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The rockstar president

A snapshot of President Lowell Haines’ day

By Justin Chapman | Echo

President Paul Lowell Haines, the 31st president of Taylor, has more on his plate than some may realize, but hopes to make more time for playing music (photo by Justin Chapman).

President Paul Lowell Haines, the 31st president of Taylor, has more on his plate than some may realize, but hopes to make more time for playing music (photo by Justin Chapman).

Early mornings are President Lowell Haines’ friend—5:30 a.m. to be exact. Mornings hold the few moments of calmness before a packed day.

Recently, Haines hasn’t had time for nutritious breakfasts. This may be because he has completed his first year as president while simultaneously completing his doctorate degree. Since he has been on the go, a breakfast bar and some juice have been the best he can manage.

On the few mornings he can afford the luxury, he loves to cook breakfast—anything from waffles to eggs. “I grew up with a southern mom; she was from Florida, and she could cook,” Haines said. “So she made sure all her boys could cook. I’m not at all uncomfortable in the kitchen.”

Every day after breakfast, Haines takes time to write. Now that he’s finished his doctorate, he can focus his energy on more personal topics. As he sits in his enclosed home office, he typically writes about thought-provoking subjects as well as for the Taylor magazine and special mailings.

Lowell usually drives to his office, located on the top floor of the admissions building, around 8:30 or 9 a.m. to begin working on other tasks. The rest of his day consists of meetings with different personnel and administration.

However, this particular Friday was Grandparents Day. Haines led devotions from the chapel stage at 8:30 a.m. as about 150 grandparents sat straight-backed in the soft lighting. He and his wife, Sherry, shook hands and shared laughs with grandparents who meandered over after the event. Haines chatted with longtime friend Jay Kesler, putting a friendly hand on his shoulder.

No day is ever the same for Lowell. He has regular meetings each week, but other meetings fluctuate each day. For instance, his preparation for chapel addresses entails his secretaries transforming notes into PowerPoints.

His job is relentless; once one task is finished, he moves on to the next one.

“It’s a lot of work,” Haines said. “Seriously, when Commencement comes, I’m probably going to just drop out of sight for a week. Just go stare at the wall or something, turn on some music real loud and just zone out.”

Haines never sought out Taylor’s presidency: he was content with his job at Faegre Baker Daniels law firm in Indianapolis, and retirement was in the near future. Once he looked at his resume and saw his credentials, he realized they were a perfect fit for a Taylor president.

“I love doing this,” Haines said. “I love Taylor. So it’s not like I have a hard time selling this place. It sells itself. For me, Taylor’s kind of like selling a Lexus or Mercedes: it’s a great school. You don’t have to do a lot of sales to sell a Lexus or Mercedes.”

Haines said one day he came across a picture of him and former President Milo Rediger. This was not just any photograph; it depicted Rediger handing Haines his diploma when he graduated. Now Haines stands on the other side of that handshake.

For students, Friday nights are often a time to unwind from a week of classes; however, Haines cannot afford to spend Friday nights strumming his guitar. He must prepare for the next meeting, speech or reception. When Haines has down time, he loves playing guitar in his secluded, quiet living room, which holds some of his acoustic guitars—a few of the many he owns.

Around a month ago, he turned in his final doctorate paper for the University of Pennsylvania. After submitting it, he pulled the guitar off his office wall and started playing—the first time he’s played in his Taylor office.

According to Haines, Taylor’s student body might see the rockstar himself playing guitar on stage next year. He said that he longs to perform with a few of the chapel bands. In Haines’ mind, playing guitar is equal to therapy.

He would even like to start hosting home concerts. Haines wants the president’s house to function as more than just a glorified conference room, but also as a place to listen to talented musicians.

Now that he nearly has his first year of presidency under his belt, Haines is ready for the second year. He is in awe of the opportunity he has to lead the school he loves dearly and has poured much of his heart into.

Haines cannot avoid a packed schedule during his presidency. With the doctorate checked off his list, he now has time to focus fully on being the president of Taylor.

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