By Jenny Collins ’05
Only one person on campus today has been an eyewitness to the last 40 years. Barb Lindman, Ph.D., now senior academic dean, was one of the original 11 faculty members when the college reopened in 1972.
As a young graduate of Bethel College and the University of Minnesota with degrees in psychology and physical education, Lindman’s path to NWC was purely practical. “After I graduated, I realized I needed a job of some kind.”
Through a friend, she heard about two teaching positions—a part-time physical education position at Northwestern and another at Minnehaha Academy.
“The only thing I really knew about Northwestern was its association with Billy Graham,” she said. Preferring to teach older students, she chose Northwestern. (Interestingly, Lindman’s sister, Mary Carlson, took the Minnehaha position and both have stayed with their respective organizations for 40 years.)
Lindman also picked up another part-time gig in the records office. She recalls through laughter the humble beginnings of that first fall on campus. “School was going to start in a few weeks. I walked into the records office and they hadn’t even thought about how students might register or how that would work.”
She had no plans to stay at Northwestern long. “I thought, ‘Well, I’ll stay here until I find a real job,’” she said with dry wit and her signature laugh.
From Alaska to athletics to academic builder
Raised in the mountains of Alaska by a pastor and church planter, Lindman has scaled several mountainous projects through her roles during four decades at Northwestern, including faculty member (where she created the physical education major), women’s athletics coach, education department chair, dean of instructional programs, associate provost, interim provost, Higher Learning Commission (HLC) liaison, and more.
“Her value to Northwestern College is difficult to determine simply because it is so great,” said Janet Sommers, Ph.D., senior vice president for Academic Affairs. “Dr. Lindman not only knows our institution, in many ways she helped build it.”
According to Sommers, Lindman continues to provide “the administrative infrastructure necessary for academic excellence to thrive.” And added, “Her no-nonsense, yet gracious approach to issues has proven successful as she steered through the muddy waters of assessment planning, Core Curriculum revisions, academic calendar reviews, capital budgets, and HLC ten-year accreditation processes, to name a few.”
Sommers continued, “She has approached each responsibility with a high level of competence, determination, and perseverance, matched only by an effervescent sense of humor which makes even the dullest or most challenging tasks more manageable.”
Those same qualities helped Lindman overcome a personal mountain in 2006 when she was diagnosed with cancer. “You know intuitively in the community of faith that we support each other. But until you experience that—you see how people show Christ to you. Everyone was praying for me.”
Northwestern’s Christ-centered community and its mission won over Lindman’s heart—and her entire career, which she affirms isn’t over yet. “I can see myself associated with Northwestern College in some capacity for many years to come.”