Dr. Harry Fernhout, president of The King’s University College in Edmonton, Alberta, gives us a look into his life in our latest in a series featuring college presidents. Get to know him a little better—after all, you are what you read. But do it soon, as King’s is in the middle of their presidential search to find his replacement when he retires!
Q. Are there any that have particularly influenced your life or work?
A. Here’s a little biblio-biography: Books like Herman Dooyeweerd’s In the Twilight of Western Thought (Paideia Press)and L. Kalsbeek’s Contours of a Christian Philosophy (Edwin Mellen) were very influential during my student days. I was privileged to be around the Institute for Christian Studies in Toronto when books like Brian J. Walsh and J. Richard Middleton’s The Transforming Vision (IVP Academic) and Albert M. Wolters’s Creation Regained (Eerdmans) were written and published. As a graduate student in education at a secular university I was greatly aided by books like Thomas H. Groome’s Christian Religious Education: Sharing our Vision and Story (Jossey-Bass) and Parker Palmer’s To Know as We Are Known (HarperOne). Books like John P. Kotter’s Leading Change (Harvard Business Review) and Max De Pree’s Leadership Is An Art (Crown Business) provided inspiration when I assumed an institutional leadership role. Nicholas Wolterstorff’s Educating for Shalom (Eerdmans), Cornelius Plantinga Jr’s Engaging God’s World (Eerdmans), and James K. A. Smith’s Desiring the Kingdom (Baker Academic) have helped shaped my understanding of shalom as the animating vision and calling of Christian higher education.
Q. What are you reading now or hoping to read soon?
A.Shalom and the Community of Creation: An Indigenous Vision, by Randy Woodley (Eerdmans); Thriving in Leadership, edited by Karen Longman (Abilene Christian University); Cultivating the Spirit: How College Can Enhance Students’ Inner Lives by Alexander S. Astin, Helen S. Astin, and Jennifer A. Lindholm (Jossey-Bass); Heron River by Hugh Cook (Mosaic Press) . . . and anything related to retirement planning!
Q. Do you prefer to read paper or digital books? Which do you do most often?
A. I’ve made a significant transition to digital material for meetings, but not with regard to books.
Q. What is on your iPod or in your CD player right now?
I recently downloaded all our CDs to an iPad. (Is that even legal?) [Editor’s note: Yes, Dr. Fernhout, your arrest is not imminent.] It’s an eclectic collection, ranging from classical to gospel to international Christian music. When I was a kid my mother loved her Dutch records and her LPs of Tennessee Ernie Ford singing hymns. I recently found a collection of Tennessee Ernie Ford hymns on iTunes. Nostalgia reigns!
Q. If you could only have three albums for the rest of your life, what would they be?
A. Songbird by Eva Cassidy; Handel’s organ concertos; and, of course, The Voice of My Prayer by The King’s University College choirs!
Q. Are there any songs that especially call you to worship?
A. In Christ Alone by Stuart Townend
Q. Do you have any favorite movies that have stuck with you long after watching them?
A. The King’s Speech (Weinstein)
Away from Her(Lions Gate)
Q. It's evening, you're home alone, and you just want to sit in front of the TV for a while. What will you watch?
A. New, sports. Mostly news, since the start of the NHL lockout.
Q. Are there movies or shows that people keep telling you to watch that you just aren’t interested in?
A. My granddaughters tell me there are great shows on the Food Network.
Q. What websites do you find valuable for your work?
A. I use a wide variety of websites. Bible Gateway is a great site for looking up and comparing Scripture passages. (I was recently asked to read Ecclesiastes 3 in chapel from a 300-year-old Dutch Bible. The script was impossible to decipher. Imagine the joy of finding that old version online in a legible script!)
Q. What sites do you find yourself wasting lots of time on?
A. Wasting time? What’s that?
Q. Are there any podcasts that make your running/walking/odd jobs much more fun?
A. CBC radio is my companion when I doing odd jobs around the house.