On September 18, 2018, the entire faculty and staff at Palmer Seminary sent a letter to the President, Provost, and Vice-Provost of Eastern University requesting that Dr. David Bronkema, then Interim Dean since January 2016, be appointed Dean of the Seminary. Almost three years later, we bid a fond farewell to David this month, as he transitions to serve as faculty of the Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership within the College of Business and Leadership.
“The human mind plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps” (Prov 16:9). While we are sad to see David go, we rest assured that he is answering God’s call to this new position. Not only is David leaving Palmer in a position of overall health through over five and a half years of faithful and innovative service, he has also given faculty, staff, and students an exemplary model of Christ-centered and collaborative leadership that is worthy of emulation.
In May, Palmer faculty and staff made a video to express our gratitude to David. These soundbites bear witness to who David is as a person, his leadership style, and what he means to those who have worked closely with him: “persistent optimism in the Lord,” “always convinced there’s a solution,” “always ready for encouragement and prayer,” “collaborative,” “a humble spirit,” “open for correction,” “listens sans judgment,” “a humble leader, a welcoming leader, a relational leader,” “a leader who gets things done but certainly not a pushover,” “possesses a gentle way of leading and communicating,” “one who holds power and privilege but uses them faithfully,” “constant nurturing and lifting up of other people,” “compassionate toward students,” “friend,” “advocate,” “cheerleader,” “intricate knowledge of globalization,” “proficiency in many languages,”—and this one says it all—“an omni-talented man and a deeply committed follower of Jesus, always calling us to remember our priorities.”
The impact David has made on Palmer is indisputable, whether spiritually, relationally, or programmatically. Trust and respect cannot be demanded, only earned, and these go both ways between David and his colleagues. As we send him off with our prayers and blessings, we welcome Dr. Kimberlee Johnson as our Interim Dean, and we look forward to new dreams, collaborations, and adventures in the Lord together.