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The End of an Era: Dal Schindell Retires on August 10

August 03, 2012
"The most immediate improvement in my life will be the fact that I no longer have to attend any meetings."

This is the first time most of us have seen the colour of Dal Schindell’s desk. The imminent approach of his retirement—which he’s been tracking all year on a prominent countdown clock on his computer monitor—has prompted Dal’s colleagues to start sorting through the ceiling-high piles of paper that have accumulated around his work station. The piles hold evidence of over thirty years of Regent’s history. The piles do not include the forty-plus boxes that were in storage, which yielded gems such as a complete set of the Regent Bulletin (the College’s earliest newsletter), mock marketing campaigns from the early 2000s (featuring portraits with inflated heads and slogans that shan’t be repeated in this article), and a pink flamingo with broken legs.

Perhaps the biggest loss to Regent when Dal retires on August 10, aside from a steady supply of wry humour, will be his corporate memory—Dal was there from the very beginning. Dal Schindell graduated from the second-ever Regent College class in 1972. Despite moving to the UK from 1973 to 1977 to pursue graduate work in painting on a Canada Council grant, he and his wife Kit (a fellow Regent student) stayed connected to the school. “In those early days, many Regent graduates moved to the UK to pursue doctorates, and the alumni events David Baker and I organized would attract over thirty alumni and family!“

But Dal’s most potent memory from those early days was helping to renovate the frat houses that Regent moved into in 1975. At the time, Regent was operating from the basement of the Vancouver School of Theology. Then the College bought two fraternity houses on Wesbrook Mall. “The frat boys were not happy that the fraternity houses had been sold by their leadership. So they tried to destroy the buildings. They broke walls, smashed windows, ripped everything up. So all of us guys who were home from the UK for the summer volunteered to work on this building. And it needed a lot of work! But it got done, and Regent had two frat houses side by side. It was an exciting time.”

In 1977, Dal and Kit returned to Vancouver, and Dal taught painting at a number of colleges and universities throughout the Lower Mainland. Then in the spring of 1979, he became the alumni rep for the College’s academic journal, Crux, and soon took over as its art editor. “I was pulled in to design the magazine and help make sure that its look was always concerned with aesthetics, unlike the usual academic journal.” The exhibition Covering Crux, held in the Lookout Gallery in May 2012, showcased all of the covers of the journal that Dal designed since 1979. Many of them feature his original artwork. You can watch a video interview with Dal Schindell about the exhibition on the Lookout Gallery page.

That same summer of 1979, Dal was approached by then-principal Carl Armerding and faculty member Ward Gasque to join the Regent staff. “They asked me to take over publications and marketing—to shape the look of the school.“ Shaping the look of the school, in the role of Director of Publications, has been Dal’s chief preoccupation ever since. By 1980, he was also teaching and coordinating the arts-related courses at Regent, which became the Christianity and the Arts concentration within the Master of Christian Studies. He has been an advisor to hundreds of Regent students on their integrative projects in the arts and theology (IPIAT) and guided studies. When the new building went up in 1988, to replace the frat houses that were now bursting at the seams, Dal worked with Laurel Gasque on creating a space for an art gallery, and has been its director since 1989.

When asked about his plans for retirement, he is unabashedly direct: “The most immediate improvement in my life will be the fact that I no longer have to attend any meetings.” But most importantly, his long-term plan is to seriously engage his painting again. “My biggest fear since my stroke in 2006 is that this may be very difficult. I’m left-handed, and the entire left side of my body went dead. Getting that control back will be a challenge.” But it’s a challenge that certainly won’t deter Dal. “Painting is not a hobby for me, but has always been a life-and-death struggle to say something meaningful. It’s what all of us should be doing, whether in words or songs or film or visual art. We should all be struggling with the truth and communicating the important things.”

Dal Schindell’s last day in the office—which is becoming more and more bare by the minute—will be Friday, August 10. He will be back this fall to co-teach The Vocation of the Artist with Iwan Russell-Jones. So you may still see him around. Because as we know, no one ever truly retires from Regent.

About Regent College

Regent College is an evangelical, international graduate school of Christian studies based in Vancouver, and affiliated with the University of British Columbia, Canada’s third largest university. Regent College is a theological graduate school—a place of academic rigour, cultural engagement, and vibrant faith that transforms intellect, imagination, and character. Here, people from around the world are inspired and enriched with a deep and practical Christian faith extending into all spheres of life and enabling them to live more thoughtfully in varied vocations in the church and the world.

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