By Bethany Erb
On May 11, 2017, Robert Cushman Jr, Ph.D., was formally inaugurated as the new president of Pacific Union College. As the 23rd president of Pacific Union College, Cushman brings a spirit of transparency, energy, and change along with his 26 years of expertise in navigating the Adventist educational system. The formal inauguration service focused on the solemnity of such a shift in leadership, as PUC department and administrative leaders participated in showing PUC’s support and recognition of Cushman’s continued influence on PUC’s academic and spiritual trajectory.
In further support of the occasion, PUC’s accomplished resident conductor and professor in the music department, Asher Raboy, directed the world premiere of his choral arrangement entitled “Blessed Are the Pure of Heart” from “The Beatitudes,” Performed by PUC’s Vox Pro Musica and Brass Quintet, it was received with resounding applause.
Ronald Carter, Ph.D., as provost of Loma Linda University, gave a poignant address on how Cushman’s unique credentials fitted him for his new role as PUC’s president. Carter spoke on how Cushman’s academic expertise in paleontology gave him a unique toolbox of skills and personality traits with which to impact our campus. As he stated, Cushman is already accomplished at “working meticulously, peering through sophisticated microscopes to pull together a view of the entire ecosystem,” and it is this ability to project the macro-reality from a micro-sample that will contribute to Cushman’s ability to competently lead at PUC.
Tongue-in-cheek, Carter ignored Academic Dean Nancy Lecourt’s admonishment to “not tell stories.” With a smile, he shared how Cushman, as an undergraduate under Carter’s mentorship, devised a makeshift technique using cardboard pieces to compensate for a technological malfunction before an important presentation. “Robert never threw me under the bus,” Carter reminisced, as he shared how, though he was to blame, Cushman displayed a kindness and congeniality throughout the incident. “The incident showed Dr. Cushman’s ability to maintain an equilibrium between professional flexibility and individual warmth,” said Carter, using the story to assure PUC students and staff of Cushman’s abilities, administratively and relationally.
After a presentation of the presidential medallion, Cushman addressed the expectant crowd. Initially speaking off the cuff, Cushman emphasized his gratitude for such a welcoming community and his excitement at what lies ahead for PUC. Quiet and resolute, Cushman shared his hope of PUC continuing in its legacy of academic excellence and spiritual depth. After a responsive reading with the audience, he left the stage to hearty applause and well-wishes from students, faculty, alumni, and community members alike. A brief reception followed the ceremony.