Dear Extended Perkins Community,
This final issue of Perspective Online for 2022 might be called a ‘farewell edition,’ with goodbyes from three members of the Perkins faculty and staff: Dean Craig C. Hill, Associate Dean Margot Perez-Greene and me. After more than 10 years as Director, and then Executive Director, of the Office of Public Affairs and Alumni/ae Relations at Perkins School of Theology, I am taking early retirement from SMU. My final day is Dec. 14.
Leaving Perkins is bittersweet for me. For 42 years—and even more than that, if you count the profound influence of pastors and interns who served my home church in Dimmitt, Texas—Perkins has been a significant part of my life. The knowledge I acquired here as a student from 1980-84 from professors including Joseph Allen, W.J.A. Power, Phyllis Bird, Victor Paul Furnish, Charles Wood and others has sustained me in my ministries with local congregations, annual conferences, general agencies and in other settings. The friendships that were forged during those formative years are still among the closest and most cherished of my life.
As I write this farewell, and glance through my Kirby Hall office windows, I see Martin Hall, where I lived for the two years preceding my internship; beloved and iconic Perkins Chapel, where just last week another annual Advent Service was held; in the courtyard below, there’s the fountain that never worked during my four years at Perkins, but which now flows faithfully.
All of this is to say: Perkins has been a deep presence and influence not simply this past decade, but for most of my life. A sacred place without which I would not be me. And, although I am leaving the employment of Perkins and SMU to spend more time with my granddaughters and their parents in the UK and my youngest daughter in Atlanta, I am taking all of my Perkins chapters with me into my ‘next.’ Perkins will always be a part of me.
It has been my joy and privilege to work closely with two outstanding Deans: Bill Lawrence and Craig Hill, each of whom brought their own distinct gifts and have left their own unique marks on Perkins. I am grateful for the continued friendship of both.
The Office of Public Affairs and Alumni/ae Relations has undergone a smooth transition of leadership, with new Director, Matt Jacob—who previously served as Associate Director in the office before his five-year tenure as Director of Communications for the North Texas Annual Conference—at the helm. Rachel Holmes, my right-hand woman and assistant extraordinaire, will continue in that position and with that knowledge, I am certain that the office is in the best of hands.
It has been a joy during this decade at Perkins to connect (and reconnect) with alumni/ae across the globe, to tell the Perkins story, to develop meaningful relationships with students, staff and faculty, and to attempt to give back even a portion of what Perkins has given to me.
Thanks be to God for Perkins School of Theology, for all who have passed through these halls and for those yet to come. For those of us who love Perkins, it will always be a part of who we are.
Rev. Connie L. Nelson (M.Th. ’84)
Office of Public Affairs and Alumni/ae Relations
Perkins School of Theology