Gordon College Welcomes Dr. Nicholas Rowe to Student Life

Gordon College is pleased to welcome Dr. Nicholas Rowe as dean of student engagement. Dr. Rowe will focus on enhancing student leadership development and co-curricular learning. He will oversee campus activities (including the Gordon College Student Association and Campus Events Council), the Office of Community Engagement and International Student Services, while collaborating with the Multicultural Initiatives Office.

For the past decade, Dr. Rowe has served in South Africa at St. Augustine College, where he led the development of the undergraduate program—itself a notable feat, but even more so within the country’s historical context. “Even 20 years after the fall of apartheid,” he says, “there’s such a massive backlog for access to education, which is seen as the chief way to escape poverty for a lot of students.” He taught in the graduate education program and, on one significant occasion, stepped in as interim president.

Widely experienced in conflict resolution and reconciliation, Dr. Rowe helped establish the College’s peacebuilding and peace studies program and spent considerable time consulting organizations that, in his words, “are still trying to work out how to coexist after 1994.” He and his wife, Sheila, also co-founded Rebecca’s Well, an NGO focused on women’s empowerment.  Sheila continued to grow the organization throughout their time in South Africa.

“After several months of re-envisioning the mission and organizational structure of Student Life,” says vice president for student life Jennifer Jukanovich, “it is my honor to welcome Dr. Nick Rowe to the team. Nick brings an incredible array of gifts and scholarship that will help our team provide a campus climate of opportunity, leadership development and integrated learning experiences for a student body that is increasingly diverse and global.”

Dr. Rowe is no stranger to Gordon. In the early 2000s, he served on the Student Life staff as the inaugural director of the New City Scholars (now Clarendon Scholars) Program. From 2002 to 2005, he was both special assistant to the president for diversity issues and adjunct and associate professor of history.

In January of this year, he returned to Gordon as an adjunct in sociology and social work, teaching a course on conflict resolution and reconciliation for the peace and conflict studies minor. A trained historian of the Atlantic world, he will continue to teach history and peace studies, including a course in African history this fall, alongside his Student Life responsibilities.

For Dr. Rowe, it all swirls together—his scholarly interests, passion for reconciliation and care for individual persons within the context of community. “You need the past in order to anchor your personhood,” he says.

His interest in community redevelopment and leadership development centers on two critical values: respect for inherent human dignity and upholding the common good. He sums it up in a concept he brought back from Africa: a Zulu proverb, Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu (or Ubuntu for short), meaning a person is a person because of other persons. “This is one of the closest articulations to the scriptural idea of what personhood is,” he says.

“I’m excited to come here and think about it now in a Western context and to put some legs and feet on it in a very different way, working primarily with students,” he says. “A lot of human formation happens outside the classroom, and that’s what Student Life is about.”

The Rowes have two children, Jonathan and Alexia. Born in the U.K., Dr. Rowe is a devoted follower of the Arsenal Football Club and enjoys fishing, biking and traveling.

nick rowe family

Top photo courtesy of St. Augustine College