Saturday, September 26, 2015

Rick Ostrander on the State of the CCCU

Over at The Pietist Schoolman, Chris Gehrz interviews Rick Ostrander, the VP for Academic Affairs of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU).  

Ostrander answers of a few of Gerhz's questions about the recent resignation of Eastern Mennonite University and Goshen College from the CCCU.  As many of you know, the issue was same-sex marriage.

Here is a taste of the interview:

Just how much of a debate was there? The CCCU board announcement indicated that 25% of member presidents opposed even affiliate status for the two Mennonite schools, while 20% supported maintaining EMU and Goshen as full members.
We clearly have a diversity of members. That’s what one should expect from a large, diverse association comprised of a wide variety of Christian traditions. But there wasn’t really a “debate” on the issue because the results were gleaned from individual private conversations between board members and CCCU presidents. Also, it’s important to keep in mind that this was not a scientific survey. The published results simply reflect the board members’ attempts to summarize and categorize what were varied and often open-ended conversations with presidents about the appropriate identity and boundaries of the CCCU.
Last week WORLD Magazine called this “the biggest challenge” in the four-decade history of the CCCU, with historian of Christian higher education William Ringenberg suggesting that it was almost as serious a crisis as the secularization of Christian colleges in the period 1920-1960. Is that overstating the significance of what happened, or was this truly a landmark moment for the CCCU? 
It’s difficult for me to comment without knowing his full remarks, but I do not think this particular moment rivals the significance of the period last century that you reference for Christian higher education as a whole. As it relates to the CCCU, we were simply dealing with questions about marriage and human sexuality that are being increasingly discussed in our culture, and that other Christian organizations will be facing (if they are not already). Hopefully we have modeled to other organizations how Christians can engage in vigorous discussions with conviction and charity.