The Rainmakers

Two alums, five degrees, and countless lives changed by Roger and Dr. Linda Alexander’s investment in MNU.  

By Sarah A. Moser

It’s uncommon for spouses to work together. It’s even rarer still for them to work together at the place they first met and attended school. But for Roger and Dr. Linda Alexander, it’s a way of life.

Since 2006, Roger (’82) has served as Director of Major Gifts at MidAmerica Nazarene University. His role in the University Advancement office includes helping friends of the university share the vision, understand the needs, and join in supporting students, professors, and administration through lifetime giving and estate planning.   

And Linda (’84) came on board in 1993. At the time, she worked as a project thesis advisor and curriculum advisor in the MHR program. She continued this work for 14 years while raising their three boys. In 2004, after receiving her doctorate, she turned her focus to teaching teachers. Linda is the Director of Career and Workforce Development along with being a professor in the Teacher Education program. She also serves as a grant writer who has brought in more than $18 million for the university and as the Director of Continuing Education and Concurrent Credit.  

“First and foremost, I love being able to fulfill my call at MNU,” says Linda. “I fully expected to go back to the public-school arena, but I heard from the Lord that He wanted me to do something different.” 

Strong ties and a love for helping college students brought the Alexanders back to MNU after 17 and 15 years away, respectively.  

On studying at MNU: 
Roger was attending Nall Avenue Church of the Nazarene when he first learned about MNU. He transferred from Johnson County Community College to MNU and joined the football team. For the next two years, he juggled sports, his studies, and working many hours at a local bank. And then he met Linda during his junior year and her freshman year. The two married the summer before her senior year. 

Though Roger initially took a job at a bank after graduation, one of his MNU professors recommended him for a job at the Nazarene Headquarters, working with wills, trusts, and estate planning. He followed his prof’s advice. For the next 17 years, he soaked up everything he could learn about philanthropy before leaving to work in a similar role at The Salvation Army. While a great job, it required loads of travel. In 2006, a role opened at MNU in the University Advancement office, a place where he could use his fundraising and estate-planning skills to further the mission of MNU—all while remaining in a ministry-based organization. The lighter travel schedule was a bonus. 

After Linda graduated with a secondary education degree, she taught at a local junior high and high school for the next four years. When their first child came along, she stepped away for a bit. “But I’m a lifelong learner,” she says, referring to how she continued to take classes, chipping away at her Master’s, then doctorate—all while raising three young boys. 
On staying connected to your alma mater: 
Though Roger had worked elsewhere for 24 years, he maintained strong ties with MNU. Most notably, he finished his MBA at MNU alongside Jon North (’92) and Tim Keeton (94). The three would eventually work together in the University Advancement office at MNU, where relationship-building is central to all they do.  

Roger and Linda also stayed in touch by attending MNU events as time permitted. 

On returning as an employee/faculty member:
“Coming back to work where I attended was enlightening,” says Linda. “Working here allows me to understand more fully how the organization works. Things make more sense as you look at them through a different lens.”

But Linda cautions that taking a job at your alma mater won’t be the same as when you attended here as a student. “God is continually working His mission out and it’s going to look different over the years,” says Linda. “You can’t recapture what you had. But if you join the staff or faculty because you are invested in moving your alma mater forward and continuing in the mission God has laid forth, that’s good.”

Those around her can see that Linda is very much interested in continuing God’s mission in her life and in the life of the university. “She serves the Lord faithfully in every role to which He calls her,” says Dr. Nancy Damron, vice president for academic affairs, and chief academic officer. “Dr. Alexander identifies needs, seeks to understand context, and then collaboratively seeks solutions and develops new programs. Through her office, we’ve seen programming grow exponentially and our partnerships more than double. Grant monies to support programming at MNU are in the millions, all because of her leadership and God working through her. Dr. Alexander’s work is Christ-centered, student-focused, innovative, and inspiring to her colleagues. We are blessed she spends her time and talent at MNU.”

Roger says stepping back on campus in an official capacity felt refreshing. “I knew it was a tough time at MNU and tough in the U.S., economically, and I was coming into an environment where fundraising was more important than ever. My prior work was with major gifts and estate planning. For 24 years, I did this elsewhere, so I was very comfortable in this world.”

Roger is a natural at his job, which is more like a mission, says Jon North, Vice President for University Advancement. “When I think about the core of who he is, he’s never met a stranger,” says North. “Roger can walk up to anyone and start a genuine connection. He has a brilliant steel trap of a mind. Combine that with his experience dealing with complex estate issues, and he’s just an incredible resource for MNU.”

Both Roger and Linda see many MNU students whose parents and grandparents they know. “There are some tremendously successful people who have attended MNU,” Roger says. “I see those kids I went to school with now being grandparents and giving back to the school; that’s rewarding. Our numbers may be small, but MNU alumni are mighty.”

On sharing Christ through your work:
First and foremost, Linda loves being able to fulfill her calling to help college students to become the people they are meant to be. She also loves being able to share her faith. For example, she recently fell and broke her wrist and had surgery twice this winter; she also lost her father and a grandchild; and Roger is working through some health issues. “I love that I can be authentic with my students,” she says. “They need to see that we all have struggles. But that doesn’t mean God has turned His back on us and we haven’t turned our back on Him. They may think we professors have it all together. We don’t; we are just doing what God has called us to do.”

Linda’s life teaches as much as her lectures. Her colleague, Dr. Neil Friesland says, “Linda’s model as a Christian servant is her biggest contribution to MNU,” says Friesland, a Professor of Special Education. “Her care and empathy toward students and colleagues show the love of Christ. Her academic and professional contribution make MNU a better place, but it’s her relationships with students that makes the Teacher Education program one of the best in the state!”

For Roger, seeing the students grow in their faith is what draws him to university work. “Students come in wide-eyed, energetic, and driven,” he says. “College is a place of discovery and direction in a Christ-centered environment. Not everyone who comes to MNU has a faith background; they come from different starting points. So, we try to encourage their faith discovery. God has a plan for them.”

Roger and Linda consider their roles at MNU their mission. That is evident to all around them, including North, who has known Linda since he was born and Roger since Roger’s college days. 

“For both of them, it really comes down to their deep belief in what MNU does to transform a student’s life,” says North, vice president for university advancement at MNU. “Everything they do is about trying to see individual people and what God can do in their lives and what they mean in the Kingdom. Sometimes you hear the phrase ‘the power of presence’; for Roger and Linda, that’s what it is. Living life together.”

The Alexanders are always available for students and alumni as well as donors with a smile, an encouragement, a challenge, even a kind correction. And one of Roger’s favorites, of course: helping students make connections. 

“You have four years here,” Roger says. “Get to know people. You might learn about a job, a career, summer help needed, internships, or anything to help you in your next phase of life. College is four years of opportunity. Don’t waste them.”



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