Where Merit Matters

More than affordable, more than accessible, Christian higher education needs to be reliable.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Bob Jones University asks for outside abuse probe
Bob Jones University is asking an outside Christian organization that deals with abuse claims to investigate how the fundamentalist college responds when students say they have been abused.
Trustees at the Christian university in Greenville agreed earlier this month to the investigation, which also will produce recommendations on how to better deal with any allegations of abuse in the future. The investigation will include the nearby affiliated Bob Jones Academy, which teaches students from preschool to 12th grade.
School officials said the investigation was prompted by revelations of sexual abuse in secular and Christian organizations, but isn’t in response to any specific claims of abuse at the school. The university wants to make sure it is doing the right thing when students come to officials to report abuse that happened before they enrolled or off campus, university spokeswoman Carol Keirsteadsaid.
The investigation will be handled by an organization called GRACE, which stands for Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment.
Bob Jones University was founded in 1927 and is known for its fundamentalist Christian views.
Published: January 27, 2013 "College notes"

The State
Accessed February 19, 2013

Read more here: http://www.thestate.com/2013/01/27/2606570/college-notes.html#storylink=cpy

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Dinesh D’Souza resigns as Christian college chief in face of questions about marriage

October 18th, 2012
05:10 PM ET
By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor
(CNN) – Conservative writer and activist Dinesh D’Souza, who attracted wide attention with his recent anti-Obama film “2016: Obama’s America,” resigned Thursday as president of a Christian college in New York after questions were raised about his marriage.
D’Souza had led The King’s College, a small but prestigious evangelical school in Manhattan, for the past two years.
His departure appeared to be set in motion by an article on the website of the evangelical magazine World that accused D’Souza, who is married, of sharing a hotel room with a woman whom he allegedly referred to as his “fiancé” at a Christian conference.
D’Souza has denied the allegations in the article, published Tuesday, and said he has been separated from his wife for two years and is in the process of getting a divorce.
“I am grateful for the past two years that I have spent as president of The King’s College. But now it is time to move on,” D’Souza said in a statement Thursday. “My resignation will enable The King’s College to go forward without distraction.
“And it will also enable me to address personal matters in my life as well as to pursue new opportunities made possible by success of my recent book and film,” said the statement, which was posted on his personal website.
D’Souza issued an in-depth rebuttal of the World article on the Fox News website on Wednesday. He did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Thursday.
“I met Denise three months ago,” D’Souza wrote in his rebuttal, referring to the woman mentioned in the World article. “We are not and have not been having an affair. Nor did we share a hotel room in Charlotte."
On Thursday, The King’s College board issued a statement about accepting D’Souza’s resignation.
“After careful consultation with the Board and with Dinesh, we have accepted his resignation to allow him to attend to his personal and family needs,” the college said in a letter to alumni.
“We thank him for his service and significant contribution to the College over the last two years."
The D’Souza flap has pitted two high-profile evangelical institutions – The King’s College and World magazine – against each other
King’s prides itself on being a new intellectual and urban face of evangelicalism, training Christians for careers in media, government and business and regularly attracting high-profile speakers like Mike Huckabee and the conservative editor Adam Bellow.
World is an intellectual bastion of American evangelicalism, edited by former George W. Bush adviser Marvin Olasky, who is also the former provost at The King’s College.
In his rebuttal, D’Souza said Olasky “vehemently opposed” his appointment as president at King’s and was using World magazine to “continue his vendetta.”
“Ultimately this is not just about Olasky or even World magazine,” D’Souza wrote. “It is also about how we Christians are supposed to behave with one another. And the secular world is watching.
“If my conduct was improper, wouldn’t it be the decent and charitable thing to approach me about it?” he continued. “Instead, here is a clear attempt to destroy my career and my ministry.”
Olasky did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday. World magazine said on its website that its board of directors inserted prayers for King's and for D'Souza into the minutes of its meeting on Thursday.
"All-too-frequent reports of the sinful failing of our accomplished leaders bring us no joy," the prayer said, in part. "Instead, the searching light of your Holy Word illumines our hearts and minds to our own flaws and failures."

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

New Pensacola Christian College President Shoemaker is 'Keeper of the vision'

Written by Rob Johnson 11:53 PM, May. 16, 2012

Normally soft spoken, the new president of Pensacola Christian College was once heard by a colleague to yell.

The unusual outburst by Dr. Troy Shoemaker came as he jumped from a 75-foot-high bungee platform in Destin a few years ago.

“When he stepped off, he hollered my name,” said Jeff Redlin, a friend of Shoemaker’s and former PCC faculty member who also took the leap of faith for fun that day.

Shoemaker, 45, is a trusting soul who believes his life and career testify to the wisdom of God’s plan.

“The Lord has put me in just the right place at just the right time,” he said.

As a young man, Shoemaker’s personal dreams didn’t rise to the level of a college presidency

“I studied to be a science and math teacher, and that’s what I thought I would do the rest of my life,” he said.

But out of a possible in-house leadership pool of 16,600 Pensacola Christian graduates since the college opened in 1974, Shoemaker has emerged at the top.

Dr. Arlin Horton was president of PCC and his wife, Rebekah, was vice president since they founded the college until their retirement this month.

Through the years, they put the definitive stamp on every aspect of their academic institution and its two major campuses, the 3,800-student college and the 2,200-student Pensacola Christian Academy.

And that stamp is no less evident in their handpicking of Shoemaker as their successor.

“Over the years he became a depositary for the Hortons’ ideas,” said Dr. Phyllis Rand, chairwoman of the college’s education program. “They emptied into him everything that they thought.”

And they gradually gave him a share in just about every major area of responsibility.

For the past four years, Shoemaker has held three major positions at once: chief administrator of the academy, vice president and dean of graduate studies at the college, and chief academic officer for the international A Beka Academy long-distance learning program.

Shoemaker said that by next fall three people will be named to those jobs so he can focus on running the college.

His authority came bit by bit as the Hortons came to trust his ability and energy. He became the one administrator whom the couple met with almost daily for the last decade and a half, associates say.

“He just stood out as the one person able to take on so much responsibility,” said Amy Glenn, a PCC spokeswoman.

Maybe just as importantly, through it all, Shoemaker and the Hortons bonded.

“I think like they think,” he said.

Although Shoemaker said he doesn’t envision major changes at the college, he is quietly planning for a new era that may include a much larger student body.

He also has pursued academic accreditation from an outside organization — long shunned by the Hortons — that may make it easier for students to transfer PCC credits to other schools.

But he asserted in a recent interview there will be no compromising on the Hortons’ traditions.

“My greatest desire is for people to see in only the second president of Pensacola Christian College that the transition won’t change things for the worse,” he said.

“In other words, we won’t lose our foundation or Biblical connection. Times change, and morals and values often go in different directions. But I’d like to be the keeper of the vision at PCC.”

From student to president

Shoemaker’s legacy at PCC dates back to 1984, when he enrolled as a freshman.

While the school isn’t for everyone, Shoemaker found the Christian environment, with its traditional curriculum, rigid rules and tough-love discipline, an ideal extension of his childhood years.

He’s the son of a devout Indiana physician.

“My mom and dad were in church every time the doors opened,” he said.

He attended a small private Christian school in Northwest Indiana, where he heard about Pensacola Christian College and decided to enroll.

On the way to graduating from PCC with a bachelor’s degree in education in May 1989, he was honored by the faculty as teaching assistant of the year.

“Way back then, his teachers saw potential in him,” Rand said.

In the fall of 1989, he started teaching high school science at the academy, and he never left the employment of the Hortons.

While working full time, he took classes at night and during the summers to earn graduate degrees at PCC, including a doctorate in education.

Meanwhile, he also completed a graduate degree at the University of West Florida, receiving a specialist’s diploma in education, which is on a level between a master’s degree and doctorate.

Shoemaker’s exposure to higher education outside PCC’s fundamental religious approach hasn’t changed his beliefs.

He showed an easygoing manner when a reporter asked him to discuss his reasoning in rejecting the theory of evolution in PCC’s science classes and its other curriculum.

Indeed, he has made peace with the outside world in that regard, and he’s an effective spokesman for the creationism creed that underscores his institution.

“As a scientist and as a Christian, there’s no conflict with what the Bible teaches and a six-day literal creation as what’s stated in Genesis,” Shoemaker said. “Evolution is just a scientific theory. That’s all it is.”

Wife and family

Shoemaker also met his future wife, Denise, when both were students at PCC.

They have three children: Trey, 21, and Jessica, 19, are students at PCC; youngest son, Trevor, 17, is an 11th-grader at the academy.

The Shoemakers’ marriage affirms the Hortons’ philosophy that couples who are right for each other will find a way to work within PCC rules.

Those edicts include no physical contact, including hand holding, between unmarried students and off-campus dating only under the supervision of an approved chaperone.

“There is, in my opinion, no better place to find a spouse than here at Pensacola Christian College,” Shoemaker said.

“I’ve told my kids growing up and we’ve told our college students: ‘You be the right sort of person yourself and trust the Lord has got someone out there that’s he’s preparing to be your spouse. When the time is right he’ll bring you together.”

Shoemaker won’t change the button-down manner of carefully supervising student dating and intimacy because the current system is working.

“There’s a lot of people getting engaged at the beach,” he said. And beyond that, matrimony in droves, over the years: “You’re talking hundreds, thousands of students.”

A capacity to grow

An affable man who ventures from behind his desk to sit by a reporter, Shoemaker allows that his view of PCC is inevitably a bit different from the Hortons.

Partly, he thinks that results in having children in the school.

“My perspective, having children in school here myself, is valuable and that will be reflected in dealings with students, parents and faculty,” he said.

He’s seen as more approachable than his predecessor, too.

He’s more visible around campus than the aging Hortons were in recent years. For example, he has often played pickup basketball with other faculty members.

Shoemaker sees himself as more outgoing than Arlin Horton, up to a point.

“I don’t mind getting up in front of people and speaking, which he was somewhat reluctant to do,” he said. “But I don’t have a vision to be more of a public relations guy than Dr. Horton was. This ministry isn’t built around personality.”

Although growing the student body isn’t a specific goal for Shoemaker, he said he’d welcome larger enrollment.

“We have the capacity to grow in the facilities we already have,” he said, adding that PCC has never set a maximum number for students. “I would love to see the college grow. And if it’s the Lord’s will, we can grow to another 50 percent above what we are now.”

Such a gradual increase would raise PCC’s enrollment by 1,900 to 5,700.

“I think anyone who’s worth his salt and loves what he’s doing would want it to grow and be successful.” he said.

Accreditation steps

Shoemaker already has led the way in a departure from the Hortons’ decades-long policy of ignoring outside accrediting authorities.

They were concerned that accreditation could bring government interference to their very private campus.

The college and the academy have never accepted any federal or state loans or grants, nor do any of the students have such grants or loans.

But the Hortons had eased their objections lately.

So last fall, the school applied for and gained membership in a national accrediting organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, the Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools in Forest, Va.

“I had the privilege of spearheading that endeavor,” Shoemaker said.

Although the group’s seal of approval isn’t mainstream as seen by many public institutions, such as the University of West Florida, it’s a step in that direction.

It’s also an indicator of PCC’s increased desire for adaption to the world beyond its gates in part to make its credits easier for students to be accepted into post-graduate degree programs at other institutions.

“One of the first questions they get asked is if they’re from an accredited institution,” Shoemaker said.

Like the Hortons, Shoemaker also values PCC’s considerable recreational facilities, such as an ice skating rink and rock climbing tower.

He says he’ll expand on the Hortons’ legacy. But one amenity specifically not in the plans is a bungee tower.

If he wants to jump, he’ll return to Destin, as he already has two or three times, he said.

It’s reasonably handy yet far enough away so PCC students won’t hear the screams of their daredevil president in joyful free fall.

(Troy Shoemaker honors Arlin and Rebekah Horton during their retirement celebration.)

Dr. Troy Shoemaker

» Age: 45.
» Title: President of Pensacola Christian College, the second president since the college was founded in 1974.
» Family: Wife, Denise; three children.
» Education: Bachelor of Science degree in secondary education, PCC, 1989. Master’s degree in educational administration, PCC, 1994. Specialist in curriculum and instruction (a graduate degree that’s between a master’s and a doctorate), University of West Florida, 2001. Doctorate in curriculum and instruction, PCC, 2007.
» Career highlights: 22 years in teaching and leadership positions at PCC and at Pensacola Christian Academy. Concurrently spent 14 years as chief academic officer for A Beka Academy, the Hortons’ nationwide and international long-distance learning program.
» Hobbies: Pick-up basketball with faculty members. Occasional bungee jumping in Destin.

Pensacola Christian College

» Student enrollment: 3,800.
» Faculty: 444 full-time teachers and staff; 299 part time.
» Annual payroll: $27.6 million
» Annual revenue: $90 million.
Source: Pensacola Christian College

Shoemaker Career highlights:

22 years in teaching and leadership positions at PCC and at Pensacola Christian Academy. Concurrently spent 14 years as chief academic officer for A Beka Academy, the Hortons’ nationwide and international long-distance learning program.


Accessed May 30, 21012

Monday, October 31, 2011

Christian College Gives Pro-Riots Leftist Piven a Forum, Then Cancels Conservative Speaker

By Human Events

Nothing has changed on America’s campuses.

Frances Fox Piven. You’ve probably heard that name before. She’s the aging leftist “academic” who called for Greek-style “strikes and riots” here in America. She’s advocated overloading the state and federal welfare programs to accelerate the fall of capitalism. She’s a proud admirer of Karl Marx and an honorary chair of the Democratic Socialists of America … and that’s all before lunchtime.

Naturally, she’s also a college professor in New York City. So to maintain “solidarity” with her underworked and overpaid professoriate brethren, Piven also hits the college speaking circuit.

Just last week, Piven was a guest speaker at Messiah College, as part of the school’s American Democracy Lecture series. As one would expect, she used the occasion to prove her leftist bona fides by calling the Tea Party racist, compared the Occupy Wall Street temper tantrum to the Civil Rights Movement, reaffirmed her dreams of seeing mass rioting in the United States, and even went as far as to say that “riots are what poor people do when they get together.”

Great way to boost the image of those you claim to champion, Frances: Liken them to barbarians!

But here’s where the story gets good.

There was supposed to be a conservative speaker tonight at the school to counter Piven’s intemperate views. The talk, “Why I Love Rich People (And You Should Too),” was the type of counterbalance needed after giving Piven two uninterrupted hours with the small Pennsylvania college’s student body. That's what the College Republicans thought anyway.

But a strange thing happened from when Piven’s lecture concluded to when the conservative was supposed to take stage: Professors at Messiah pressured the College Republicans chapter to rescind the invitation two days before the event was supposed to transpire. Why? Because the conservative speaker was deemed too controversial.

We kid you not.

The main culprit was history Prof. James LaGrand, who advises the College Republicans. He twisted their arms to retract the invite, claiming that the speaker’s recent comments were “problematic.” On the surface it may seem odd that a self-professed Christian school would be hostile to the presentation of conservative ideas, but that’s nothing unusual for Messiah. Students and alum tell us that teachers there preach “social justice” (read: socialism) as though it were gospel, which is why when the president of the College Republicans told us on Saturday evening that LaGrand wanted their forum canceled, we believed him.

We have a keen interest in this “person” who was allegedly “problematic.” He’s our editor, Jason Mattera. LaGrand found the “evidence” he needed to advance his nasty crusade after he read student news clippings of one of Mattera’s recent speeches at Kalamazoo College, in which the hysterical campus liberals did what they do best: Accused a conservative of hating blacks, Latinos, gays, and whoever else is the aggrieved group of the week on the Left.

Exposing Obama’s failed policies that hurt all Americans, but minorities the hardest is raaaaaaaaaaaacist. (Did we put enough As in?)

The Kalamazoo libs also got their tighty-whities in a knot after Mattera told one guy during the Q&A portion to stop acting like a teenage girl hitting puberty. Mattera’s from Brooklyn, so his style isn’t for those with fragile emotions. Regardless, we’re talking about a college campus here, not a gathering of middle-school children who are restless for chocolate milk and dodgeball. In any event, you should've seen the Kalamazoo protester in person. He was an adult male dressed up as a zombie, nearly bawling his eyes out over the assertion that he mindlessly voted for Dear Leader.


In reality, Prof. LaGrand has never heard any of Mattera’s speeches. This self-appointed judge of “proper tone” based his decision on a couple of student newspaper articles packed with spelling errors (Conservative author and speaker “ingnites” heated debate and students “potested” Mattera, for instance). The fact that LaGrand would take those stories at face value makes us wonder about his own critical thinking skills, let alone those of the students he’s responsible for educating. When asked by HUMAN EVENTS whether he had ever heard Mattera’s talk at Kalamazoo for himself, LaGrand answered: “Whatever I could find online.”

What a scrapper, that LaGrand! Can’t fool him. The problem is that there is no recording of Mattera’s prepared remarks on the Internet. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Unless LaGrand is omniscient. If so, we seem to be dealing with a messianic complex.

To recap: Messiah College allows one of the most radical people on the planet to speak, a person who calls for armed revolution and the destruction of capitalism, but a conservative’s invitation is retracted because the speech police didn’t appreciate Mattera’s "tone" at another school.

Messiah’s spinelessness aside, school bureaucrats flat-out lied to their students and the community. When angry e-mails protesting Piven’s planned appearance came pouring in, Peter Kerry Powers, dean of Messiah’s humanities school, deflected criticism by telling the local paper that Piven’s talk “surely will be balanced” by… Jason Mattera.

Ha, suckers.

Of course, Messiah can invite and disinvite whomever it wants. But that’s not the issue. Here we have another example from the world of academia in which conservative speakers are very unwelcome, while leftist ones are heralded as models of tolerance and diversity, even if they’re calling for the overthrow of the U.S. government. That’s acceptable. Indeed it’s encouraged.

But tell some pimply kid on campus dressed in a Halloween outfit who’s still waiting for Barack Obama to hand-deliver him strawberry-scented welfare checks that he needs to man-up? That brings out the ire of left-wingers for sure.

Parents who are thinking of sending their kids to Messiah College, take notice.

Alumni who repeatedly get letters and phone calls from Messiah’s fund-raising department, you too. The students there are being programmed to be politically correct drones.

Should the College Republicans have capitulated to Prof. LaGrand’s demands? No, of course not. But let them view this as a “teachable moment.” You can’t appease liberals. You must confront them.


Accessed October 31, 2011

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Calvin College Professor Claims Administration Not Truthful Over Colleague's Resignation

By Napp Nazworth | Christian Post Reporter
Wed, Aug. 17 2011 12:24 PM EDT

A Calvin College professor claims that college administrators are being dishonest about the forced resignation of one of his colleagues over issues related to evolution and scriptural interpretation.

In a statement to the Grand Rapids Press, Calvin College, a liberal arts college in Grand Rapids, Mich., said that John Schneider, professor of religion at Calvin College for 25 years, “chose to request retirement on terms that reflected his love and respect for the college, the faculty, and the students, and his desire that his scholarship not cause harm or distraction. The college, with appreciation and respect for Professor Schneider's many contributions and faithful service as a scholar and teacher, agreed to grant such retirement as of June 30, 2011.”

“All of that is false,” Professor Dan Harlow told The Christian Post. Schneider did not leave on amicable terms, as the college is claiming.

The controversy began in the spring of 2009 when The American Scientific Affiliation invited Harlow, Schneider and two other theologians to present their views on the question of whether Adam and Eve really existed, in light of perceived scientific discoveries. Harlow and Schneider took the view that the story of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden found in Genesis did not really happen as described in Scripture. Rather, they believe stories such as these are best understood as allegories (short moral stories often with animals), rather than an account of historical events.

“If we are going to be Christians with integrity, and use our God-given capacity to think and use our brains, we have to find a way of re-thinking the character and status of Adam and Eve, we have to find a way of rethinking and re-articulating these Christian doctrines of fall and original sin, of salvation through Christ from sin,” Harlow explained.

After the conference, Harlow and Schneider were invited by The American Scientific Affiliation to publish papers in its journal, Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, based upon their conference papers. The editor who sent the invitation happened to be Arie Leegwater, professor emeritus at Calvin College.

According to Harlow, for the next year he and Schneider “very carefully and deliberately vetted” their work through the proper channels at Calvin College.

“I gave copies of my paper to be published to the provost, the academic deans, and members of the biology, religion, history, and philosophy faculty, and I got the green light,” Harlow said.

Additionally, Schneider was eligible for a sabbatical in October 2009, shortly after the conference. His sabbatical proposal was basically a condensed version of his conference paper, and it was approved, without controversy, by the college's top governance committee and the Board of Trustees.

The only top official that did not see Harlow's and Schneider's work was Calvin College President Gaylen Byker, who was on a sabbatical at the time.

Harlow and Schneider's papers were published in September 2010. About the same time, Byker returned from his sabbatical, read the journal, and did not like what Harlow and Schneider had written.

On September 27, 2010, at a Faculty Senate meeting, according to Harlow, Byker publicly accused Harlow and Schneider of violating the confessional statements they agreed to as a condition of their employment, violating the terms of their employment contracts, and violating the processes and procedures for research and publication as detailed in their faculty handbook.

Harlow maintains that he and Schneider followed all the proper procedures and that their positions are consistent with the faith and confessional statements of the college (which are the same as the Christian Reformed Church to which Calvin College belongs).

“When I wrote this article and vetted it at Calvin College, I did not see any inconsistency with the core theological truth claims found in the confessions; in other words, what they intended to teach and what I wrote in my article. The way I read the confessions is that they are intent upon teaching the revealed truth of human sinfulness, of human need for God's saving grace in Jesus Christ,” Harlow said.

Moreover, Harlow maintains that Byker actually violated the college's processes and procedures provided by the Board of Trustees when he took his grievances first to the Faculty Senate.

“So in the last year, what our provost and academic deans have been trying to do is to backtrack and clean up the mess that [Byker] created,” Harlow said.

The Board of Trustees cleared Harlow of all wrongdoing in February 2011 after it became clear that he followed all the proper procedures. However, the Board of Trustees, under the influence of the president, decided to pressure Schneider further, according to Harlow.

They demanded that he provide, by a certain date, a formal written account of how his writings are consistent with Christian Reformed Church beliefs. Schneider decided to fight the board and threatened to sue the college. At that point, according to Harlow, the board, not wanting negative publicity, backed off. Schneider's lawyer negotiated a severance package with the college that included a legally binding gag rule that prevents Schneider and the college from ever talking about the controversy.

“It is an open secret among a huge number of faculty at Calvin that what the administration is saying about his amicable desire to leave is contrary to the truth,” Harlow said.

Steve Matheson, a research biologist at Calvin College, also recently left the college.

Harlow thinks it could be related to the controversy surrounding him and Schneider. Harlow says he has no idea of what really happened, but “in print and on campus [Matheson] was the most vocal and strident critic of our president, provost and college administration for their botching of this whole affair.”

According to Matheson, in an email to The Christian Post, his departure was due to personal reasons and not directly linked to Schneider's departure, "even though we both hold unpopular positions on questions related to human origins."

"Some reasons are related to the controversy surrounding Dan [Harlow] and John [Schneider] and to my well-known criticism of college leadership, some are unrelated, but the decision to leave was mine alone," Matheson wrote.

One of the interesting aspects of this controversy is that Calvin College is not a strictly fundamentalist school. Its science professors take an old earth view of the creation story in Genesis and the college's own website affirms its belief in the theory of evolution.

Two of the science faculty at Calvin, the husband and wife team of Loren and Deborah Haarsma, published a book called, Origins: A Reformed Look at Creation, Design, and Evolution. The book explains the different ways that Christians have grappled with reconciling scientific discoveries with Scripture. The college's own website has a description of the book in which it quotes Loren Haarsma, saying, “Francis Collins, who heads up the [Human Genome Project], is an evangelical Christian and he says the data very strongly indicates that humans share common ancestry with other living things. How will we grapple with that as Christians?”

Schneider and Harlow have chosen to follow Haarsma's suggestion and “grapple with that as Christians,” yet the same college that promotes Haarsma's book has tried, to some success, to reprimand and censor them.

Harlow worries that Calvin College's reputation has been seriously harmed because of this controversy. “I think Calvin College is one of the gems of American liberal arts education. It's the finest Christian liberal arts college in the country. I love our college and it's mission. I love our students and our faculty,” Harlow said.

Harlow also said that what disturbs him the most is that he works at a Christian college, but the administration is not behaving Christ-like as they continue to mislead the public about the circumstances surrounding Schneider's decision to leave, and the extent to which he and Schneider vetted their work before publishing.

“Our administrators are concerned about the reformed Christian identity of Calvin College, but they seem less concerned about Christ's call to speak the truth because the truth will set you free,” Harlow said, “They're more concerned about the college's reputation, constituency, fund-raising and development, all legitimate concerns, but when truth, the truth about faculty members who have been here for decades, takes a backseat to those other legitimate concerns, there is something deeply wrong.”

Calvin College declined a request from The Christian Post for an interview, saying, "We do not comment on personnel matters."

Clarification: August 17, 2011

An earlier version of this article stated, based upon the interview with Harlow, that Matheson "left under mysterious circumstances," and "Matheson did not tell anyone, including his closest friends at the college and his department chair, that he was leaving. An academic dean called his department to a meeting and announced that Matheson had left, but provided no explanation."

Matheson contacted The Christian Post to say that it was his choice to leave quietly. Though he told his closest friends, the decision to leave was announced by a Dean to his department, and he was disappointed that it was handled that way.

"My aim was to leave quietly, meaning without a lot of rehashing of my unhappiness and without any parting shots. I respect Calvin's choice to pursue a narrower vision of Christian scholarship, and I don't want the ongoing debate to be influenced by my choice to go in a different direction. Hence, I made no big announcement," said Matheson.


Accessed August 31, 2011

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Christian Colleges Hope House Bill Will Repeal New Rules

CCCU says government's solution to for-profit problems threatens schools' autonomy.

Morgan Feddes | posted 6/30/2011 10:24AM

Christian colleges are hoping that a bill making its way through the U.S. House of Representatives may resolve their concerns over education regulations that go into effect July 1.

Under the new regulations, created by the Department of Education (DOE) in response to reports of financial-aid fraud at several for-profit institutions, states are required to have a "substantive" procedure to license private schools. For religious universities, this has raised concern that political agendas could be imposed on their missions. (See "New Rules Worry Christian Colleges," November 1, 2010.)

"My concern is that there appears to be no limit to what factors a state can consider when granting or withholding authorization, and no mechanisms for appeal or due process," said Blair Dowden, president of Huntington University, at a March hearing before a House committee.

The regulations include an exemption for religious institutions, provided the institution "is owned, controlled, operated, and maintained by a religious organization lawfully operating as a nonprofit religious corporation and awards only religious degrees or religious certificates including, but not limited to, a certificate of Talmudic studies, an associate of biblical studies, a bachelor of religious studies, a master of divinity, or a doctor of divinity."

That definition is so narrow, Dowden testified, that "not one member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) would qualify for an exemption."

Shapri LoMaglio, government relations director of the CCCU, said the council is strongly united with the rest of the higher-education community in wanting to see the new regulations eventually overturned.

"These [regulations] are a complete overreach into the institutional autonomy that private colleges should [have] and need in order to function as the independent and unique institutions that they are," she said.

In an attempt to address concerns, the DOE sent out a "Dear Colleague" letter to higher-education institutions in March with dozens of answers to commonly asked questions. A second letter in May announced an extension for distance-education compliance until July 1, 2014, provided institutions make "good faith efforts to identify and obtain necessary State authorization before that date."

However, the majority of the higher-education community is still trying to get the regulations ultimately repealed.

Of particular concern is the new federal definition of a credit hour. Opponents argue that defining the sacrosanct credit hour would limit innovation in learning strategies and cause undue problems in accreditation.

Additionally, opponents argue that the new need for a college to obtain authorization from each state it has distance-learning students in would be costly and could reduce the scale of online programs.

Dowden says that while Huntington does not currently have a large online program, the university is hoping to expand. But the new regulations would make it difficult and expensive.

"[The authorization process] is in some states very onerous, and if we only have one or two students in those states, we're not going to spend the money or fill out all the paperwork that's required to be able to operate in those states," he said.

John Ebersole, president of Excelsior College, said just under a third of Excelsior's 30,000 students complete their coursework solely online. However, all of Excelsior's students could take an online class. This means that Excelsior has to register in all 54 jurisdictions, which will cost the school about $300,000. While that number will vary slightly from school to school, Ebersole said it's likely that more than half a billion dollars will be spent across the country to comply with the new requirements—a cost that will be passed on to students.

"[There are] two things the administration says it wants to do: increase access to education and reduce the cost," Ebersole said. "The action it has taken [in state authorization] is absolutely counter to both of those objectives."

The bill sponsored by Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), chairwoman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, would not only repeal the regulations but also prohibit the DOE from establishing a federal definition of the term "credit hour" in the future.

Ebersole said he thinks the bill will eventually be passed in the House, but he's doubtful about any success in the Senate.

"Even if we could convince a few of the Democratic senators to support it, it would be very unusual for the President to sign a bill that essentially takes to task his own Department of Education," Ebersole said. "I really appreciate the spirit of the bill, but I don't think it's heading anywhere."


Accessed July 11, 2011

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Bethany University to close, president says

SCOTTS VALLEY - The end has come for Bethany University, the 100-year-old Christian college in Scotts Valley that has struggled in the past couple of years with dwindling finances and shrinking enrollment.

Bethany President Lew Shelton announced the Assemblies of God college is closing during a meeting Monday with faculty and staff.

"There will be an immediate cessation of all teaching activities June 13 and we will prepare for an orderly shutdown of the university," said Shelton, reading a letter from the college's chairman of the board Rev. James Braddy. "We did all we could to avoid this painful decision. We simply had no other choice. I have prayed and done all I can do."

The college is preparing a "teach out" plan in which summer courses will be completed.

Letters and emails from university officials will be sent to Bethany's students and parents to inform them of the decision.

The closure will go before Bethany's board of trustees at a meeting July 7 for formal approval, Shelton said.

Details are being worked out in regard to final pay for staff, refunds for students, scholarships for athletes and settling debts to its numerous vendors, he said.

The closure comes after a deal with private investors to purchase the university fell apart.

Last week, Bethany officials announced that the college would be taken over by an unidentified group of investors, and Shelton declared he would step down as president.

However, the funding never materialized, Shelton said.

Posted: 06/13/2011 02:48:54 PM PDT
Updated: 06/13/2011 02:56:54 PM PDT


Accessed June 23, 2011