5 Comments
Jun 5Liked by John Hawthorne

That's a fascinating tool that the Chronicle put together. One thing I've noticed in 8 years at my CCCU school -- which has undergone some serious turmoil and culture wars recently (and may not recover) which has forced some internal arguments about what it is to be a Christian university -- is that leaders will invoke who are our peers in different ways to suit their purpose. E.g., when it comes to why we pay our faculty so little compared to other local universities (whose faculty also have to live in the same expensive region), or when someone notes that our most common cross-applications are with the local public R1 university, they will disregard those as our peers ("we're not really in the same league") and focus on our Christian identity and play up our CCCU connections, as if really, they form our peers. But when it comes to discounting tuition to "stay competitive," or our broader academic reputation (e.g. in the US News 'national universities' category), or the proliferation of our 'professional' programs offered, or in constantly using consultants to hire the next VP and (of course) set their administrators' compensation to remain competitive, suddenly it's about the larger landscape of higher ed and what non-Christian schools are doing, and our Christian identity or CCCU peers are not relevant. When they have to wring their hands about how enrollments are falling, they'll cite national trends about higher ed, or our region's declining high school graduation rate; but if we get some honor or a faculty member gets a big grant they might be quick to highlight that we were the only CCCU school to get it. And when it comes to seeking more donors, we might point out how well other private colleges nearby are doing with building nice new buildings etc.; but no, the donors we court are mostly just the deeply connected CCCU evangelical types (of which there are, of course, so few, particularly since most of those give to the Wheatons and Biolas and Liberties and Hillsdales of the world).

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I agree. National peers when paying administrators. CCCU when paying faculty. National when describing broad trends in higher ed. CCCU when talking student life or chapel.

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What was the basis of leaving out the three denominations you ignored?

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My professional focus has been on colleges associated with the CCCU. Those other schools are fine, but that’s not the question I was trying to answer.

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