Avondale’s vice-chancellor announces retirement

Professor Ray Roennfeldt’s advice: “Trust God and your team.”

Avondale University College has begun the search for a new vice-chancellor following Professor Ray Roennfeldt’s announcement of his retirement after 11 years in the role.

He shared the news with colleagues during a staff meeting on Monday (November 4). (A link to the job description for the vice-chancellor role is at the end of this article)

Professor Roennfeldt said building a team that achieved great things, including status as an Australian university college, is his best work as president and now vice-chancellor of Avondale. “I hope that’s my legacy” he said.

His advice for his successor: “trust God and your team.”

This pastoral approach to leadership formed most strongly in Papua New Guinea, where Professor Roennfeldt and wife Carmel served for eight years. “Working in a cross-cultural context . . . forced me to reflect deeply on the differences between people and how to work with those differences,” he said.

Of the four characteristics Professor Roennfeldt said he would bring to the presidency, three—affirmation, consultation and facilitation—are people-centric. “I wish, though, I had more time for visioning rather than dealing with the mundane.”

Professor Roennfeldt said at the time of his appointment that his capacity for ministry and leadership “is dependent on my being a person of genuine openness and ethical integrity”. That has proved true: he has, perhaps, been at his best when advocating for the equality of women in ministry and in challenging his Church to put “basic human compassion” above policy.

A paraphrase of a verse from the biblical book of Philippians is not only a good summary of Professor Roennfeldt’s leadership but of Avondale’s future in the higher education sector. “By no means do we count ourselves experts in all of this, but we’ve got our eye on the goal, where God is beckoning us onward. . . . We’re off and running, and we’re not turning back” (Philippians 3:12-14, The Message).


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