Serving in the United States Navy for 26 years resulted in more than an intim­i­dating demeanor for Jeffery “Chief” Rogers. He also became a Christian aboard a Navy ship and his mil­itary position brought him to Hillsdale College in 2011.

While working as chief of the lab for the Navy in Tokyo three years ago, Rogers was given the choice between moving to several new loca­tions including Guam, New York City, and Michigan. He chose to move his family to Dwight, Michigan, where he began recruiting physi­cians for the Navy. After recruiting two Hillsdale stu­dents, he researched the ideals of Hillsdale College and found they aligned exactly with his own.

There was an opening for a new Asso­ciate Dean of Men at the college and Rogers applied.

“I wanted the job in order to mold stu­dents — the future leaders of tomorrow. I get to mold them today, teaching them to lead today,” said Rogers.

Roger’s emphasis on instructing stu­dents to lead in the present was explained by Davidson Russell, security training officer for Hillsdale College.

“The mil­itary made him realize life is short and there’s no sense in messing around,” Russell said. Before he became a Christian, Rogers was pri­marily con­cerned with super­ficial things like  body­building, but when his faith changed so did his pri­or­ities. He now focuses on how he can pos­i­tively impact others’ lives with his work.

“His plate is very full,” said Russell. Far from an over­statement, Rogers serves Hillsdale College as Asso­ciate Dean of Men, Interim Security Director, Women’s Soccer Club Advisor, Watkins House Director, and his self-pro­claimed most important title, loving husband, and father of two.

So that his son can finish his high school career in Dwight, Chief lives at the Watkins house and com­mutes an hour each weekend in addition to the occa­sional weekday. Although this is an obvious hardship, Rogers wife, Roma, holds a pos­itive outlook.

“Com­par­a­tively to my other friends, who may only get to see their spouse thirty days out of the year, I get to see him a lot, and it’s not a hardship because the Lord placed us here,” said Roma Rogers.

Though Rogers’ family is his first pri­ority, he is not hes­itant to take on many other roles in order to serve Hillsdale College.

“I’ve got my ten­tacles involved with a lot of things, and the reason for it is I have a vested interest in the stu­dents’ success and I want them to do well,” Rogers said. His wife, , upholds this tes­tament saying “his passion is for people.”

Chief’s many roles on Hillsdale’s campus testify to his ded­i­cation to building up excep­tional stu­dents. He accom­plishes this by having high expec­ta­tions and pushing them to reach their goals.

“I want people to stick with the hard stuff… I want you to live up to your God-given potential,” he said.

In addition to sharing how his own tes­timony changed his life, Chief empha­sizes how important it is for stu­dents to be ded­i­cated to their own beliefs while attending Hillsdale College.

“Know what you believe and why you believe it, because it is your fuel,” he said. “I want you to have good success. There’s a dif­ference [between good and bad success]. Good success is doing that which is right in the eyes of He who made you.”

Junior Gena Oster, pres­ident of the women’s soccer club, attests to his pos­itive impact on stu­dents’ lives.

“Whenever someone says some­thing about Chief, a smile always goes on people’s faces and they can think of a pos­itive expe­rience involving him,” she said.

One way Chief con­nects with stu­dents is by advising the women’s soccer club.

The 2011 – 2012 club team’s advisor left without naming a replacement and no alter­native could be found. The soccer club faced the prospect of dis­bandment until Rogers answered the call.

Though willing to fill the need, he admits his short­comings in soccer knowledge.

“I’m not a soccer player, but I know about how to win and about passion and desire … I was on board with their vision, and I’d rather they go kick a soccer ball than kick one of my guys,” he said.

He also leads their con­di­tioning prac­tices on Wednesday evenings.  While it is one of the most dif­ficult workouts many of the ath­letes have ever endured, Oster says Chief keeps them laughing in spite of the pain.

Oster said the team admires Chief for his ability to help them succeed in more than ath­letics.

“He is all about us growing phys­i­cally, men­tally, and spir­i­tually. He wants to train us so we can not only be solid soccer players, but also incredible stu­dents and stronger in our faith,” she said.

He does this through encour­aging good sports­manship and an aca­d­emics-first men­tality reminding them what is really important as a Hillsdale student.

Through chal­lenging stu­dents aca­d­e­m­i­cally, phys­i­cally, and spir­i­tually, Chief Rogers con­stantly encourages stu­dents to lead in new ways. His most recent idea, to be carried out by stu­dents, is to honor those serving in the United States mil­itary. He has asked that whenever someone serving in the mil­itary from Michigan passes away, a student veteran lowers the flag and another plays taps on the trumpet.

“I just want stu­dents outside to give me 90 seconds to remember that freedom isn’t free. People are still dying for it, and we need to honor them.  They may never hear about what we’re doing here at Hillsdale, but it’s my hope that the grass roots would start from us, as a way of saying that we haven’t for­gotten here,” said Rogers.

In many ways, Rogers is planting seeds here at Hillsdale College, where he hopes to cul­tivate stu­dents who live lives of excel­lence in all they do.

“When you graduate, what’s important isn’t the piece of paper or the things you learn here, it’s what kind of legacy you leave behind. What will people say about you? Are they going to glorify God because of who you are, or are they going to talk about you?”

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Macaela Bennett
Collegian editor-in-chief, Macaela J. Bennett grew up in the Pumpkin Capital of the World, Morton, Illinois. In May, she will join The Arizona Republic as a 2016 Pulliam Fellow, working at its News Desk reporting on Metro/Breaking News. In the past, she's interned for The East Peoria Times Courier, Campus Reform, The Town Crier, and The Tennessean. Outside of the newsroom, she enjoys playing soccer, hiking, running, and cheering on the Cubs.