The crisis situation in our church colleges grows not from financial problems, limited and inadequate plant facilities, the severe difficulty of recruiting and retaining faculty personnel capable of distinguished teaching, not from the struggle to maintain full accreditation, not from the need for a dynamic program of salesmanship and public relations. These and many other problems are very real in our church colleges and must be met with every possible effort at solution. But the most theatening condition involves none of these. The basic problem, rather, is expressed by what an executive secretary of a large philanthropic corporation said recently: “If the church colleges would dare to be loyal to the basic purpose of their existence they would lack neither students nor finance.” In elaborating he made it clear that the “basic purpose” of the church-related college is not education per se, but education modified by the qualifying adjective “Christian.”

Wherever it serves, the Church’s success or effectiveness depends on the quality of its leadership. This is true in the church college, for here the Church is at work in education. Obviously college administrators do not consciously try to bypass the reason for the church college’s existence, nor do they purpose to treat lightly the serious responsibility of vigorously promoting the Christian faith on campus. The crisis that prevails, rather—and it is one which makes the difference between state-sponsored and church-sponsored education—has developed because college leaders have become absorbed in promoting education apart from any Christian emphasis. They neglect the modifying Christian factor in education. In some instances such neglect may be due to ineffective Christian leadership by the administration. More often this critical state has developed because administrators are too busy with other things to make the college’s impact on student life positively and vigorously Christian.

When the directors of a business corporation select a president, they choose someone whose fitness for the job is closely related to their product. He must know how to produce the company’s commodity. In Christian education the charter of a church college defines that school’s business. The charter usually states in specific words that the incorporated college of the Church is to educate not only people, but Christian people. This is paramount in fulfilling the basic purpose of the church college. In selecting a president, then, the trustees of a church college must write high on the list of qualifications for a president the ability and dedication to train not only graduates but Christian graduates. In principle the Christian college cannot justify its existence apart from thorough loyalty to the responsibility of producing educated Christians. When degrees are conferred and diplomas awarded on graduation day, the church college proves loyal to its charter and justifies its existence not only by qualifying each graduate to receive an academic degree but also by bringing him to the time of graduation as a committed Christian. Becoming a committed Christian is a vital part of the educative process in the program of the church college.

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Because of this special function of the church college, the president’s foremost responsibility is wise and vigorous promotion of the Christian faith on campus. He cannot delegate this responsibility. Certainly he must enlist the service of many others in discharging this major duty of his office, but the president himself must stand in the forefront of this endeavor. To the long list of what is expected of any college president, this one of promoting the Christian faith among faculty and student body is added to the duties of the church-college president. He must have a warm heart toward God and a passionate concern for the spiritual development of his students. Students must receive a lasting impression of the president’s earnest solicitude for their Christian growth. More than is usually acknowledged, it is the president who sets the Christian tone on campus. What he is in his own life and what he does in his role as religious leader profoundly influence both faculty and students. Furthermore, the president who fully supports the “basic purpose” of existence of the church college jealously guards a sound Christian emphasis in establishing school policies and campus activities. Nothing is permitted to overshadow the claims of the Christian faith. Such a president recognizes that a weak and inadequate academic program is inconsistent with sound Christian principles. To allow low standards of scholarship, poor teaching in the classroom, deficient laboratory and library facilities, is to disqualify the church college from performing its proper Christian role. Academic responsibility goes hand in hand with Christian responsibility. One supplements and supports the other. The church-college president has strong and balanced convictions concerning the correlation of academic and Christian phases of education. But one conviction distinguishes him from presidents of secular schools: his insistence on academic excellence never lessens his sense of responsibility for vigorously promoting the Christian faith.

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The decline of effective Christian emphasis in church colleges today is tragic both because of the grave condition of a secularized society and because of the impotence of a confused Church. American society makes a god of material values, and the Church with its declining spiritual power is unprepared to evangelize the people. Not since the founding of our nation has there been such stubborn resistance to Christ as the Lord of Life. In many respects church colleges have a strategic opportunity to prepare and to supply proper and special leadership for America in this time of crisis. Will these colleges perceive what they can do to awaken people to the right and eternal values? Will these colleges undertake a revival of personal, experimental religion on their campuses that prepares students for dedicated citizenship and spiritual leadership?—Dr. CONWAY BOATMAN, President Emeritus, Union College, Barbourville, Kentucky.

THE CRITICAL CONFLICT—Too few students see the real, critical conflict between the assumptions of Christianity and those of secularism. Many students must have their faith severely disturbed before it becomes worth very much.—Dr. R. K. MEINERS, Assistant Professor of English, Arizona State University.

ROLE OF THE COLLEGE—If it is true that the home and church no longer effectively found the young in basic Christian teachings about God, the world, and man, … the college, in its intellectual functions, may have a unique responsibility.—Dr. TUNIS ROMEIN, Professor of Philosophy, Erskine College, Due West, South Carolina.

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