Every other month we get an update on what’s been happening recently at our
Immanuel Lutheran High School, College and Seminary in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
If I had to go out on a limb, I would venture to say that this is the type of article Professor Paul Sullivan does not like to see about himself. I think I was asked to write it because my office was across the hall from his for twenty years. Over that time, I have learned a lot from him and about him, but I still feel I have only scratched the surface, only peeled back the outermost layer.
Paul has an interesting educational background.
In addition to attending Christian primary and secondary schools in the United States, he was a 5th grader in Berlin, Germany, and a high school sophomore and junior in two different schools in Alsace, France. In college he pursued art for a time, but ended up graduating from Northwestern-Watertown with a degree in pre-theology. He completed his seminary training at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in Mequon.
After college, Paul served in the military for two years, one on a base in Kentucky, and the other in Long Binh, Vietnam, during the war there.
Sixteen years in the ministry.
He then served sixteen years in the pastoral ministry. He married his wife, Jan, in 1974, and their family soon began to grow.
Paul then left the public ministry and took a job at Dayco Eastman in Manitowoc, Wisconsin. At this fluid conductor company, he filled many positions—including production worker, manager, supervisor, and quality assurance coordinator. His family joined the CLC’s Luther Memorial Church in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, during this time.
Paul returned to the full-time public ministry when he accepted the call to teach at ILC in 1997. In his time at ILC he has taught in all three departments: high school, college, and seminary. The subject areas he taught were quite varied, including English, church history, psychology, religion, and art. He also taught introductory French and German language classes. He was an engaging chapel speaker and oversaw the school’s literary magazine.
The role that perhaps defined his time at ILC the most, however, was that of Dean of Students; arguably the least coveted job on campus. It requires time, empathy, Christian maturity, equanimity, patience, an evangelical spirit, love, and often a thicker skin than most possess. More than once, while peering through his office window unnoticed, I saw a man deep in prayer, or nodding off in exhaustion. That is the nature of the work. When asked about his thoughts on his work as dean he replied, “Dear Lord, bless my efforts and forgive my failures.”
First to volunteer
In spite of his long days and many responsibilities, he was often the first to volunteer to help others, both colleagues and students alike. He arrived early and stayed late. He willingly volunteered many weekends to fill pulpits for CLC pastors. He is a voracious reader and learner, always willing to try new teaching approaches and technology. He is rumored to have jumped on student desks while giving a lecture, and I personally witnessed him do a front handspring to the delight of my physical education class. He would take time to pick up a carelessly discarded candy wrapper.
But what stands out to me the most about him is his knowledge and understanding of Scriptures, the ability to locate the precise passage at the appropriate moment. It does not surprise me that the one interest he plans to keep pursuing into retirement is the study of God’s Word.
Many thanks to our gracious God for blessing ILC with this faithful servant over these many years. You will be missed, friend.
Joe Lau is a professor at Immanuel Lutheran College in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.