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Comfortable, Like Home – Bill Weispfenning

Bill Weispfenning

University of Jamestown has been a lifelong source of pride for me. I was raised in Cooperstown, ND, only 65 miles from Jamestown; my mother’s family was from Jamestown and as a result, I was always aware of University of Jamestown. I am also Presbyterian and learned early that it was the Presbyterians who had the vision and fortitude to plant a college on the North Dakota plains in Jamestown in 1883. This gave me a great deal of stature, I thought, especially with one of my best childhood friends, Jerome.

Jerome was Catholic, and from fifth or sixth grade on, we often spoke of and compared our religions. Jerome was proud to tell me about a brand new university the Catholics were building in Bismarck, and I responded something like, “So? Presbyterians did that 60 – 70 years ago.”

While in high school, I attended a weeklong state student council convention on UJ’s campus. It seemed familiar, comfortable. Years later as a member of the faculty here, I took a religion class one spring semester in a classroom on the third floor of Taber.

Sitting in the 8 a.m. class one blustery winter day and looking out the partially open window that helped offset the extreme heat in the room, my mind went back to the past. I remembered my mother attended Jamestown for a couple of years during World War II. Had she sat in this same classroom, looking out this same window, seeing the same trees and the far hill on the other side of the town? It gave me a warm, comfortable, familiar sense of belonging – like being home.

Bill with the SOS officers.

And now, being part of the Jimmie community for 13 years, it’s the values that make me proud – in a humble sort of way, of course.

Bill with his wife DianeThe University of Jamestown Mission Statement and the Foundational values are: “…a community dedicated to the development of wholeness in our students…academic excellence which balances the ideals of the liberal arts tradition and sound professional preparation…Christian tradition encourages…self-discipline, responsibility, and concern for the continuing growth of the individual” (Mission Statement). And “…embraces the liberal arts and the ongoing search for knowledge and truth as a way of liberating the human spirit and of understanding the world we share with others…promotes education as a means to improve lives, search for vocation, and create lifelong seekers of truth and wisdom” (Foundational Values).

I discovered these values are much more than idealistic words written on posters, in the college catalog, or student handbooks. These values are living things exemplified by the people of the University. Administrators, colleagues on the faculty, staff spread around campus in various positions, and our exceptional students. These values resonate deeply with me, and it has made coming to campus every day a joy! It doesn’t get much better than working where one’s values match those of colleagues and the institution. It gives a sense of familiarity, comfort, of being home.

I am blessed for the wonderful opportunity of a true calling at the University of Jamestown. I treasure the interactions and friendships with all – administration, trustees, faculty, staff, and especially the students. My advice to students is to review your strengths, and determine what values are inherent with you; then, discover your calling that will match those two – strengths and values – and go with passion to improve society and our world!

In the meantime, in my retirement, I’ll miss walking through the peacefulness of this campus, greeting friends – students, faculty, and staff – as we pass. I’ll miss exhorting all the wonderful things about Monday – “TGIM!!” I’ll miss visiting with and advising students. I’ll miss making new friendships every semester. I’ll miss discussions with colleagues – remember “take a break?” But I will be championing the University, grateful to have been a small part of UJ’s story.

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Posted:March 29, 2019


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University of Jamestown at a glance

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Campus Demographics

Placement Rate

1,100 students from 30 states and 20 countries
99%
(Undergraduate 2017)

Student to Faculty Ratio - 12:1

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