Many students at Christian college are closet adherents of anti-Christian attitudes.

We Should Spell the College V. I. P. S-t-u-d-e-n-t

As an avid crossword puzzle fan, hopelessly hooked on the habit and needing at least one a day to satisfy my addiction, I confess to a feeling of satisfaction when I encounter the clue “College V.I.P.” accompanied by four blank squares. That allows me, in a moment of professional pride, to print out the word D-E-A-N. Yet, having been involved in Christian higher education for a quarter of a century, I realize that my answer, despite its ego-reinforcement, is incorrect and that the puzzle maker should have provided seven spaces for the more appropriate response: S-T-U-D-E-N-T. For I am persuaded that, of all of us who belong to the community of post-secondary academe, the most important members by far are those who make up the student body.

The overarching purpose of the Christian liberal arts college is not to perpetuate its own existence as an institution, or to preserve intact the religious tradition of the elders, or to protect a culturally dictated life style, or to provide a safe haven from worldly temptations, or to prove that evangelicals are as good at scholarship as anyone else, or even to always please its constituents. Its raison d’etre is the students and their development. Everything else—including facilities and curriculum—and everyone else—including faculty and administrators—are secondary and subordinate to this. That college fulfills its mission best that most effectively provides opportunities for students to grow.

We must focus on the young men and women who matriculate at these schools. Who are they? What are their needs? What can the Christian college do for them that is ...

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