ANDERSON — News of James Edward's impending departure as president of Anderson University reached students in the way you might expect in this highly interactive and connected age.
The message that he plans to step down at the end of the 2014-15 academic year was delivered to students via email.
Still, the news came as a shock and surprise to students as they gathered for chapel at Reardon Auditorium last week.
"I was surprised that he is resigning because he is a really great guy," said Paige Stayton, a 20-year-old sophomore, while waiting for chapel to begin on Thursday.
Students who have actually had encounters with Edwards during their college career at AU used terms like "down-to-earth and approachable" in describing their experiences with him.
Stayton said she's worked as a caterer for Chartwells Dining Services and has served Edwards and his wife, Deanna, at a number of university events and has always found him to be both pleasant and approachable.
"You can tell he cares about students and the life on campus, and making sure that people feel comfortable. It's just nice to know that faculty members care when you go to a university," Stayton added. "He just really wants not only the students to feel involved on campus and feel that they're important, but the faculty as well."
Freshman Mylynn Allen said she hasn't yet had the opportunity to meet Edwards personally, but has been impressed with chapel events where he was the featured speaker. "I thought he was a great speaker and very loving towards the school," she said.
Like Allen, fellow freshman Andre Collins hasn't yet met Edwards in person. "When I heard he was going to retire I was just, like, shocked," he said.
"I got the email, he sent out and I was kind of like, hmm, OK. Really? You're going to retire?" said Joe Jurney, who also hasn't had much personal interaction with Edwards and was not aware that when he steps down 2015, Edwards will have been president of AU for 25 years.