Returning rewards

For the Rev. Michael Caley, his connection to Huntington University has spanned several different roles from being a student to sending his own children to the school and then to serving as a member of the Board of Trustees. Each role offered its own special rewards.

For most college freshmen, making an initial visit to a school can be a frightening time. Caley never felt that fear since he grew up in Huntington only about five blocks from the university and attended College Park Church. Of course in those days, it was still a college, but his decision to choose Huntington was an easy one.

"I was very familiar with Huntington College, all along," Caley said. "I pretty much decided about halfway through my high school experience that I was headed for the ministry, and I just knew that (was) where I wanted to go."

There is a real difference, however, between selecting a school and falling in love with it. For Caley, his feelings for the school continued to grow and it had as much to do with the people as with anything he learned in class.

"I remember really enjoying the overall atmosphere on campus. But beyond just the classroom, I think the personality and heart and commitment of the professors and staff was something that I grew up with and I found it to be as genuine on campus as what I had experienced even before getting to Huntington."

Caley graduated with his degree in Bible and religion in 1978 and immediately started in with the School of Ministry. When he completed that course of study in 1980, the rest of his life story might easily have taken him away from Huntington. Instead, God brought him back when it came time for his children to choose a college.

His four oldest children - Erinn '03, Jonathan "Amos" '05, Emily '07 and Sarah '10 - all attended and graduated from the university. He said when it was time for them to decide where to continue their education, they saw the same qualities in the school he had loved years earlier.

Now, as a pastor of his own church in Michigan, Caley continues to encourage high school students to consider Huntington University. He finds it very gratifying that his church gives above and beyond the Church Matching Fund to help students attend Huntington.

Now Caley is giving back to the school with his time, as well. Initially, he served on the President's Advisory Council for Excellence (PACE), and about five years ago, he was asked to serve as a trustee. Just recently, he was re-elected to another four-year term on the Board of Trustees.

He is also involved with the recent capital campaign to raise funds for a variety of projects around the campus and for the students. Some of the funds will go to a renovation of Becker Hall and an expansion of the Merillat Complex for Physical Education and Recreation. Not as easily seen, but perhaps even more important, some of the funds will be used to increase the current endowment fund and while others will go to the University Fund which provides scholarships to students.

For Caley, there has never been a question why he believes so strongly in Huntington University. But he was reminded recently how unique the school is when a digital media arts faculty member said that some big-budget film animators were envious of the facilities and equipment at Huntington University.

"They couldn't believe that a small Christian college would commit that kind of quality to a program for their undergraduate majors," Caley said. "That is what impresses me and continues my involvement with Huntington University. The goal for excellence doesn't necessarily mean that we are going to spend the highest amount of dollars but just a conscious decision to do the best that we can in each area with the resources that God provides."