Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Monday, September 24, 2018

Trustee, bishop seeks greater input from students

Says better connections are crucial to board success

John Schol, bishop of the Baltimore-Washington conference of the United Methodist Church spoke last night in the Kay Spiritual Center and said that as a member of the AU board of trustees, he plans to forge closer connections to students, faculty and administrators.

Schol is the first Methodist bishop to preach at AU, a Methodist affiliated school, in at least 50 years.

Last semester, Schol met with a group of students to talk about issues concerning the university and the Methodist church, but he said he previously failed to seek input from beyond the board even though students and faculty are among the most affected by the trustees' decisions.

"I don't think you can make good decisions unless you have input of students," Schol said. "Informal interaction is critical.

"The only way I could be a trustee was not just to relate to the board but to the faculty, the deans and students," Schol said.

Coming here "meant that he cares a lot about his relationship with us, not just the Methodist community but the whole university and he was living the message," Rev, Mark Schaefer, Methodist Chaplin at AU, said. "A bishop who's involved is very unusual in the last few decades."

Schol preached about the importance of relationships and reaching out to others, in line with Jesus' example.

"I pray to God that He would help [board members] to make the decisions that make us a beacon around the world for justice, equality and education," Schol said.

About 40 AU students attended the event, including those of different faiths.

"Those of us not part of the Christian faith can still take part of the message away ad be an agent for change in our community," Peter Brusoe, chair of Graduate Leadership Council, said.

Schol encouraged students to continue to be "engaged in the world" while also focusing on academia.

"I encourage students to stay engaged in what's happening in life, in the world and in the community and to participate in things that will make a difference," Schol said.

Schol was elected Bishop of the United Methodist in July 2004, according to the United Methodist Church news website, www.umc.org.

Schol said he was very active in the Methodist Church while growing up and that he received a lot of positive feedback and encouragement to lead a life of faith. The United Methodist Church was created in 1968, according to www.umc.org.


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