Note from the Symposium Director

In all our prior Symposia we have later produced a small volume of Proceedings. But, for 2014 we are not doing that, as such. There were concerns about matters of copyright and other questions, so the speakers made presentations, not papers with responses, as in former conferences. Thus, we have a different sort of permanent artifact this time.

Here is a link to my brief introduction to the Symposium and then Peter Kuryla’s excellent summary and critique of the conference and its theme. We are very grateful to Professor Kuryla for his willingness to take on this assignment. In the absence of printed papers, we still can get a sense of what was presented and discussed.

Further, as to permanent artifact of a different kind, you will see below a video of the panel discussion between the main presenters. We have edited that discussion from its original ninety minutes to a more manageable thirty-six minutes. We are delighted to be able to show the lively discussion that went on about the important theme of the future of the church-related college.

Ronald Wells




The Future of the Church-Related College

Maryville College, October 24 & 25, 2014


Friday, October 24


2:00 - 3:00 - Registration

3:00 - 3:30 - Welcome and Opening Remarks

3:30 – 5:30 - The Changed Context of Higher Education

Convener/Chair: Crystal Colter, Maryville College
Presenters: Rhonda and Douglas Jacobsen, Messiah College
“Pluriform Religion and the Future of Church-Related Colleges”
Abstract: In the closing decades of the twentieth century, church-related colleges and universities could position themselves as places that provided clear and distinct alternatives to the mainstream “secular” academy.   The larger educational context for religion has now changed dramatically. This presentation will provide a brief historical overview of religion’s place in American higher education, describe the current status of religion on a variety of campuses nationwide, and then explain the new reality of “pluriform religion” that is currently reshaping all of higher education. The old storyline of faith versus secularity can no longer define the mission and identity of church-related colleges and universities, and these institutions must reflect anew on how to define their distinctive roles within the overall matrix of American higher learning.


7:00 – 9:00 - The Vocation of the Church-Related College

Convener/Chair: Sharon Youngs, Oak Ridge Presbyterian Church
Presenter: William (Beau) Weston, Centre College
“Education in the Presbyterian Tradition is Distinctive”
Abstract: Presbyterian colleges in America have always operated in a competitive, plural market. Moreover, Presbyterian colleges in America have always served communities well beyond the denomination. The vocation of Presbyterian education, at all levels, is to train stewards of the whole society. This mission is as necessary today as it ever was. Even the most secularized Presbyterian colleges show the traces of this distinctive mission in the DNA and current practice.


Saturday, OCTOBER 25

8:30 – 10:30 - The Meaning of Church to College and College to Church

Convener/Chair: Anne McKee, Maryville College
Presenter: Steven Haynes, Rhodes College
“Back to the Future: Reassessing the Future of the Church-Related College”
Abstract: This will be a look back at the Rhodes Consultation on the Future of the Church-Related College (1995-2004) by the leader of that endeavor. What has changed in the nearly twenty years since the Consultation convened junior faculty at dozens of church-related colleges and universities from many denominations and traditions? Does the future of church-related institutions of higher learning look as promising as it did in the early 1990s? Is there a new generation of “junior” faculty who are ready to guide these institutions into the future? Are the challenges primarily cultural, intellectual, religious? These and other questions will be explored from the perspective of 2014.


11:00 – 12:45 - Panel Discussion: What is the Future of the Church-Related College?

Convener/Chair: Lisa Diller, Southern Adventist University
Discussants: Elizabeth Bulette (Maryville College Board of Directors), Steven Haynes, Douglas Jacobsen, Rhonda Jacobsen, William Weston


2:00 – 3:00 - Summing Up: What Have We Heard?

Presenter: Peter Kuryla, Belmont University