Sailboat Dream

September 10, 1994

It is four something A.M., and this is what I remember of the dream I just had.

Michele and I were on a small sail boat on a lake in - was it? - a foreign country. We were sailing for a while with somewhat favorable winds; really, it was almost a cross wind. We approached an inlet where a river with a swift current was flowing out of the lake. I remember that we were wearing dress clothes, not appropriate for sailing. The boat started to head down the fast-moving river, but I realized that we could not keep following it, though it made the sailing easy! So I beached the small boat on a bank of the river.

We turned it around, and I knew that I would have to tack the small, narrow boat back and forth somewhat against the wind, and against the current of the river for a ways, before we could get back to where we had started. Where was that?

As we started back, it was later in the afternoon than I liked. Was it getting darker, stormier? I did not know whether or for how long we would be able to tack against the winds. Were the winds increasing? Were the waves higher? We had too much luggage with us, a picnic cooler that was too big for the seemingly smaller boat and another piece of luggage, like a suitcase. They had to be left or dumped in the water.

I don't think there were any life jackets. We could both swim but not all that well and not for very long. What if we got water in the boat? There was nothing to bail with.

At that point I woke up, still with the pictures from the dream in my mind and thought immediately about the enrollment of the college and the news I had heard that previous afternoon that we were down and down a lot. The meaning of the dream became clear.

I tried to sleep but the picture of the small sailing boat persisted. It was like one I'd seen some Cuban boat people on, but this one was barely big enough for two. It now seemed more like a kayak with a sail and a rudder. If we were going to get safely to the destination, we needed a motor. Why hadn't I thought of that before? Then I looked back and there was no gunwhale, no place to attach a motor! It was the wrong kind of boat for a motor, and certainly not the right kind of boat for these weather and water conditions.

As I awoke and went downstairs to write down the dream, I was uncertain whether to stay where we were and wait out the storm, wait for more favorable conditions for the kind of boat we had, or to get a different kind of boat, one with a motor and a little bigger.

Tom Johnson, President
Sioux Falls College

Epilogue - May 5, 2006 We got a bigger boat. In 1996 we changed the name of the college to the University of Sioux Falls. The college began to grow. We added masters programs. We became financially solvent. We tore down old buildings and cleared land for development. I left the college in 1997 to work at George Fox University in Oregon.

My successor, Mark Benedetto, has done a fine job, with strong leadership from the University Board of Trustees, in the past nine years building enrollment, new facilities, and programs. When I left we had about 950 students; today there are over 1600.


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