Mark Strom has been the principal of Laidlaw College for nearly five years now. When I was there from 1999 – 2001 it was the Bible College of New Zealand. His five year contract is up for renewal in January 2010, and he has indicated that he will stay on until September 2010 at which time he will take his study leave, ending his time as principal.
From Laidlaw’s press release a couple of days ago:
“During his term as Principal, Mark has undertaken a recalibration of Laidlaw College, retaining its strong biblical focus, while moving towards training students not only for mission and pastoral work, but also for engagement with society at all levels”, says National Governing Council Chair Graham Burt. “Mark has inspired staff and students alike towards this goal. We greatly appreciate his contribution.”
Mark’s time in office has seen some big changes for the college, and all for the better. First was the re-branding and re-naming of the college, taking the name of Robert Laidlaw (a worthy New Zealand name if ever there was one). Secondly however, during Mark’s time the college has made a turn towards a more robust vision of Christian scholarship. While papers and courses in biblical studies, theology, church history and missions have obviously continued, major developments have beenmade in the school of counselling, and very positive noises have been made about branching into the humanities, offering more a of a Christian liberal arts education than before. Not all of this has come to fruition yet, but Rome wasn’t built in a day, and it is the change in direction that is really encouraging to see. It is the directive for a Christian higher education that stimulates “engagement with society at all levels” that the press release refers to that has been particularly exciting to me. There was already potential for more than the college was offering before Mark came along. What he’s done is realise a good chunk of that potential and then help built a great deal more potential yet.
I’ll be keeping a very interested eye on developments on the Henderson campus to see what unfolds in 2010 for Laidlaw College, but I have no doubts at all that it has been improved by Mark’s vision and work there.