How Much Money Do Christian College Presidents Make?


Over at The Pietist Schoolman, Chris Gehrz has the answers.

Here is a taste:

In 2013 I parsed some data from The Chronicle of Higher Education to see how well evangelical college and university presidents were paid. Since the Chronicle just released an updated version of the study, today thought I’d revisit that question.

Four years ago about a third of the presidents in the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU) were included in the Chronicle set, with the median CCCU president earning just a shade under $300,000 in total compensation — over $80,000 lower than the median for all private college presidents in the study. Just seven CCCU presidents were in the top half of earners. But if you expressed presidential compensation as a share of overall institutional expenditures, then the CCCU set exceeded the overall median. By that standard seven CCCU presidents were in the top 100, with Bill Ellis (Howard Payne) and Dub Oliver (East Texas Baptist, now at Union University) cracking the top 50.

And now? Thirty-five CCCU presidents appear in the newest version of the Chronicle exercise with data from 2014 (the most recent for which numbers were available). In general, they were paid much less than their peers (only 86.5% of the national median for private colleges). But eight were in the top half of the rankings, and presidential compensation again accounted for a larger share of institutional expenses at CCCU schools than at most other private colleges.

By two newer measures — ratios of executive compensation to average student tuition and to average salary for full professor — the CCCU presidents were right in the national middle, with earnings equal to the tuition paid by just over 12 students and the salary earned by 4.4 senior faculty members.

Here’s the full Google Sheet, if you want to see the full data. One thing to note: there are only three women on this list, and the highest-paid (Kim Phipps of Messiah College) earns 10% less than the median compensation for private college presidents.

Read the rest, including charts and rankings, here.  Thanks for your work on this Chris!

Teaser:  Jerry Falwell Jr. is the highest paid Christian college president in the country.  He makes about $896,000 a year.  Only the presidents of Arizona State, Texas, Texas A&M, Florida, Indiana, Penn State, Ohio State, and Iowa make more than Falwell.

The highest paid president in the Coalition for Christian Colleges and Universities (Liberty University is not a member of this coalition) is Randy O’Rear of Mary Hardin-Baylor University.  He makes $549,165.  Philip Ryken of Wheaton is close behind at $516,148.

Correction: Court Evangelical Falwell Jr. Is Still Participating in a Task Force on Higher Education

Falwell Jr Trump

On Monday we posted about a Politico report (via Insider Higher Ed) claiming that Liberty University president Jerry Falwell Jr. will not be participating in a Trump-sponsored task force on higher education.  This is apparently not true.

According to more recent reporting by Kimberly Winston at Religion News Service, Falwell Jr. will sit on a White House committee on higher education. (He will not be sitting on a similar committee to be held under the auspices of the Department of Education).

Here is a taste of Kimberly Winston’s piece:

Last week, Politico Pro reported the task force was not happening — before reporting later the same day that it was, with Falwell on board. Doubt may have stemmed from fact that Trump failed to mention it in his remarks at Liberty University’s May 13 graduation or at the Faith and Freedom Coalition on June 9 — both ideal places to announce such a force.

And on May 31, the Department of Education issued a letter that did not include Falwell on a list of people who would work under its authority on a task force on regulation rollbacks.

Then Sunday, a White House spokesman confirmed Falwell will participate in a separate White House task force, also on higher education.

Read the rest here.

Court Evangelical Falwell Jr. Will NOT Be Leading a Task Force on Higher Education

File Photo: U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump shakes hands with Jerry Falwell Jr. at a campaign rally in Council Bluffs, Iowa

Here is a taste of Andrew Kreighbaum’s piece at Inside Higher Ed:

In the months since Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. said in January that he would be leading a presidential task force on higher education, the announcement went unacknowledged by the White House and the Department of Education, and few details have been forthcoming.

Now it appears that a Falwell-led task force won’t be materializing at all. Politico reported Thursday that multiple sources said there is no task force and no plan to launch one.

Falwell, one of President Trump’s earliest supporters, had promised that the task force would deal with federal regulation of colleges and universities as well as accreditors. He said he announced the enterprise after getting the green light from Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist. Many higher education leaders, including some who are critical of the Trump administration and not particularly close to Falwell, have praised the idea of simplifying or eliminating some regulations of the sector.

In a statement through the university, Falwell indicated that he would still be involved in a White House task force dealing with education.

“The White House contacted me last week and asked me to be a part of a group of 15 college presidents to address education issues,” he said. “This is a White House task force and not a Department of Education task force.”

Trump last month gave the commencement address at the Liberty campus in Lynchburg, Va. But his speech notably left out any mention of a task force.

Read the rest here.  It looks like Falwell will not be joining fellow court evangelical Betsy DeVos in the shaping of American education policy.

Adam Laats on Evangelical Colleges and Trump: Concluding Thoughts

6258d-clintonatmessiahAdam Laats has now had a chance to respond to my critique of his HNN piece .  I am not going to go into too much detail here, but I think we will just have to agree to disagree on some of the key assertions he makes.

Consider this paragraph from his response:

The leaders of all schools, not just evangelical ones, have to remain excruciatingly aware of a kind of “third rail” in American higher education.  To remain alive—and don’t forget that mere survival cannot be taken for granted these days—institutions of higher education must preserve at all costs their reputations.  This has always been and will always be a maddeningly frustrating and imprecise challenge.  At all schools, reputation becomes an unpredictable mix of academic prestige, numbers of applicants, perceptions of peers, athletic performance, and a host of other factors.  Not just to thrive and prosper, but simply to continue to exist, administrators must guard their schools’ reputations relentlessly.  A good reputation means more applications, which means a higher selectivity ranking, which means more applications, which means more tuition dollars, which means improved facilities, which means more applications, etc. etc.

Evangelical colleges share this dilemma, but with an added factor.  Evangelical schools need to maintain and defend their reputations as academic institutions, but also as safe havens for evangelical youth.  In addition to the challenges faced by every college administrator and trustee, the leaders of evangelical schools need to wrestle with the ever-changing and ever-contentious nature of evangelicalism itself.

However the boundaries of evangelicalism are defined, whether in 1935, 1963, or 2016, schools need to remain squarely within them.  More relevant, they need to be seen by the evangelical public as remaining squarely within those boundaries.  If school administrators fail, students and alumni will vote with their wallets, taking their tuition dollars and donations elsewhere.

This does not mean that faculty, students, and administrators won’t push those boundaries. In fact, at many schools there is a long tradition, almost an expectation, that faculty and students will do so.  But we need to be careful not to mistake this tradition—what Fred Clark aptly callobama-and-hillarys the “faculty lounge” perspective—to be the entirety of evangelical higher education.  It’s not.  Rather, even the winked-at toleration of such boundary-pushing only underlines the vital fact that every school has certain poorly defined lines that no one is allowed to cross.  Or, to be more precise, it means that the evangelical public needs to feel confident that the school as a whole is not crossing those lines, even if some students and teachers are.  Or are rumored to be.

There is a lot of good stuff in these paragraphs that people who study evangelical higher education need to keep in mind.  For example, constituency, boards, and donors obviously play a major role in institutional identity. Boards do indeed guard reputations.  Donors and constituencies do have a voice.

But I return to the argument posed in Laats’s original piece.  Laats argued that evangelical Christian colleges were one of the main reasons why so many evangelicals turned to Trump.  I still disagree.

Frankly, part of me wants to agree with Laats.  I wish vast numbers of evangelicals paid attention to what Christian colleges have to offer evangelical political and cultural witness. Sadly, then do not.

In the quoted paragraphs above, Laats assumes that there is a correlation between a board concerned with a college’s Christian reputation and that board’s support or endorsement of Trump.  It is certainly possible that the leadership or board members of a Christian college that wants to define itself in certain confessional ways on issues related to other world religions, gay marriage, doctrine, religious liberty, etc. can still reject Trump.  Many did, although it is hard to gauge since many Christian college boards are not always in the business of endorsing or not endorsing presidential candidates.

Let the conversation continue in the comment section.

The 2016 POTUS Election: A View From the Christian College Classroom


John Haas is Associate Professor of History at Bethel College in Mishawaka, Indiana. Bethel is a member of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU).

Haas has commented on Adam Laats’s response to my critique of his History News Network piece suggesting that Christian colleges had something to do with the evangelical support for Donald Trump in November.  His thoughts originally appeared in the comments section of my post here at The Way of Improvement Leads Home, but I thought his remarks were worth turning into a separate post.

Here it is:

Prof. Laats is certainly correct that evangelical institutions, strapped as they are for cash, competing with each other for students, fearful of any bad publicity (especially the kind that leads to folk inside the community doubting your soundness), and etc., leads these institutions (schools, and local churches, too) to be very skittish about political mind-fields. And he’s also right that the communities connected to these institutions (parents, donors, etc.) lean largely right: nostalgic, pro-business, militarist, with some degree of ambivalent tolerance for prejudiced individuals associated with the community (while sincerely officially condemning such attitudes), and so forth.

What that means is, as schools, and as faculty (usually), you’re not going to hear strident condemnations of Donald Trump even from those who personally are appalled by him, whereas more latitude would be granted the (usually rare) crotchety professor who might use their classroom to launch into an anti-Hillary rant. There would be a wide range of personal or small group conversations, of course.

More, I suspect a lot of evangelical faculty who personally find Trump and his politics unacceptable, are nevertheless sympathetic to some evangelical motives for voting Trump, just as they can sympathize with more consistently leftist evangelicals who deplore Hillary’s militarism and neo-liberalism, but who felt conscience-bound to vote for her.

I know, for myself that while I mentioned the contest several times before and after the election, in class, I restricted myself to 1) general discussions of recent developments that might throw light on the election; 2) explanations of the electoral college; 3) brief recommendations of books and articles explaining Trump supporters and their motives; 4) a discussion of how tight a connection there is between Supreme Court appointments, the party affiliation of the justices, and their decisions on hot questions; and 5) a quick look at the map and the electoral statistics right after the election. These were very brief–5 to 10 minutes, at most. Almost always, these were student-initiated mini-discussions that led to brief departures from the task of the day.

I certainly did not advocate voting for any candidate or offer arguments for why voting for a candidate was unacceptable. I marveled at trump’s success at times, but my only extended meditation came in conjunction with a discussion of the rise of Andrew Jackson and populism, which was on the syllabus for that day.

My reasons for all this have more to do with my job description (historian) and the time constraints of the semester which militate against off-topic discussions. I also don’t want my students thinking of me in political terms. I have my thoughts, but my role in their life is as a fair and unbiased conduit of things out of the past. I don’t want them to even suspect I may have an agenda, less because I’m afraid of a backlash than because it would undermine my effectiveness as a teacher. That said, if a student asked, I would honestly answer any question about my commitments or political behavior (though i might ask that we defer the answer till post-class, so as not to get off-topic).

So, my sense, for my school, at least, was that if we had any impact on the election, it was by not making our college an inhospitable place for your typical garden-variety white evangelical student. I suspect if we had tried to do that, we would have alienated rather than converted many of them. Election seasons aren’t always the best times for those kinds of polemics–minds are usually closing as polling day approaches. The fact is, evangelicalism is what it is, and faculty at evangelical schools have a hard enough time getting students to think about just war theory, appreciate Dickenson, and know what was in Hamilton’s reports, and so forth. We can help them understand their world, we can encourage certain perspectives that follow from bringing the Bible to bear on that understanding, but we cannot–and, I believe, should not–be demanding people vote one way or another, or condemning them for voting as they do, or creating atmospheres of one kind or another directed at their political beliefs.

What I want, from my liberal and conservative students both, is that they become more aware of the roots and effects of their choices, their parallels and precedents, and have some awareness, perhaps, of the paradoxes, problems, unintended consequences and such that will attend the various choices they make in life–political and otherwise. Most of them are not mature enough nor have they nuanced enough worldviews yet to really do that, but I hope I’m planting questions, hints and suggestions they can dredge up later, when it seems more relevant to them.

The Author’s Corner with Andrea Turpin

ANewMoralVision.jpgAndrea Turpin is Assistant Professor of History at Baylor University. This interview is based on her new book, A New Moral Vision: Gender, Religion, and the Changing Purposes of American Higher Education, 1837–1917 (Cornell University Press, 2016).

JF: What led you to write A New Moral Vision?

ATDuring my PhD program at Notre Dame I was reading up on the changing role of religion in American higher education when I noticed something quite striking: the leading books on that topic hardly mentioned women at all. This widespread omission in an otherwise excellent body of scholarship was stunning because American women first entered higher education in large numbers during the exact decades when more and more leading colleges and universities abolished required religious instruction and worship: the 1870s through the 1910s. I wanted to find out how these concurrent trends interacted, and what effects that interaction had on the education of both sexes and the subsequent ways male and female graduates shaped American society.

JF: In 2 sentences, what is the argument of A New Moral Vision?

AT: A New Moral Vision argues that a group of reformers I call “evangelical pragmatists” led the initial push for women to enter American higher education in the decades before the Civil War, but that in the changed intellectual environment after the war leaders of trendsetting men’s, women’s, and coeducational colleges and universities all drew on women’s new presence in higher education to articulate a compelling alternative to previous evangelical approaches to student moral formation. In place of fostering conversion, these religiously liberal educators sought to foster in students of both sexes a surprisingly more gendered ideal of character and service than had earlier evangelical educators of either men or women, and this new moral vision expanded graduates’ opportunities in some ways but restricted them in others, which contributed significantly to the changing shape of American public life.

JF: Why do we need to read A New Moral Vision?

ATIf you’re an American historian, you need to read it because it makes the case for the centrality of higher education to the development of American culture, hopefully in a way that will be useful for teaching and research in a wide variety of fields within American history. For example, it explains how the contours of separate male and female cultures of public service during the Progressive Era trace back in part to leading participants’ undergraduate experiences. For historians of religion, the book also posits a new way of thinking about what we normally call the “secularization” of American higher education—and to some extent American culture—that I believe to be fairer to the religious liberals who oversaw this transition. For women’s and gender historians, its narrative is a striking example of the difference it makes to our understanding of the history of both sexes when we recover the role of women in aspects of American history where they have still been overlooked. The book explains how the entrance of women into higher education changed men’s higher education too and why this new reality meant that educating both sexes did not translate into as egalitarian a society as might have been expected.

Finally, I’d like to think the book will also be of interest to educated Christian laypeople for two reasons: First, it tells the story of a time and place when conservative Protestants were surprisingly more egalitarian in their gender ideals than liberal Protestants, and this fact calls into question some of our contemporary assumptions about the connections between theology and gender. Second, it provides a fuller backstory to contemporary Christian higher education by exploring the effects different approaches to that project have had in the past.

JF: When and why did you decide to become an American historian?

AT: Little-known fact: I started college as an astrophysics major! A couple months in I had a vocational de-conversion experience while staring at the board in a basement laboratory as the professor explained standard deviation. Suddenly I just saw Greek letters. I realized I didn’t want to spend my life doing that type of work, and that I preferred writing papers to doing problem sets. I loved the ideas of science, but not the practice. Fortunately, that semester I was also taking a wonderful history of western civilization class taught by Princeton professor Anthony Grafton and excellent preceptor Erika Hermanowicz (now at the University of Georgia). That experience convinced me to switch my major to history of science, which I loved. I particularly enjoyed investigating the interplay between science and religion. For my graduate work, I built on my initial interest in the history of scientific ideas by broadening out to intellectual history. Meanwhile, I chose to concentrate on American history to combat the ease with which we can take our culture for granted and assume that’s just the way things are. I wanted to help my students and readers realize that the culture we see around us is the product of a long trajectory of historical change—and that it is therefore changeable, by us. As American citizens, we have the great responsibility to discern what is good and fight to keep it and discern what is bad and fight to change it.

JF: What is your next project?

AT: My second book project is a history of women’s participation in the Protestant fundamentalist-modernist controversy of the early twentieth century, a debate whose ramifications extend into the present culture wars. My working title is A Debate of Their Own: Women in the Fundamentalist-Modernist Controversy. Even recent scholarship on this controversy has continued to focus on the beliefs and actions of men because men dominated the pulpits, periodicals, and even businesses that shaped much of the public conversation surrounding the debate. Meanwhile, historians interested in how gender played into these disputes have primarily focused on the theology of gender roles that these men articulated. Thus, even scholars concerned with the debate’s impact on women have focused on male sources. My book project examines the voices of the women themselves who entered into the religious tousle between the two parties. I ask what these women actually cared about—to what extent their concerns mirrored men’s and to what extent they voiced different priorities and took different approaches to conflict, especially as women often worked together in separate women’s organizations or auxiliaries.

JF: Thanks, Andrea.


What Happens When A Businessman Takes Over a Catholic Liberal Arts College?


You get what is happening at Mount St. Mary’s University.  Tenured faculty members get fired, critics of the president are accused of disloyalty, and a provost resigns.

Here is a taste of a recent piece at The Chronicle of Higher Education:

Mr. Naberhaus, who has publicly criticized the administration but doesn’t consider himself a “rabble rouser,” said in an interview on Monday night that a campus security officer had delivered a letter signed by the president, confiscated his computer, and escorted him to his car.

The letter, a copy of which The Chronicleobtained, said that Mr. Naberhaus owed “a duty of loyalty” to the university and that his recent, unspecified actions violated that duty and justified his firing.

“Further, because of your conduct and its impact on the university, you have been designated persona non grata,” the letter continued. “As such, you are not welcome to visit the university’s campus or to attend any university activities or sporting events on the university’s property. Failure to comply with this directive will result in legal proceedings.”

The letter, which Mr. Naberhaus believes is identical to the one Mr. Egan received, accused him of causing “considerable damage” to the university and its reputation. It also warned him not to delete any electronic documents or communications on his personal computer that relate to the university, and said the university reserved the right to take legal action against him. Mr. Naberhaus, in turn, is considering his legal options.

“I raised some concerns at faculty meetings and posted a few articles online, but I didn’t realize that was illegal,” he said.

What is Going on at Mount St. Mary’s University?


I’ve always been a fan of Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland.  I spoke there a few years ago and was really impressed with the faculty and administrators I met during the visit.

If appears that the new President at the Mount is in hot water due to a controversial retention plan.  Read all about it in this article at The Chronicle of Higher Education.  

Some of you may have been following this story, but for those who have not, it has something to do with drowning bunnies (freshmen) and putting a “Glock” to the heads of students.

Here is a taste:

E-mails and conversations about freshman-retention plans don’t typically set the world on fire. But when they appeared in the campus newspaper of Mount St. Mary’s University of Maryland last month, they thrust the small Roman Catholic campus and its president, Simon P. Newman, into a spotlight that Mr. Newman never anticipated — or wanted.

In one of the emails, which were first obtained by the student-run paper, The Mountain Echo, Mr. Newman discussed his strategy in stark terms: “My short-term goal is to have 20-25 people leave by the 25th. This one thing will boost our retention 4-5%. A larger committee or group needs to work on the details, but I think you get the objective.”

A conversation described by The Mountain Echo, said to have taken place between Mr. Newman and Gregory W. Murry, an assistant professor of history, was even more direct. According to the newspaper, the president told Mr. Murry: “This is hard for you because you think of the students as cuddly bunnies, but you can’t. You just have to drown the bunnies … put a Glock to their heads.”

Read the rest here.

What strikes me about this article is that the Catholic mission of the Mount is not mentioned.  What role does the strong Catholic mission of the Mount play in the decisions being made by the President, this controversial retention plan, and the student and faculty resistance?


David Brooks’s Vision for the University

In today’s New York Times column, Brooks laments the secularization of American higher education (has he been reading George Marsden or James Burtchaell?) and calls for more attention to moral dimensions of the humanities.  Here is a taste:

Universities are more professional and glittering than ever, but in some ways there is emptiness deep down. Students are taught how to do things, but many are not forced to reflect on why they should do them or what we are here for. They are given many career options, but they are on their own when it comes to developing criteria to determine which vocation would lead to the fullest life.

But things are changing. On almost every campus faculty members and administrators are trying to stem the careerist tide and to widen the system’s narrow definition of achievement. Institutes are popping up — with interdisciplinary humanities programs and even meditation centers — designed to cultivate the whole student: the emotional, spiritual and moral sides and not just the intellectual.

Technology is also forcing change. Online courses make the transmission of information a commodity. If colleges are going to justify themselves, they are going to have to thrive at those things that require physical proximity. That includes moral and spiritual development. Very few of us cultivate our souls as hermits. We do it through small groups and relationships and in social contexts.

In short, for the past many decades colleges narrowed down to focus on professional academic disciplines, but now there are a series of forces leading them to widen out so that they leave a mark on the full human being.

The trick is to find a way to talk about moral and spiritual things while respecting diversity. Universities might do that by taking responsibility for four important tasks.

Read the entire column here.  I am on board with Brooks here, at least in principle.

Baptists, Beer Cans, and Budget Cuts or What Small Christian Colleges Need to Do to Survive

Paul Roof was fired for appearing in this ad.

The June 2, 2014 issue of Inside Higher Ed includes three stories about controversy at Christian colleges.  I always cringe when I see articles about Christian colleges appearing in periodicals such as Inside Higher EdThe New York Times, or the Chronicle of Higher Education.  When this happens it usually means that a particular Christian college is in trouble.

(I should add here that Inside Higher Ed does a much better job than the Chronicle of Higher Education in covering Christian colleges and universities. I appreciate their effort of its editorial leadership to take seriously the place of Christian colleges on the landscape of American higher education. What follows has nothing to do with Inside Higher Ed’s coverage and everything to do with the issues facing these colleges and universities).

First up is Erskine College in Due West, SC.  Erskine is affiliated with the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church.  Some of the school’s constituency would like to have a president who is a Presbyterian (though not necessarily a Presbyterian affiliated with the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church) and others don’t seem to care as long as the president is an evangelical.  From what I have been able to tell, the college has, in recent years, sought to reclaim its evangelical identity. (This has caused a great deal of controversy).

The Board of Trustees at Erskine recently offered the presidency to a candidate who was a Baptist.  This did not go over very well with those who want the college to remain true to a distinctly Presbyterian brand of evangelicalism.  They protested and the candidate eventually took his name out of consideration for the job. Scott Jaschik covers it all here.

I know that the bylaws at some church-related colleges and universities require the board to choose a president who represents the institution’s denominational identity. For example, Baptist colleges and universities often limit their pool of potential presidential candidates to Baptists.  The same is true for many Catholic universities.  Recently Davidson College, an elite liberal arts college in North Carolina, decided not to change a college by-law that says the president must be a Presbyterian.

I have no problem with Erskine wanting to stay true to its ecclesiastical roots on this front.  But it does seem that the leadership of the college has to make some serious decisions about whether they want to maintain a distinctly Presbyterian identity. If they appeal to a larger evangelical constituency (and hire a non-Presbyterian president who might help them make that appeal) they might attract more students or a larger donor pool.  (More on this below).

Next up is Charleston Southern University and what I am calling “BeerCanGate.”  This Southern Baptist college, which also seems to be working hard at reclaiming (or perhaps sustaining) its Baptist evangelical heritage, recently fired a very popular sociology professor named Paul Roof because he allowed his image, complete with a wildly groomed mustache and beard (see above), to appear on a beer can as part of a charity to raise money for ovarian cancer.  The administration claims that Roof violated a university policy that does not allow faculty to participate in business enterprises or use their image in advertising that sheds bad light on the college.  Of course beer and Baptists don’t mix.

As a private university, Charleston Southern has every right to have rules about faculty with crazy mustaches allowing their images on beer cans.  Roof apparently violated a rule here. But does what he did really merit his firing?  How about just a slap on the wrist?  My hunch is that there is more to the story here.  Perhaps someone who knows Charleston Southern University can enlighten us a bit in the comments section below.

Finally, there is the ongoing case of Bryan College.  Last month we did a post on student dissent at the college.  At the time several people told me that these debates over creation science and strong-armed leadership should be understood in light of the fact that Bryan is facing serious enrollment declines.  Now we learn that Bryan just cut 20 positions, stopped contributing to employee retirement, and reduced the salaries of administrators.

What is happening to Bryan is not unusual among Christian colleges today.  I won’t name names, but I know of many colleges who have been forced to make cuts of this nature.  (Some have cut even more than 20 positions). The larger and wealthier Christian colleges will survive these cuts (or have survived them) and will continue to offer first-rate Christian liberal arts education.  Other Christian colleges, in order to keep the doors open, will be forced to refashion themselves into institutions focused on online education or continuing education.  Some will simply go out of business.

I am guessing that the problems at Erskine and Charleston Southern are also related to enrollment. Both schools are trying to appeal to a larger pool of prospective students.  Some folks at Erskine think they can do it by hiring a charismatic president, regardless of his connection to the school’s tradition, who might attract students.  The administration at Charleston Southern wants to make sure they don’t lose the conservative constituency who would frown upon a faculty member’s image on a beer can.

I am afraid we will read more about these schools and other Christian institutions of higher education in a forthcoming issue of Inside Higher Ed.  Stay tuned.  These problems are not going away.  The higher education marketplace is changing rapidly and it appears, sadly, that only the strong will survive.

Exiles from Eden: The Blog

Some of you may be familiar with Mark Schwehn’s Exiles from Eden: Religion and the Academic Vocation in America.  Mark’s book continues to serve as the manifesto for the Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts at Valparaiso University,  a program that Mark founded. 

It is thus only fitting that some folks affiliated with the Lilly Fellows program, including Joe Creech and Mary Beth Connolly, have started a blog called “Exiles from Eden.”

Here is what the blog is all about:

Exiles from Eden takes its name from the book of the same title by Mark Schwehn. In that book, Schwehn suggests that church-related colleges and universities offer a unique opportunity to be creative places of interaction among the values and challenges connected to teaching and scholarship in modern colleges and universities. He, and we, suggest that the pursuit of what matters most to undergraduates, graduates, and those who work in higher learning (church-related or not) is enriched by engaging ideas and practices arising from the Christian tradition. We hope that this blog will be a forum for such engagement. 

Exiles from Eden is sponsored and managed by the Lilly Fellows Program in the Humanities and the Arts, founded in 1991 to strengthen the quality and shape the character of church-related institutions of higher learning and headquartered at Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Indiana.  Exiles from Eden is not, however, a mouthpiece for the Lilly Fellows Program, and as such the views and opinions therein do necessarily express the views of the Lilly Fellows Program, its Graduate and Postdoctoral Fellows, Valparaiso University, or the schools that comprise the Lilly Fellows Program National Network of Church-Related Colleges and Universities. Furthermore, if you believe that any images, texts, or links are on these pages in violation of any copyright or trademark, please contact the Lilly Fellows Program at, and we will immediately take down the image, text, or link.

This blog is definitely worth a regular look.

No Longer Invisible

Congratulations to my colleagues Jake and Rhonda Jacobsen whose new book No Longer Invisible: Religion in University Education will be published next month with Oxford University Press.

The website of the United Methodist Church has a nice writeup on the book and their work, which included visits to 50 public and private schools of higher education. 

Here is a taste:

Religion is back on campus, but in forms that might surprise those thinking only in terms of the traditional roles of organized churches in higher education.

The science-oriented Massachusetts Institute of Technology has hired its first paid chaplain, overseeing 22 volunteer chaplains, whose goal is to make sure students of all faiths are comfortable with each other.

At the University of Southern California, a young Hindu lawyer is dean of the Office of Religious Life; his predecessor was a female rabbi.

Even the Mormon church’s Brigham Young University has a prayer room for the small number of Muslim students who have enrolled there, taking comfort in the school’s conservative values.

These are among the findings from two professors at Messiah College in Grantham, Pa., who spent four years visiting 50 public and private schools of higher education, ranging from small community colleges to large research universities.