Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Heartfelt Tribute to A Dear Friend

A Heartfelt Tribute to a Dear Friend*

I first met Dr. Douglas Huffman, affectionately known to students as Dr. Doug, more than twenty years ago. During my second year of work toward a PhD at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (TEDS), he came to campus to work toward a second master's degree in preparation for entering the TEDS PhD program. As I recall, it was at an early autumn picnic for both current and prospective PhD students that we met. He was eager to learn from us who were already in the program, and, as has always been my practice, I was happy to share advice and offer encouragement to Doug and other prospective PhD students concerning how to navigate one’s way through the maze of academic hurdles.

After I had the privilege of joining the faculty of Northwestern College in 1992, Doug's alma mater and his place of employment before moving to Chicago to work toward the PhD degree, it was my great pleasure to provide some measure of influence so that two years later we could welcome Dr. Doug as a faculty colleague in the Biblical & Theological Studies Department. Our friendship has only deepened since we have become faculty colleagues.

Several qualities about Dr. Doug have not only significantly enhanced the academic and spiritual strength of the department and each member in it but the whole college and all who come into contact with him: (1) his intellectual acumen; (2) his spiritual maturity: (3) his amiable adaptability to fill a variety of roles at the college as an administrator and professor; (4) his eagerness, shared mutually by his wife, Deb, to welcome all, but especially students, to their home for fun, fellowship, movies, and parties; (5) his wise counsel that provides needed temperate perspective upon knotty dilemmas and situations; (6) his incisive adeptness to summarize alternative viewpoints and to lead others to adopt a course through an impasse; (7) his winsome teaching ability whether in the classroom, hallway, or in private conversation; (8) his reassuring competence to lead others unobtrusively, without grasping for power, and without seeking credit for ideas he plants for others to nurture; (9) his filling, not simply occupying, the various roles to which he is appointed, and (10) the godly grace with which he conducts himself in everything he does.

These, and many more qualities are precisely what attracted the Department of Biblical & Theological Studies at Biola University earlier to extend a call to Dr. Doug seven years ago to fill the role that he has now accepted and will fill beginning in January 2011. For several years we were able to forestall Dr. Doug’s departure from Northwestern College. Instead of moving to Biola he accepted appointment to the Chair of the B&TS Department. Since then, Dr. Doug’s service to and experiences have only developed his character, grace, and leadership and enriched Northwestern College. We who have known him best have come to expect, with apprehension, the day that has now revealed itself, when leaders of another institution would recognize Dr. Doug’s extraordinary qualities and call him away from us to serve elsewhere.

So, several years after Dr. Doug was first called to his new role, Biola University has finally prevailed upon him to accept the position, attracting a superb colleague, a longtime friend, and an excellent teacher away from Northwestern College. Northwestern College's great loss will surely be Biola University's enormous gain.

Congratulations, Dr. Doug & Deb! You will be immensely missed and forever remembered. Congratulations, Biola University! You will be welcoming “a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith” (Acts 11:24). This passage that aptly describes him is a portion of the inscription on a commendation plaque that the NWC B&TS Department gave to Dr. Doug when he graciously vacated his role as Chair of the department in the spring of 2008.

Godspeed to Dr. Doug and Deb! Godspeed to both Biola University and Northwestern College!
—Dr. Ardel B. Caneday
Professor of New Testament Studies
& Biblical Theology
Northwestern College
*This piece is published in The Column, the Northwestern College student newspaper.

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