In Luce Tua

Success in Higher Education

Every year around this time, high school seniors make decisions about where they will go to college. Whether their choice is to enroll at a large, flagship state university or at a small liberal arts college, or at one of the many options somewhere in between, they are making a decision that is likely to have a significant impact on their lives. And as the cost of higher education continues to rise, these students and their families are anxious to know exactly what that impact will be. Questions about the value of higher education are often answered in terms of the job possibilities that a college degree opens up or the increased income earning potential of college graduates. But there are other answers to this question that, although more difficult to explain or measure, are no less important. There are many purposes of higher education beyond career advancement, among them: education for democratic citizenship, acquiring the virtues appropriate to the life of a scholar, and the love of learning for its own sake.

Christian institutions of higher education have their own unique answers to these questions. In September 2014, representatives from universities and colleges in the Lilly Network of Church-Related Colleges and Universities gathered at Xavier University in New Orleans for the Lilly Fellows Program Workshop for Senior Administrators. The topic of the workshop was “From Mission to Meaningful Lives.” Participants discussed how each school defines student success and how each schools’ theological traditions shape that definition. They also heard two plenary addresses, both of which are included in this issue.

In an address written by Ursinus College president Bobby Fong, who passed away several weeks before the workshop, and read by Valparaiso University’s Mark Schwehn, participants were asked to reflect on how they can help students come to know the world, to know themselves, and to know God. In her address, Patricia O’Connell Killen, Academic Vice President of Gonzaga University, explored how church-related schools can translate their missions into specific strategies for defining and achieving post-­baccalaureate success.

The 2014 Workshop for Senior Administrators was held in conjunction with the Twenty-fourth Annual National Conference of the Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts. The conference’s theme, “A Future City, A New Creation: Equal on All Sides,” highlighted the meaning of the apocalyptic in the Christian tradition. The conference featured the debut of the art exhibit, “Between the Shadow and the Light,” which is the result of the R5 project. Art professors from universities in the United States joined with artists from South Africa to visit sites around Johannesburg and Cape Town, where they experienced the realities of life today in South Africa. The exhibit features artwork inspired by these experiences, and a few of these works are featured on the front and back covers of this issue.

Also included in this issue are photographs of Bethel University (St. Paul) art professor Kenneth Steinbach’s 2013 exhibit, “Under the Rose.” The exhibit centered on a full-scale model of a Predator drone, ornamented with laser-cuttings based on patterns found in Islamic architecture, medieval Christian confessionals, headscarves of Somali school girls living in Minneapolis, and camouflage patterns used by US forces in Afghanistan. For his body of artistic work, Steinbach was awarded the 2014 Arlin G. Meyer Prize in Visual Art.

The word “apocalypse” evokes images of destruction and death, but it also offers the hope of rebirth and renewal. As creation itself groans as if in childbirth, awaiting the time when it will be transformed, we each await our own transformation through God’s grace (Romans 8:22–23). At Christian colleges we cannot make this transformation happen, but we can invite our students into the process of change and offer them a community in which they might grow in their understanding of creation and discover the person who God is calling them to be within it.


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