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What about our "integral agencies"!

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  • rlbaty@webtv.net
    An interesting article sent to another list. There, the question was ...     Cracks in the Tower A closer look at the Christian college boom. by Allen
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 9, 2005
      An interesting article sent to another list. There, the question was

      > I wonder how much applies to our
      > schools.  Comments?
      Cracks in the Tower

      A closer look at the Christian college boom.
      by Allen Guelzo

      The same imperative that pushes Christian colleges in pursuit of
      managerial leadership also pushes them in pursuit of prestige faculty,
      who, presumably, can act as enrollment magnets (and, incidentally, as
      hiring trophies for administrators).

      We want, naturally, the best faculty talent we can get, and we want to
      get it from the best schools. But the "best" schools frequently turn out
      to be also the most secularized ones, which means that we are likely to
      find ourselves recruiting people who are already deeply enculturated in
      the value systems of élite universities, and who cannot be easily
      persuaded to abandon them for the missions of Christian colleges. Or
      else, we recruit faculty whose professional expectations have been
      shaped by the research university, and who experience disgruntlement and
      communicate disaffection when they discover the teaching loads and
      salaries on offer in the cash-strapped Christian colleges.

      Even when we are able to recruit new Ph.D.s who can pass doctrinal
      muster, the passing grade is often not a high one. Lacking much
      theological training beyond Sunday school, faculty are often unwilling
      or unable to fully embrace and explain the mission of a particular
      Christian college.

      Pascal once remarked that "pious scholars" were rare, and this would not
      be a bad thing for search committees to commit to memory. In some cases,
      I have seen Christian college faculty positively pride themselves on
      being only "amateur" or "lay" theologians, on the grounds that they are
      much too committed to their disciplines or their students to acquire
      deep theological learning. (I have found this to be especially true in
      those evangelical traditions, like the Anabaptists, which have long
      histories of anti-intellectualism.)

      Unhappily, theological amateurism often becomes a vacuum into which
      secularism fears not to tread.

      In 1996, a Bethel College student, Andrea Sisam, went to the
      extraordinary length of suing Bethel for forcing her to view in class
      selections from the film The Tin Drum, which included scenes of
      simulated oral sex; and I remember being recruited for a senior
      administrative post at another Christian college, and being asked how I
      would respond to parents who were upset when a faculty member in the
      arts assigned Robert Mapplethorpe's photographs to his students.

      All of this is certainly first-rate academics; whether it is still
      Christian is a good question, and one which I expect was once asked at
      Oberlin, Grinnell, and Amherst, too, before the tide washed the
      questioners away.

      Can Christian institutions choke on their own success? Quite possibly,
      and especially on the success we have most prided ourselves upon, which
      is student enrollments.

      We concentrate on the increased enrollments without also asking what it
      is we are increasing our enrollments of. And that may be a much more
      troublesome proposition than the numbers themselves.

      As Arthur Levine and Jeanette Cureton noted in 1998, "students are
      coming to college overwhelmed and more damaged than in the past." More
      than half of the campuses Levine and Cureton surveyed reported
      difficulties with student eating disorders; 44 percent reported campus
      disruptions, 42 percent drug abuse, 35 percent alcohol abuse, 25 percent
      gambling, and 23 percent suicide attempts. Nearly one-third of all
      freshmen grew up in single-parent households; and they are driven to
      college, not by a passion for learning, much less truth, but by terror
      that without a college degree they have nothing to look forward to but
      lives on minimum wage.

      There have always been problem students; but the numbers who bring
      problems with them to college have grown, as have the intractability of
      the problems (histories of sexual abuse as children, single-parent and
      dysfunctional homes, chronic psychological traumas and illnesses). The
      less selective a college can afford to be, the more likely it will see
      mounting numbers of the damaged among its student population.

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