Five tenured professors were among seventeen faculty members at Grand Canyon University who received notice May 14 that their contracts were not renewed.
Faculty had been immune to major changes at GCU that began in January 2004 when private investors created the first for-profit Christian college in the United States. Students and staff suffered cutbacks in more than 100 staff positions and in scholarship programs as the school slowly morphed from a higher-education model to a corporate model.
Dr. Maxie Burch, associate professor of Christian studies at GCU for the past eight years, was among the five tenured professors whose contracts were not renewed. He said that while he was hopeful about the changes at first, he had philosophical differences with much of what took place.
"The driver for the university was no longer its Christian identify, but profit," he told CT.
He said the past year of uncertainty led most faculty members to seek other employment, and that while receiving a letter in the mail indicating his contract had not been renewed was disconcerting to Burch, it was not a shock.
What was shocking, he said, was the manner in which he came to understand his contract was not renewed. He couldn't log on to campus e-mail Friday, May 13, and was eventually escorted off campus, leaving his books and papers behind in his office, where he still can't access them because the locks were changed.
"The troubling thing to me is the way in which these 17 people were let go," said Bob Andringa, president of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He told CT, "It seems to me a more Christ-honoring way could have been designed. That reflects poorly on them."
But, according to Michael Clifford, vice chairman of GCU, the ...