In the final scene of Pixar’s The Incredibles (2004), a drilling machine bursts through the street and a mole-like man steps forward to address the screaming masses: “Behold, the Underminer! I'm always beneath you, but nothing is beneath me! I hereby declare war on peace and happiness! Soon, all will tremble before me!"
I think that scene was in my mind several years ago when I asked In Trust about writing an article that I wanted to call “How to undermine your president.” It may be that I was also reading way too many articles on how to get more eyes on your writing. There's no better way to get someone to click than a title that seems to challenge a reader's idea of right and wrong.
Once I got the go ahead, the trick was finding a president or two to interview. The right person had to have plenty of experience as a seminary president, as well as some familiarity with the experiences of other presidents. She or he also had to be willing to share that experience with the public (not an easy ask) — especially since the very people who read In Trust are the same people these presidents worked with, day in and day out, for years.
Thankfully, Alice Hunt, then-president of Chicago Theological Seminary (and now executive director of the American Academy of Religion), and Richard Mouw, president emeritus of Fuller Theological Seminary, were both up to the challenge. They deftly maneuvered through a potential minefield of questions. Anyone reading with hopes of finding two presidents with an ax to grind was disappointed. Not one board member was tossed under a bus in the writing of this article.
To the contrary, Hunt and Mouw offered priceless advice to board members on how to best support their presidents. Board members, especially new ones, may not fully understand the impact their work can have on the administration of an institution. Hopefully, the insights these two presidents shared here highlight how important board support is for presidents to succeed in their work.
Read their insights at “How to undermine your president.”