A few years ago, if I had asked you was there any daylight between your vision for the school and Pat Robertson's vision, what would you have said?
What our hope was for the school was that the school really could become the embodiment of this institution that really lived out this "every tribe and every tongue" approach to education.
We really did believe Regent had, and perhaps still does, a unique opportunity to represent the fullness of the kingdom of God. I don't think T.D. Jakes being a distinguished professor at Regent would have happened a few years ago. I think that was all part of this intentionality to reach out and say if we can be a color-blind community of Christ and academics leading with excellence, it would really be a rich experience. A lot of folks really caught that vision. We may have missed an opportunity. But perhaps it's something that will carry forward.
Your resignation opens up many personal questions. Is this the ultimate reset button? Where are you at?
There were several offers that came in almost right away. We feel as though it is a good time to step back. We want to stay in kingdom-minded business. God has called us to have an impact on the broader kingdom in America. We don't want to jump into something too soon.
In the last few years, Christian higher education has been in a sweet spot in terms of enrollment. But we're seeing storm clouds—declining enrollments, rising expenses, huge debt levels for students. How do schools address these issues and make the case that a private Christian college is worth the expense?
One feeling is that there will be consolidation within the historically Christian colleges and universities.
What I'd like to see is that the schools would really zero on what makes them distinct, unique, and effective. We're not blessing the kingdom if we're not preparing students effectively for life and work. I'm not sure that we're doing that at the highest levels at all Christian colleges and universities.
It's the right time for those schools to say, you know what, we're not going to try to be all things to all people. We really need to broaden and tell our story better in terms of Christian scholarship.
The scandal of an evangelical mind really is past. But don't tell that to the general public. The thought pattern still is that somehow, there's this blind faith that glazes over any scholarship that's happening in Christian higher education, and of course that's not the case. There are some brilliant Christian scholars working across the globe at the very highest levels.
One of the things I really believe Christian higher ed should begin doing is being much more intentional about saying, "These are the values that matter in America."
We need to be in the forefront of these founding values and making sure that they are passed onto the next generation. That's my overview of what needs to happen in Christian higher ed. My hope is that Christian higher ed will consolidate, refine, and be much better positioned in 10 years than we are today.
What's job No. 1?
One of the things that Christian higher ed has not done well is not just working collaboratively within, but also finding those bridges into the broader community.
Look at the success of The Bible miniseries that was recently produced. It tells me that there's still an appetite in America to address these kinds of issues. So I believe that Christian higher ed has a huge opportunity to intersect journalistically, in media, and other ways.