In Loving Memory of the Reverend Dr. Thomas Nelson Green
Posted October 18, 2019
By Mandana Nakhai, Ph.D.
Dean, School of Humanities and Honors, and Distinguished Professor of English at Concordia College New York
As we mourn the death of the Reverend Dr. Thomas Nelson Green, we are grateful for his life and service guided by his profound faith and reverence for humane values.
In his many years at Concordia College New York, he served in various teaching and administrative positions, including Dean of Students and Chair of the English Department. He was my mentor, colleague, and friend since my debut at the College thirty-two years ago. He continued to be a source of inspiration for me even after he retired from Concordia.
Dedicated to the highest standards of excellence, he taught me about what mattered most in the classroom: Connecting with students in a meaningful way and engaging them in their spiritual, intellectual, and social development. His wisdom, high expectations, and kindness elicited great admiration from our community.
He vehemently argued that caring and knowing about our students are as critical as the sophisticated technology that graces our contemporary classrooms. Educating the whole student is what mattered most to him—mind, body, and spirit. And for that, he prescribed a strong dose of love—often referring to the Apostle Paul’s complex description of the purest form of love for others in God’s all-encompassing love for humanity.
From Chaucer to Milton, his courses were rigorous but enticing. He had an amazing talent in bringing out the best in our students. When he was not in the classroom, he was counseling students in his office, listening to their voices and responding to their emotional and intellectual needs. Frequently, he invited students to his house to share a meal. He cared deeply about fostering a diverse community of students and encouraging connections among them.
Last year around this time, our alumni visited their alma mater to celebrate Dean Green, and to participate in the fund-raising event for the Reverend Dr. Thomas Nelson Green Endowed Chair in Humanities. We shared stories about how his ministry and teaching profoundly impacted our lives. These stories are now chronicled in our hearts—a tribute to his unique character.
This is his legacy. We miss his giving spirit, his kindness, and wisdom. The last time we met before I visited him at the hospital, we had a deep conversation about the emerging role of the humanities as we re-imagine higher education. In his soft, gentle voice, he reminded me that we had to keep up with the times, “but we must never forget about our past”—the College’s liberal arts tradition and its Christian heritage that welcomes a diverse community of learning. Reflecting on Dean Green’s words, I thought, “This is what sets us apart—our Concordia—what makes us distinctive.” We are grateful for the distinctive presence of Dean Green, who always embodied the presence of God’s love in Christ.
Words can never fully express how much Dean Green meant to me, how he influenced the lives of our students in so many wonderful ways. He lived a full life—and always with love at the core of his personality.
His memory will live on in our hearts forever. May he rest in Christ’s eternal peace.