A Humble Follower of Christ

October 26, 2010 by  
Filed under Nilson Award Winners, Recent MMMs


Susan Siaw,
Psychology,
Cal Poly Pomona
2009-2010 Nilson Award

[Oct 31, 2010] —
A humble follower of Christ. A powerful influence on a secular university campus.

That is others’ opinion of Susan Siaw,Professor of Developmental Psychology at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona. She is the 2009-2010 winner of the Nilson Award, which is given annually to an outstanding Christian professor.

Here is what Cheryl Lee, a former Faculty Commons staff member, wrote about Susan:

“I first met Susan Siaw about 14 years ago, when we started a faculty/staff group on her campus. Susan began organizing the group to print ads in the campus newspaper identifying professors and staff as Christians. She helped organize luncheons for visiting speakers. After hearing Mary Poplin speak at a regional conference, she invited Mary to speak at Cal Poly Pomona as an evangelistic outreach for faculty, staff, and students.

“Susan has continued to lead the weekly Christian Faculty Forum on campus. Sometimes the focus is prayer; sometimes there is a discussion of a book or video series. The purpose of the forum is to equip professors and staff and to encourage community.

“Susan promotes community with students as well. She invited students to have dinner with her before a Campus Crusade event so they could discuss spiritual issues. When she learned that her university was sponsoring a lunchtime study of The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins she invited several other Christian professors to attend with her. As a result, they were able to dialogue with other professors about some of the weaknesses in Dawkins’ arguments, and give a face to Christianity among their colleagues.

“Susan demonstrates how a humble follower of Christ can have a powerful influence on a secular university campus. She has steadfastly declined the title of president or chairperson of the faculty forum, yet she has faithfully and effectively fulfilled that role at Cal Poly Pomona for many years.”

This kind of humble service for Christ is at the heart of our ministry, and it was for Erick Nilson as well. He was a member of the Department of Agronomy at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas, for more than 24 years before his retirement in 1989.

In the middle 1980s Christian Leadership Ministries (now Faculty Commons) approached Erick to consider beginning a faculty-staff ministry at Kansas State. Erick prayerfully considered the opportunity and agreed to take leadership.

Despite a relatively large number of Christian faculty and staff at the university, the idea of beginning a Christian faculty-staff ministry was not greeted warmly by all. In the early days there was actually quite a bit of opposition on all fronts.

Despite the discouragement Erick decided never to give up—when nearly everybody else thought it was a bad idea to start the ministry, Erick concluded that God plus one was a majority. Indeed, he did begin the faculty-staff ministry there and served as its first president the year before his retirement.

In 1990, following Erick’s Home-going, his family set aside funds for our ministry to recognize “the men and women of God that He is raising up to forward His cause at the university.” The award has been made annually since 1990 and the award winners have been truly outstanding examples of what it means to be a Christian professor.

[Previous Nilson Award Recipients ]

2009 Nilson Award Recipient

furman-editjpgPresented by
Rae Mellichamp and John Walkup

[Sept 21,2009] –

The 2009 Erik Nilson Award, presented to an outstanding Christian professor, has been given to Buff Furman, Professor of Mechanical Engineering at San Jose State University.

I (John) met Buff Furman in 2000, shortly after Pat and I arrived back in northern California to direct Faculty Commons’ ministries at the San Francisco Bay Area campuses. I was immediately impressed with his desire to impact the faculty, staff and students on the San Jose State campus for Christ.

The Love of Christ

Buff and his wife Wanda demonstrate the love of Jesus Christ for others. He has a strong testimony for our Lord’s love and grace to all those around him.   Moreover, Buff has the leadership skills to which his faculty colleagues have responded during his seven years leading the faculty/staff ministry at SJSU.

Whenever I attend one of their weekly meetings, I am impressed with the obvious respect that both the faculty and staff show for his leadership.  This carries over to his family life; watching them, together with their young daughter, Joy, one sees a genuine picture of Christian marriage and family life.

Buff and Wanda have participated in seven of our national conferences.  Because of their participation and urging, other San Jose State professors have also attended various Faculty Commons conferences.  At SJSU he has organized and led the use of the PBS “Question of God” series comparing the lives and philosophies of C.S. Lewis and Sigmund Freud.

Buff is one of the most Spirit-led Christian professors we have known. He consistently demonstrates his faith in Christ through his upbeat, encouraging demeanor, the gracious way in which he reaches out to other faculty, to university staff and to his students.

Encouraging Each Of Us

Would you join us in congratulating this outstanding representative of the cause of Christ in the academy?  If you know him please consider sending an email or giving him a phone call  to recognize his exemplary service.  His example can encourage each of us to make a difference for Jesus through our teaching and research, and through our individual and corporate witness on the campus.

About the Nilson Award

Dr. Erick Nilson was a member of the Department of Agronomy at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas for more than 24 years.  During his tenure at KSU he and his wife Fern took on faculty sponsorship of Campus Crusade for Christ, a relatively new ministry to the campus in the 1960s, opening their home to the students on a regular basis.

Then in the mid-1980s Campus Crusade asked Erick to consider beginning a faculty-staff ministry at Kansas State. Erick prayerfully considered the opportunity and agreed to take leadership.

Despite a relatively large number of Christian faculty and staff at the university, the idea of beginning a Christian faculty-staff ministry was not greeted warmly by all. In the early days there was actually quite a bit of opposition on all fronts. Despite the discouragement, Erick never gave up.

When nearly everybody else thought it was a bad idea to start the ministry, Erick concluded that God plus one was a majority. Indeed, he did begin the faculty-staff ministry there and served as its first president the year before his retirement.

In 1990, following Erick’s home-going, his family set aside funds for our ministry to recognize “the men and women of God that He is raising up to forward His cause at the university.”  The award has been made annually since 1990 and the award winners have been truly outstanding examples of what it means to be a Christian professor. Previous award winners are listed at www.facultylinc.com.

© 2009   Joseph McRae Mellichamp, John Walkup