This spring, Dr. Kevin McMahan, Northwestern’s associate dean for intercultural Ddevelopment, is retiring after 15 years of faithful service. During Dr. McMahan’s time at NW, he has been enrolling and supporting international students, whether that be going through student applications, assisting with financial aid, providing advice on entering the country and adjusting to the culture and helping students find systems of support once they have arrived through host families, other staff and the larger NW community.
Over the years, Dr. McMahan has also had the opportunity to teach several classes at NW including Intro to American Culture, Intercultural Communication in BTS and other intercultural and diversity related classes. He has also served many years on NW’s Multi-Ethnic Resource Committee, now known as the Diversity Resource Committee.
One of Dr. McMahan’s fondest memories was the formation of the campus club La Mosaic. He remembers two students, Christian Butler and Angelic Perez, stepping up as leaders to create the club out of a desire to assist in making NW a “better multicultural community.” La Mosaic started gathering in the leaky basement of Noteboom Cottage and Dr. McMahan has been able to watch it grow and flourish into what it is today.
An additional high of Dr. McMahan’s career was working with Rahn Franklin who served as the Director of Strategic Diversity Initiatives for many years. Together, the two built the multicultural program into what it is today. Particularly, Dr. McMahan and Franklin established the motto and purpose of the department: Building Belonging and Dignifying Difference to the Glory of God.
“We believe it and try to advocate it here,” Dr. McMahan explains. “But that’s been challenging because the dominant culture tends to see diversity as mostly a matter of cultural assimilation, not understanding or embracing well that we all have a culture and God’s vision is Beloved Community amidst those differences”
Dr. McMahan’s heart for diversity and students is particularly clear by the testimonies of those that he has touched.
“Dr. McMahan will truly be missed,” states sophomore Linsy Gonzalez Marcelo. “He always asked questions along with giving insight on different perspectives with giving others the opportunity to share their thoughts as well.”
Junior Sierra Tumbleson had the opportunity to live with Dr. McMahan and his wife Lynne this past summer.
“They welcomed me into their house with open arms and made me feel at home,” she said. “They are two of the great people I have ever met and Orange City/NW will not be the same without them!”
Martha Draayer, NW’s Director of Intercultural Development, was one of Dr. McMahan’s close colleagues.
“I greatly admire Dr. McMahan’s servant heart. Dr. McMahan lays down his agenda to ensure everyone’s voice is heard. I have observed how he places himself last in order to elevate those around him who need to be heard, recognized or empowered.”
Dr. McMahan and Lynne will be moving back to Seattle where they resided before their time in Orange City. During his retirement, Dr. McMahan looks forward to being about to focus on “facilitating respectful conversations,” by “calling people from different cultures, identities, communities and convictions together to work at how well we can be ‘different together,’ getting to know each other and bridging those differences with care and respect.”
As for NW, Dr. McMahan hopes that the multicultural program and spirit at NW will continue to grow and be embraced by its faculty, staff and students.
“I long for NW to be all that it can be as an explicitly intercultural community that seeks to see, interact with and learn from the Imago Dei among us all,” Dr. McMahan explained. “I believe that is God’s redeeming work in the world.”