A Beautiful Campus

Vanguard University has a rich history of equipping students for a Spirit-empowered life of Christ-centered leadership and service. And much of that happens beyond the classroom.

The things that happen as a professor talks with a student, as a group of students share with each other, these things happen physically somewhere and often on campus. As we approach the renewal of many of our campus spaces, we are being intentional about creating spaces that facilitate the important interactions that occur beyond the classroom.

Our facilities plan includes a significant component that addresses outside spaces, and several of the projects on the drawing board include areas for having a cup of coffee, eating together, and talking, as well as areas for studying and having moments of solitude.

The objective is to create a campus that provides spaces for student life outside the buildings, taking full advantage of our mild climate in beautiful settings. By providing park areas, outdoor courtyards and formal gathering spaces, as well as quiet semi-private areas for studying and reflection, VU can make the most of its spaces. This does not require significant budget, it does require knowledgeable planning and adherence to the plan by the facilities projects, the grounds maintenance team, and the community.

The first step was to establish a coordinated color palette, which has been done. All new facilities and any painting on our existing buildings are done in the new palette, enabling the University to maintain a pleasant environment. And consequently, it saves budget dollars as we can always have the right types and colors of paint on hand to make quick work of any touch up or project.

Additionally we have been working on an outdoor furniture plan to provide comfortable seating in our courtyards and other outdoor areas. The Towers Lobby provided us the opportunity to showcase our new plan elements including several new types of seating and tables. The new lobby also provides covered outdoor space that transitions informal spaces from indoors to outdoors. This approach is planned for additional places on campus in upcoming projects.

We are also focused on our landscaping. We love our Vanguard palm trees, but our spaces also need the beauty of a variety of trees, bushes, and flowers. Providing shade and beautiful vistas and spaces to enhance our lives while outdoors. We want the VU campus to reflect the beauty of God’s creation and to facilitate the best is Southern California living spaces for all of the Vanguard community.

God’s great artistic and redemptive project

Last summer, my daughter Brianne and I took a 5000 mile road trip: Grand Canyon, Santa Fe, Hannibal, Missouri (for the 100th anniversary of Mark Twain’s passing), Chicago…and back again.

The visit to the Grand Canyon set the stage for the rest of the trip. You’ve probably been there. Bri and I began our visit with a fossil hike led by a geologist called Ranger Mike. There on the limestone ground of the south rim, we found dozens of ocean fossils: coral, sponges, clams…Ranger Mike informed us that 250 million years ago this land was covered by what is now the Pacific Ocean, which left these behind when it receded. When the Colorado River, with the help of the shifting of the tectonic plates, carved out this stunning space, it uncovered these fossils…but not just one layer. Six separate layers of ocean fossils are lodged in the canyon limestone, suggesting six different historical epochs during which the ocean covered this land.

The scale and grandeur of the Canyon put our short lives in perspective. I was struck by the artistry of God: infinite patience, exquisite textures, creativity beyond imagination. And this eternal Artist has invited us, tiny ones that we are, to join him as sub-creators, apprentices in His grand creative project.

Bri and I saw this human sub-creativity in Georgia O’Keefe’s Santa Fe paintings inspired by the open spaces of northern New Mexico. We saw it in Marc Chagall’s stained glass “America Windows” at the Art Institute of Chicago and in that city’s extraordinary architecture (like the gothic flying buttresses on top of the Tribune tower). We saw it in Mark Twain’s stories and in the exhibits at the Field Museum.

In spite of the many ways in which we have botched the job and created ugliness instead of beauty, God’s redemptive work continues in us and through us. Whatever our particular calling, we are sub-creators, junior partners, like children who emulate their parents’ projects and experience their parents’ delight and passion.

This, I think, captures something of our journey as Vanguard University professors who integrate faith, learning, and life…We have been called into God’s great artistic and redemptive project. His project has a billion facets, all centered in Christ, and our discipline has taken us deep into one or more of those facets. We join, in our own small way, in that creative project and, in turn, invite our students to join us, equipping them for their lives as sub-creators. What beauty. What grace.