I’ve been to lots of colleges to speak and lecture, but never to one like the College of the Ozarks, a unique college sitting on the hill just west of the river/lake of Branson MO. My invitation was to be a convocation speaker for spiritual emphasis week and I focused on two themes: loving others (Jesus Creed, enemies, and the meaning of love) and loving God (prayer).
Great group of students, led by talented worship team, and also fun chatting with them beforehand in the green room.
Many of you know I taught college students for 17 years and this is my first year at Northern Seminary, but I miss college students — so it was good to be among them again. Energizing.
College of the Ozarks has a unique feature: it is a “work university,” about which I knew precious little and had ignored most of that. Students are required to work 15 hours per week on campus, no one pays a dime of tuition, students do pay room and board but they can opt for 12 weeks of 40-hr work to pay off their room and board — and hence go “free.” The entire approach is why the school is called “Hard Work U.” My impression was that students become adults at this school and in no small part because they work their way through school. The maturity level of the students is noteworthy. Life skills and work ethic are absorbed alongside an education.
I got to stay at the Keeter Center and it was so incredibly cool — a massive log cabin structure. Back to students working: the hotel is filled with college students working, from room service to the shops to the restaurant to the coffee shop to the ice cream shop.
Two former students teach there — Mark Rapinchuk and Eric Bolger — and I was impressed by the Dean, Justin Carswell, and my student companion, Kevin — a serious young man headed off to seminary in Birmingham whose name I can’t now recall (wink, wink, nod, nod).
A small pond in the middle had a bundle of Buffleheads and Scaups … always nice to spot some ducks in migration season.