UTS Cornerstone - A Newsletter for the UTS Alumni Association - March 2005
President's Letter: Core Values: Family
By Tyler Hendricks
Greetings from Barrytown to our UTS family and friends around the world.
In last month's letter I launched a discussion of UTS core values. These values provide an insight into what we believe really matters. A group of faculty and staff got together about three years ago and did an exercise to come up with these. They are:
1. Living for others
4. Mature Faith
5. Respect for Diversity
Core values are to be put into everyday practice. They inform our vision. They guide our strategies. They are something unique to every organization, because they come from within the organization. They work better if not imported.
Last month I discussed, respect for diversity, and this month I want to discuss number two, family. I will begin with some observations about our larger Unificationist community. This will provide a context for the selection of family as a core value of UTS. In practice, Unificationists have not attempted a thoroughgoing family-based ethic. In fact, the movement is oriented more to the individual than the family. The price of joining the movement, for most people, was separation from their family. Members have been expected to separate from spouse and children for extended periods of time. They are expected to work long hours, and time spent with the family, especially when mission presses, is frowned upon. The movement does not address tough questions in this arena, such as the merits of having both parents work, day care, educational policy, taxation, and so forth.
This Unificationist denial of family is providential and hence temporary. Father and Mother Moon's offering of their own family life is understood as necessary indemnity. But the ideal path for members is to follow their example and I believe that the core Unificationist pro-family teachings are there in the Founder's family. Father Moon's youngest son, Hyung Jin, recently published a book in which he stated that indeed, he had very little communication with his father as he grew up. But, to his surprise, once he became proactive in the relationship, he found that his father was warm and wonderful to talk to. He talks of his parents watching videos together with brothers and sisters invited into the family room, people they didn't even know personally. In terms of provision for their children's educational and material needs, Father and Mother Moon certainly outshine me. And the two lovebirds are together almost all the time. They even re-affirmed their wedding vows, as grandparents! That's a model I admire.
Now, how did UTS come up with "family" as a core value? Our community exercise to come up with core values employed a voting method. The entire group threw values up on the white board. We had dozens up there. Then each person was given six round stickers, and we all voted for our favorite values by using the stickers. If a person really liked one value above all, s/he could place all six stickers by that one. On the other extreme, we could place one sticker by each of our six favorite values. Then we counted up which values got the most votes. And one of the winners was "family".
How have we tried to put this value into practice? Let's look at a few ways:
We do not require, as many if not most schools and businesses do, that employees cover the cost of a family health insurance policy.
We donate one room to the community teenagers. We believe that our second-generation appreciate a space for their own community building because of a high-school world that is challenging in ways we adults do not realize. And when they spill out of that room into the dining room to chat and do their homework all afternoon, we allow it (as long as they clean up after themselves).
We believe it is fine for employees to spend evenings with their family. We believe that a fresh employee has enhanced overall productivity. We also encourage the use of vacation time. Just as evenings for family and church activities benefit the school, a couple of weeks a year (more, according to years of service) away from the desk strengthens the employee and the institution. Certainly our Founder gets amazing things accomplished while fishing, and he often fishes with his wife and children. For some, it is fishing, for others, golf, soccer, hiking or swimming. Visiting extended family at a distance is also a very valuable use of vacation time, as is devoting time to spiritual exercises.
When employees are away, they can gain a fresh perspective on their job and the school's mission. This brings innovation; it builds relationships with new circles of friends and family. We need give-and-take with the larger society, and there's only one way to get it: go there. Be a part of it.
Also, studies prove the traditional wisdom that family matters. When we have a healthy marriage and home life, we do better at work. We perform at higher capacity. Our spirit is brighter and our focus is sharper. Students love to see staff families; they love to see staff and their spouses at functions. It creates a warm atmosphere. My wife often gathers staff wives for lunch at our home. She started a monthly tradition of having the three staff families that live on the north end of the campus worship, eat and share testimonies together once a month. As Academic Dean, Dr. and Mrs. Mickler hosted all the graduating seniors for a barbeque at their home. This is family. We have neglected the UTS tradition of staff family picnics at least once a year, but we will start again. We have a staff Christmas party annually.
Another manifestation of the core value of family is that we now welcome students to bring their families here. Massena House, as a matter of fact, contains several related families of the Moon clan. There is a warm and wonderful atmosphere there. I believe that this is a very positive sign for the future of UTS. The Founder has in the past encouraged us to live with three families together in one house. And yes, there are families from Cameroon , Russia , Latvia and Japan also in that house.
This is a partial accounting of the ways in which we at UTS practice our core value of family. We know we need to do more in this area.
We welcome new families into our community!
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