Pastor Robert Rohm and other members of the administrative team didn’t find out Dr. William Brown was stepping down as president of Cedarville University until 9 a.m. the Monday he announced it, Rohm said.
He said the Q&A chapel at 10 a.m. that day was a little awkward just because he had things going through his mind, and he didn’t know how Dr. Brown was feeling.
But he said the two didn’t put certain questions – such as the one about whether Rohm ever has to fake it and just use Christianese in chapel – in at the last minute to make the announcement sound easier.
Q: Can you talk about your and Dr. Brown’s relationship?
Rohm: Well, he’s a good friend, a really good friend. We don’t go bowling together at night, that kind of stuff like that. You know, we don’t hang out together in the evenings. We have been known to go on long hikes in Montana mountains and stuff like that together and just talk and that kind of thing. But I consider him to be an incredibly Godly, encouraging friend that I feel like I’m better off for having known him, and I appreciate him a lot, love him a lot.
Q: What are some ways you are better off from having known Dr. Brown?
Rohm: Dr. Brown is the kind of person who models what he says. He’s not one to say one thing and live another. For example, he’s the kind of individual that believes the best about people even if the worst is proven. And I just, I find that amazing. Critical words don’t come out of his mouth. That’s just not the way he is. And whenever you’re in leadership roles, that could easily occur, but that’s not the way he operates. So his example to me is an encouraging example of what it looks like to be Christ-like, basically.
Q: In what ways has he affected you from his position as president of Cedarville?
Rohm: He doesn’t have a big ego, and I really appreciate that because people in a significant leadership role often times have big egos. For example, in my opinion, a person couldn’t run and be president of the United States without an ego. I mean, you know, when you consider all that they go through. But Dr. Brown doesn’t have an ego, at least not that I’ve observed anyway. He’s humble.
Q: What are some of your favorite memories from working with Dr. Brown over these past 10 years?
Rohm: Well, his humor. He’s naturally humorous. Some people have to try and manufacture it, and he doesn’t. And where these things come from, I don’t know. I mean, he can just off the top of his head put out one of these things, and it’s just, oh my word. I’ve said to a couple people, ‘It makes me sick. I wish I could do that,’ you know. But I love his humor, and it’s never humor that puts down people. If it does, it’s self-effacing. He puts himself down.
Q: How has Dr. Brown handled some of the difficult situations Cedarville has had to deal with?
Rohm: Well, he doesn’t get all rattled. Again, that’s not his style. He allows people to do their job. He’s not standing by again micromanaging, looking over people’s shoulders. And if there’s blame to be had, he’ll take it. He’s not a very defensive-type person. And again there’s a graciousness about him that when difficult times come kind of allows other people to relax a little bit, too, and I think as a result we do the job better because we’re not in a panic ourselves so much. So again, it’s more of a leadership by modeling those characteristics.
Q: Can you talk about your reaction when you heard Dr. Brown was stepping down?
Rohm: Well, again, he’s a good friend, and so I hurt for a friend. And I didn’t have all the answers. I didn’t know all the processing that went into it. You probably saw some of the comments that Dr. Brown put that he and Lynne had prayed about this and so forth like that. And so I had all the confidence in the world that it was the right thing because it’s something he had prayerfully considered. And one of the things I know and love about Dr. Brown is it’s the kind of decisions like that that he makes always are in the best interest of Cedarville. He felt that the timing was such, this is in the best interest of Cedarville, for whatever his reasons were, and I don’t know what those were. I was surprised and hurt a little bit just because I enjoy working with him.
Q: You mentioned Dr. Brown believes this is the right step for Cedarville. Can you comment on that a little more?
Rohm: Again, I don’t have facts, and that makes it difficult to explain. I do believe in the sovereignty of God, and I believe that God’s in control, and I believe that God led Dr. Brown and his wife Lynne in this decision. And, you know, I could wish it were different, but it is what it is. And I’m grateful he’ll be around another year as chancellor so even though he won’t be on campus a lot – he’ll be doing a lot of fundraising and speaking and stuff like that – he’ll still be around some, and that’ll be cool.