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[191] Gutsy Deans

If you are an academic administrator in a Christian college it is reasonable to assume you would like a genuine faith-and-learning environment to be the context of the academic enterprise. If you wish to do this, there are two actions you will need to take. First, you will need to be highly visible in your pro-active push for a true integration of Christianity and the academic bodies of knowledge. You will need to advocate publicly for a Christian worldview.

And you better be fearless about this first item, because in most Christian colleges there is a portion of the faculty that are totally stuck in compartmentalization—the notion that if they are Christians and do a solid academic job in the work compartment, that should be acceptable. If you are in a less evangelical setting, or one that has lacked genuine top-down Christian leadership, you will almost certainly have faculty who feel comfortable openly challenging that faith-and-learning direction.

And that faculty may well include veteran, tenured instructors.

This leads me to the second thing you will need to do. You will need to make things very uncomfortable for any faculty to “buck” the direction you are going.

It takes a gutsy dean (or president) to do this, but if you do not have the courage to take action #2, you might well reconsider even launching #1.

So how do you make #2 happen? You can begin by doing everything you can to promote a faith-and-learning atmosphere—creating courses, emphasizing it at faculty meetings, encouraging Christian worldview publishing, etc. You need to run the ball consistently toward the faith-and learning goal line. In doing so, you will be a major encouragement to the Christian scholars in your employ as well as sending a message to the dissidents that this where the train is heading. Secondly, you can incorporate Christian worldview as a criterion for evaluation. You certainly want to make it a major criterion for tenure or promotion. You can also require faculty to submit a document on how they see the Christian faith informing their discipline. This will create some discomfort where it needs to be.

I am many things but not naïve. You will not bring all the dissidents to your side. That just does not happen in a divided campus. But you can change the way the wind is blowing, and when you do that you will notice that the dissidents will be less vocal in their objections. The resistance will be there, but it will not be as loud. You may see some faculty leave, but they will be people who can easily be replaced with competent Christian scholars.

It will take courage. Guts. More than I have seen among a number of alleged Christian presidents and deans. But it is your calling. DC

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