Extension Ministry: Rev. Dr. Jeff Godwin, College Professor

By Barry Steiner Ball

Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Godwin is an ordained elder serving as an extension minister as a professor of Business Management at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, PA.  Jeff comes from a long line of ordained persons serving the West Virginia Annual Conference: Jeff’s father, Charles; sister, Sharon; brother, Greg; and niece, Lauren.  Even though Jeff was a son of a Methodist pastor, he was able to grow up in Buckhannon, WV (1st grade though High School) while his father was pastor of First UMC for 12 years.  Jeff credits his parents for his strong faith, belief in the importance in education and work ethic.  Jeff remembers that while he was growing up, no topic of discussion was off limits at the dinner table.  The family was free to debate, think outside the box, and discuss all types of issues, which was very important for Jeff’s development in accepting folks with different opinions than his own.  At Buckhannon-Upshur High School, Jeff participated in football, wrestling, and track.  He attended The College of William and Mary on a full athletic scholarship, where he lettered in varsity football and varsity track.  He graduated in 1981 with a Bachelor’s of Business Administration degree.

With a brand-new diploma in hand, Jeff returned home to Bluefield, where Jeff’s father was Pastor of Bland Street UMC (they moved from Buckhannon when Jeff was a freshman in college). He took one more summer and managed the Bluefield Country Club pool.  In the Fall of 1981, Jeff accepted a job with United States Steel Mining which included spending six months underground as a coal miner. He got his miner’s card through this process.  Because of the recession of the early 1980’s, he found himself unemployed by February 1982.  At this point, Jeff moved back to Buckhannon to help his family by providing day care for his nephew, Adam and niece, Lindsey.  During this time in Buckhannon, Jeff met his future wife, Diane, a senior at West Virginia Wesleyan. Diane was headed to Philadelphia upon graduation.  Jeff followed Diane to Philadelphia and secured a job as a Bond Underwriter with U.S.F. & G, Corporation.  In October 1983, Jeff and Diane were married and began a life-long journey together.  That same month, Jeff was transferred to U.S.F. & G’s home office in Baltimore. He and Diane both felt their lives should head in a different direction. 

Jeff started to feel God’s call on his life.  Diane wanted to return to school and earn a nursing degree.  They both felt God’s direction to quit their jobs and return to school. In the Fall of 1984, Jeff enrolled at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC.  Diane entered the nursing program at American University.  By the grace of God, Jeff was able to locate a part time job close to the seminary as a bond underwriter, a job that utilized his prior training and experience and would last for the five years they were in the Washington, DC area.  In addition to his seminary classes and his part-time work as an underwriter, in the Fall of 1986, Jeff received a student appointment that came with a parsonage in Falls Church, VA.  After graduating from American University with a B.S.R.N. degree, Diane took a job as a nurse at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, DC.  Diane and Jeff welcomed the arrival of their first child, Ryan, on July 4th, 1988. The next year, June 1989, they moved back to WV.  Jeff was appointed to serve the Masontown UMC in Preston County.  While in Masontown, a new baby girl, Susie, arrived 1992.  In addition, during his five years at Masontown UMC, Jeff completed a Master of Business Administration degree at WVU.  Jeff was feeling a call to possibly do church administration work or teach on the faculty of a church-related college.

Not quite sure where God was leading, Jeff, Diane and two children left Masontown to enter a PhD program focusing on organizational behavior at Virginia Tech.  While working on his doctorate, Jeff had various work experiences, including as a research assistant, Hospice Chaplain, teaching, and youth pastor.  In 1995, the family grew with the addition their third child, a new daughter named Emily.  With a PhD. added to his résumé, the family moved back to Buckhannon, where Jeff was offered a position on the faculty of West Virginia Wesleyan College.  In addition to his teaching role, he assumed the duties of Chairperson of the Business Department.  Jeff’s children grew up in the same town that he had been raised. Life was good.  Jeff had found his specific calling of teaching at the collegiate level.

In 2008, Jeff and Diane visited with a friend who taught at Saint Vincent College (SVC) in Latrobe, PA.  One conversation led to another, which then led to an interview. Before long Jeff was offered a position on the faculty at SVC.  He accepted and began in the Fall of 2010. However, not wanting to move his family from Buckhannon while Emily was still in High School, Jeff commuted to Saint Vincent College.  The planned three years of commuting, for various reasons, turned into eight.  Jeff stayed active in the Buckhannon community.  For example, he was the assistant girls’ track coach in 2013 when his daughter, Emily, was a senior in high school.  During this time, Diane was the school nurse at Buckhannon-Upshur High School, a position she would hold until 2018.  Jeff and Diane were active members of First UMC in Buckhannon. Finally, in January 2019, with the children graduated from college and married, Diane and Jeff relocated to the Greensburg/Latrobe area close to Saint Vincent College.

Jeff currently teaches classes in Organizational Behavior and in Business Policy & Strategy.  His research and publication interests primarily have been in Transformational Leadership, Servant Leadership, Self-leadership, Gratitude in Organizations, and Goal Setting – and all of this from the perspective of an ordained United Methodist minister in a Catholic, Benedictine liberal arts college.  Jeff states that he enjoys tying together the threads of business education, leadership development, and Christian faith.  In a regular school year, Jeff will teach and build relationships with 80 to 100 students. In addition, he is the Chairperson of the Business Department at SVC.  This, Jeff believes, is exactly the work to which God has called him.

How can we pray for Jeff in his work at Saint Vincent College?

Please pray: For him and all teachers during this time of the Covid pandemic; That all education can soon return to normal; and for the healing and health of all students, faculty, and staff.

What to know more:

https://www.stvincent.edu/        Saint Vincent College

https://www.iedunote.com/organizational-behavior           What is Organizational Behavior?

https://www.wvwc.edu/                  West Virginia Wesleyan College