In September 2007, Music professor Kathryn Proctor-Duax thought that she was going to San Antonio for a year so that she could help take care of her elderly mother.
Recently retired from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire (UWEC), Kathryn accepted an offer from a fellow professor to fill a position on the faculty at University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). And Dr. Duax did teach UTSA music students and help take care of her mother.
But it turns out that God had a much greater purpose for her year in San Antonio. He sent her there to launch a faculty ministry at UTSA.
Uniquely Qualified for the Job
Kathryn was uniquely qualified for the job.
For years, she had served in a leadership role for the well-established Christian faculty group at UWEC.
She had worked with Cru staff in planning the student and faculty outreaches at UWEC.
She had attended Faculty Commons’ National Faculty Leadership Conferences, where she was equipped for spiritual leadership on her campus.
The Faculty Commons staff team in south Texas, Don Davis and Dave and Karen Ness, were eager to start a faculty ministry at UTSA. They already had the names of 25-30 Christian professors there.
They Just Needed a Faculty Leader
What they lacked was a leader on the faculty who could launch the group. Then they met Kathryn.
Kathryn emailed the Christian professors on the Faculty Commons list to invite them to an initial planning meeting. 10 professors came, and agreed to meet every 2 weeks.
They spent the fall semester studying a classic “how-to” manual for faculty ministry written by Christian prof Dr. Rae Mellichamp, called Ministering in the Secular University.
By December, the group had grown, and 16 faculty attended a Christmas party at Kathryn’s apartment. They went through the application process to be recognized as an official group at UTSA, a big advantage on any university campus.
But God wasn’t finished yet.
Working Together with Campus Ministry
Back at UWEC, the faculty ministry had always worked in conjunction with Cru’s student ministry on the campus. So Kathryn got to know the Cru staff at UTSA, too.
They introduced her to a key player: one of the university vice-presidents, who was also a Christian. He knew of another Christian on the UTSA staff who had started a Bible study.
“We should get all the Christians together,” the VP said.
Now students, staff and faculty were all working together to have an impact for Christ at UTSA.
To organize this new, larger group, they planned a dinner for April 10th. Kathryn went to the Cru weekly meeting and spoke to the group, asking the students for names of professors who they thought might be Christians.
They gave her 26 additional names, and she e-mailed them all with an invitation to the dinner.
On April 10th, 50 people came to the dinner. The Cru students helped serve the meal and the Cru student band provided the entertainment. The group prayed together for the faculty, staff, and students at UTSA.
And they organized a steering committee to provide leadership.
No Longer Isolated Islands
Now, instead of feeling like isolated islands of faith in a generally hostile commuter campus environment, the Christians at UTSA know they are part of a group that is working together to bring Jesus’ message of hope and forgiveness to their colleagues.
“I feel like we have a real community now,” one said.
Together, the UTSA Christians can have a big impact on their campus. Their goal this fall is to raise their visibility through a Web site and an ad in the student paper listing the names of the Christian faculty and staff members.
San Antonio area churches are running ads about the group to their congregations.
Don Davis and the Nesses will continue to serve as resources to the group as they work toward Faculty Commons’ goal: that every student at UTSA will know a professor who truly follows Jesus.
Kathryn Duax is back in Wisconsin this fall, but she feels like the biblical Queen Esther, who was given a strategic position at a strategic time to accomplish a work that God wanted to do.
Looking back over her year at UTSA, she says, “We had to trust God. And He never disappointed me. He blew me away, in fact. He prepared me and supported me all the way through.”