Al Tompkins is the senior faculty for broadcasting and online at The Poynter Institute. He’s also speaking at Indiana Wesleyan University’s Friday chapel services. But Tompkins didn’t wait until Friday to make a bold statement to IWU students: He will write an apology letter to anyone who doesn’t feel his message is worthwhile.
Yes. You read that correctly.
Tompkins made his unprecedented promise Saturday in a comment on The Sojourn’s website.
“I promise that if you don’t find our time together to be worth every minute on Friday-come see me after the service, give me your mailing address and I will write you a hand written letter of apology for wasting your time,” Tompkins said in response to a letter to the editor regarding IWU students’ attitude toward chapel.
And don’t think he’s kidding.
“I could not be more serious,” Tompkins added. “Hold me accountable.”
Tompkins said later in a phone interview with The Sojourn he appreciated the conversation going on in the thread he contributed to.
“Everybody who was talking in this thread was talking from a real place that they cared about, and I think that’s just invigorating,’ Tompkins said. “I think we ought to pay attention to that. Especially those of us who are honored enough to be able to come in from the outside and speak, I think we have to be really careful that we don’t waste anybody’s time.”
Tompkins also said he viewed this opportunity as something that comes with an “obligation to be the best you can be at that time,” citing the influence speakers can have on their large and captive audience.
Students can expect Friday’s message to focus on the stories of three ordinary individuals who “changed their corner of the world,” according to Tompkins.
As for the offer, Tompkins said he intends to stick to his promise, but isn’t sure if anyone will take him up on it.
“I hope not,” Tompkins said. “But I certainly mean it.”