A Q&A with United Way: Andrews University

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Andrea Luxton, president of Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan, had this to say about the school's relationship with United Way:

“Andrews University is committed to the idea of effective world change (We often say “World Changers Made Here” to articulate that commitment by Andrews). As we do that, we realize that 'world' is not just on the other side of the globe, but also on the other side of the street. We are surrounded here in Southwest Michigan by neighbors and needs that reflect the need for positive and lasting world change. In that sense, United Way of Southwest Michigan is a profoundly important partner with us as we seek to understand and transform the Southwest Michigan communities that we call home, and that are filled with neighbors who are our brothers and sisters.”

Andrews is a pillar in this community. What community issues are important to your university?

While Andrews University is a truly global community (US News ranks us as No. 1 for ethnic diversity and No. 10 for percentage of international students)—our world also is right here in Southwest Michigan, which we chose as home base for our school in 1901. We’re a place that has always been interested in the idea that we are transformed—and we transform our students—by focusing on the whole person, and as a result, the four goals of United Way—Education, Income, Health and Basic Needs—are a whole-person orientation for our community here in Southwest Michigan, and a natural fit with our mission and goals.

Andrews has had a long standing relationship with United Way. Why is this relationship important to Andrews faculty and students?

One of the ways we describe Andrews University is the phrase “World Changers Made Here.” While that obviously has global implications for the 90,000 Andrews graduates who study, work and live around the world—they also have the opportunity to understand the needs of the world right here in our back yard, and to become world changers while we are students, faculty and staff on our Berrien Springs campus. In fact, our new Change Day, started in Fall 2017 (more than 1,500 faculty, students and staff took the day off to tackle community projects) is inspired by and interwoven with a variety of projects and places that are important to United Way of Southwest Michigan as well. And the work we do with our Community Engagement Council, and two new staff positions for Community Engagement Integration & Service and Service & Missions, share in understanding and integrating with United Way as we pursue these common goals.

Andrews campaign for UWSM has seen great success. What are some of the things you do to engage your team?

Probably most notably (or notoriously!), we sent our previous president, Dr. Niels-Erik Andreasen, in business attire into our pool once we achieved our United Way campaign goal. But beyond that, we’ve done simple and straightforward things like literally cheering our community on (the campus United Way cheerleader assignments beginning just before dawn, stationed at all the main employee entrances), and working hard to ensure that we have embedded campaign managers/leaders that can connect directly with the different staff and faculty groups across our campus.

Anything exciting on the horizon for Andrews this year? 

There’s literally something physical and new going up on our campus on our northwest horizon—a new Center for Wellness is going up on our campus (you can read more about the project here: https://www.andrews.edu/wellnesscenter/ and you can watch the building go up on our construction cam: https://www.andrews.edu/about/webcams.html). The project should be complete and open by a year from now—but it’s a project that is central to our idea of whole person education and inspiration for our campus community. However, we’ve also chosen a spot at the very front of campus for this new and important project, because we hope and plan to involve our local community as well with wellness options that reflect many of the needs that United Way of Southwest Michigan also focuses on day in and day out—especially in the areas of health.

Ryan CheeversComment