In many ways, Dr. Edwin Robinson’s return to Northwest Nazarene University to assume the position of the director of leadership studies and servant leadership at NNU’s Wesley Center feels a lot like coming home. Robinson graduated from NNC in 1973 with a degree in religious education. He and his wife, Nancy, then headed to Nazarene Theological Seminary (NTS) where Ed began working on his master’s degree.
“Besides returning to my alma mater and a very familiar place, for Nancy and me, it was a chance to make new friends as well,” he commented. In fact, Robinson now finds himself working alongside some of his former NTS students. Many of his new colleagues are connected to him through mutual friends.
Prior to NNU, Robinson served six years as president of MidAmerica Nazarene University in a time of transition and economic challenge. During his tenure he crafted a five-year strategic plan for the university and led in the revision of the university’s mission that incorporated servant leadership.
Previously, Robinson spent 19 years as a faculty member at NTS where he taught Christian education, youth ministry, congregational development, as well as leadership and administration.
Robinson’s responsibilities at NNU are a culmination of his prior experience—building on his expertise in servant leadership while incorporating it into the NNU experience. His charge holds three main functions: implementing service learning into the undergraduate curriculum; documenting a student’s completion of that leadership; and finally, developing a new graduate degree in leadership development and/or organizational leadership in the years to come.
The term ‘servant leadership’ was coined in 1970 when Robert K. Greenleaf published an essay titled “The Servant as a Leader.” In the essay, he states that servant leadership is not about a certain style or technique; it’s not a theory as much as it is about the heart and disposition of the leader. The leader sees him or herself as a servant first.
Robinson added, “The most advanced forms of leadership development through service learning are really discipline specific.” Students serve others by using their skills to provide a sustainable impact while achieving educational learning outcomes within their academic major.
One of the best examples of servant learning is currently being enacted by NNU’s engineering department. Students have partnered with Extreme Nazarene in Peru to help them develop a way to produce foam blocks on site to build churches (Fastblocks). For a layman crew, using Fastblocks in construction is faster, easier, safer and more cost effective. The resulting structure is also stronger because the blocks are lighter and able to accommodate steel reinforcements.
“One of my favorite things is being involved with students on a daily basis. The opportunity to be with students every day and participate in class has been a real joy,” Robinson expressed. A portion of Robinson’s responsibilities put him back in the classroom teaching Introduction to Biblical Studies and the Life and Teachings of Jesus, which gives him the opportunity to connect with students while developing servant-leadership curriculum.
Welcome home Dr. Robinson. NNU is grateful to have you here.