Elle Perrin, ‘18
Dr. David Vader, Director Emeritus of the Collaboratory, spent 20 years at the helm of the organization. Vader stepped down as Director at the end of the spring semester and resumed a full-time teaching workload this fall. His vision of God’s kingdom coming to Earth has shaped the lives of students, supporters, and Collaboratory partners all around the world.
Vader joined the Messiah College faculty in the 1990s. He says, “I had everything I needed to be happy according to the American dream. I had a good job and was making good money alongside the support of a great family and church community. But I began asking myself the stewardship question, ‘What was I doing to serve the kingdom?’ And that’s when God brought me to Messiah, where I found kindred spirits to work with.”
Vader and others began dreaming of the Collaboratory in the 1990’s. The group’s vision was two-fold: to create an atmosphere for students to apply knowledge they were learning in the classroom and to Collaborate to serve others. An exploratory trip was made to West Africa in 1996 to gauge the possibility of working in the region. The trip laid the foundation for the Collaboratory’s partnership with Serving in Missions (SIM), the first of many clients.
Initially, students and faculty from the engineering department came together with a shared desire for service and stewardship. “Students can make a difference in the kingdom through using their academic gifts and applying their team building skills in a very practical way,” Vader explains.
The Collaboratory expanded beyond the engineering department and now has about 60 professionals and more than 200 students involved, representing about 15 majors. We partner with about 30 clients in numerous countries.
There have been many successes, as well as hardships, in Collaboratory history. Vader states, “The biggest challenge is that nothing like the Collaboratory had ever been done before, which is also a highlight. There was a huge learning curve for me and the institution, but it changed Messiah College positively in so many ways. There has been so much compassion and support from other departments and organizations in the College.” Interdisciplinary membership and support is critical to the organization’s success.
In addition to professional development, the organization promotes spiritual growth. Vader says, “I have grown a great appreciation for how we can help our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ that are suffering in a practical way and partnering with other Christians from other places to raise awareness.”
Vader made a significant impact on the Collaboratory by deeply caring about the work he does, the students he works with and the people he serves. He continues working with the organization as the manager of two projects. Although his role has changed, he remains committed to the Collaboratory’s vision.