Vice President for Mission and Identity Melissa Maxwell-Doherty and University Pastor Scott Maxwell-Doherty will celebrate their twentieth year working in campus ministry at their alma mater, California Lutheran University, in August 2020.
“It’s a role that they really lean into, and they know that they’re kind of serving as mentors for a lot of students in a very critical time, both in their faith identities but also just in life because this is a very pivotal time,” senior Catherine Slabaugh, student worker in the Office of Mission and Identity, said.
Slabaugh, who is a communication and theology and Christian leadership double major, has been involved with campus ministry throughout her four years at Cal Lutheran. Slabaugh said she thinks highly of both Pastor Scott and Melissa’s individual characters and their dedication to the campus as a whole.
Pastor Scott said his role as a University Pastor is broad and is also something that can take many different forms. He described his responsibilities in three levels, first being more tactile—physical service— while the second is on a more professional, administrative ground and the third is offering visibility, or representing the university’s commitment and connection to faith.
“The role is dominated by serving the needs of literally everyone on property, whether that is through a religious lens or non religious lens, but just to care for people and where they are in life,” Pastor Scott said.
Melissa and Pastor Scott graduated from Cal Lutheran just one year apart—Pastor Scott earned his bachelor’s in ‘76, and Melissa completed her undergraduate education one year later in ‘77. Both continued on to earn their master’s degrees in 1981 from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary.
In 2000, the couple was hired onto the Campus Ministry team at Cal Lutheran. After nearly two decades, the couple has moved their way up into their own leadership roles.
Melissa said through the years, her dynamic role has consistently allowed her to engage with different students of various spiritual backgrounds, as well providing support to faculty and staff and striving to give back to the Cal Lutheran community.
After becoming Vice President for Mission and Identity in 2015, Melissa said her responsibilities became more administrative, and her focus shifted to, “things around [Cal Lutheran’s] identity as a university of the Evangelical Lutheran Church and how we live this out in wide vibrant ways.”
Looking back at the past 20 years of service to the Cal Lutheran community in addition to their time as students, Pastor Scott said that he would have never imagined that he would work at his alma mater. Slabaugh, however, said the couple’s return to their alma mater is what makes for the special connection and support they offer to the Cal Lutheran community.
“In the last couple years life has not been easy here, and I think they’ve really risen to the challenge of supporting students and supporting staff and faculty and that’s really admirable,” Slabaugh said. “They are extremely dedicated to this place, and I think they have a special tie in the fact that they went here and it draws them closer.”
Pastor Scott said the day he and Melissa interviewed to work at the university, it wasn’t clear what they would decide, until they had the opportunity to sit with students and discuss what they thought about faith formation at Cal Lutheran.
“The conversation just exploded. I thought: ‘Oh this could be terribly fun.’ And it has been,” Pastor Scott said.
Melissa said the opportunity to work at Cal Lutheran is a lot of responsibility but just as much, it is an honor.
“It’s really something to give back. In a sense I think our whole life is to be a life of giving back and service, wherever we are. It’s really an honor to do that here,” Melissa said. “I mean, the university is in our will. How cool is that?”