial research from the Texas Tech to do a dissertation titled:

A Longitudinal Comparison of Catalog Value
Statements by
Eight Church of Christ Universities

This dissertation was completed at Amridge University. I may hold some sort of record with over 300 graduate hours on my transcript.

Bobby DeHart: What is your favorite part of being president of York College?
President Eckman: Interaction with students. I am constantly amazed at the potential of the students who go here and what a difference they will make in the world. Also, we have the most grateful, polite and kind students I have experienced anywhere.

Michael Becker: What brings you the greatest joy in life?
President Eckman: Many things, I am not sure there is a greatest. Spending time with family and friends, studying God's word, hunting, fishing, skiing, working here.

Nick Parsons: How many big-game animals have you killed while hunting? How many of each (elk, caribou, whitetail, etc) were they?
President Eckman: I am really unsure, these are just estimates; 4 or 5 elk; 4 caribou, maybe 10 or 12 whitetail. I didn't do much hunting the 20 years we lived in Texas.

Coach Luther: Where did you become a ski instructor? How and why did you become a ski instructor?
President Eckman: I started at Red River, New Mexico and worked for several years at Angel Fire, NM (all part time). I went to a hiring session at Red River, NM and they offered me a job. Why? We had moved to Texas and my outdoor hobby of hunting was not possible, so I needed another outdoor winter sport and because you get to ski free when you are an instructor. It is fun to watch the "light bulb" turn on when someone gets it. I have found through the years that anyone can learn to ski, no matter what their gender, physical condition or age. I have taught people from 2 yrs to 88 years how to ski.

Brent Magner: What were some of your best or funniest memories of living Hulitt Hall.
President Eckman: Hmm, what is the statute of limitations on this? Clif Harris, Roger Hannel and I had a blast our freshman year. I guess the time we caught a mouse in our room, boxed it up and sent it via campus mail to Pam Loutzenhiser. We were famous for a while.

Al Arth: What comes to mind when you walk about the York College campus?
President Eckman: The unlimited potential of this place. There are so many opportunities to grow and impact the lives of people here.

Frank Wheeler: What are some of your long term plans/visions for York College?
President Eckman: Some of them are: First of all financial stability and strength. Continued growth of the student body to sustainable levels that fit with our mission and capacity. Construct a building that will house chapel and fine arts performances. Provide state of the art classroom faciltiies for instruction. Strengthen and grow programs to better attract and serve students. Continue to provide support for churches in the north central states.

Ken Gunselman: What challenges do you face at York College? How do they compare with the challenges you've seen elsewhere?
President Eckman: I think the biggest challenge I have is making people, both on campus and off, understand the incredible impact of York College and to believe in its potential and its future. God has so richly blessed this place, especially recently, it is amazing to see Him at work here. Another challenge is learning student names. I have trouble remembering names but it frustrates me when I don't know student names.

Thessali Jones: Who is your favorite actress? Why is she your favorite actress?
President Eckman: Myrna Loy. I love the Thin Man movies with William Powell

Gayle Good: What time do you generally get to work in the morning?
President Eckman: 5:30-6:15 a.m.

Meghan Salsbury: What is your most embarrassing moment?
President Eckman: There are so many, and I don't dwell on them much so I really have a hard time remembering them. However, I am always embarrassed by public displays. Probably the most recent is last year when they presented a cake to me in chapel on my birthday.

Dan Cole: Where did you go to high school?
President Eckman: Midwest City High School (OK), Carl Albert High School (OK), Parkland High School (El Paso). We moved a lot.

Rick Eldred: Favorite memory while a student atYork College?
President Eckman: Getting married to LaRee.

Tim Lewis: What makes you most proud of the York College students?
President Eckman: Their compassion and energy. Their gratefulness and concern for others. They are so dedicated and involved in life.

Janet Rush: How many years have you and La Ree been married?
President Eckman: 39 years

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