FPU President Harold Haak attends conference on the future of higher education
Leaders from Fresno Pacific University joined nearly 1,000 representatives from around the world February 7-9 for the 2001 Forum on Christian Higher Education, an event commemorating the 25thanniversary of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU).
The conference celebrated the Christian heritage shared by the council’s 100 member institutions in North America and 50 affiliate campuses in 17 nations, while challenging participants to look at the future of Christian higher education. “The forum was a time for reflecting on where we’ve been, but the primary focus was on where we’re going,” said Harold Haak, president of FPU. “Our campus representatives benefited from valuable professional development workshops, peer networking opportunities and dynamic plenary sessions celebrating scholarship, faith and service.” Haak was joined by several other FPU administrators at the conference.
During the forum’s opening session, CCCU President Robert C. Andringa linked the future of Christian colleges and universities with globalization and racial harmony. “We must be more global in our thinking, praying, planning and actions,” he said. “We must be intentional and consistent about advancing racial harmony and diversity. The biblical mandate is without question.”
Other keynote addresses featured Millard and Linda Fuller, co-founders of Habitat for Humanity; Leonard Sweet, professor of evangelism at Drew University; Lillian Callis Barger, founder and president of The Damaris Project; and Chuck Colson, founder and chairman of Prison Fellowship Ministries.
The pervasive theme developed by the keynote speakers was the future of Christian higher education in a society that favors modern thought. Sweet admonished his listeners to keep faith a solid, predominant theme of their institutions despite claims that Christianity is outdated and intolerant. “Part of the challenge of leadership for the 21stcentury is that we ground ourselves in who we are as Christians—independent of what culture is doing.”
Colson discussed the balance of living the temporary human experience and acknowledging our eternal spirituality. While keeping things of spiritual significance in mind, Christians should still be relevant to society. “As people in Christian higher education, you have to not only understand our faith, but also figure out how it relates to the world in which we live,” he said. Colson included examples of Christians who have a positive impact on culture by using intellect and reason rather than mere defensive rhetoric and protest.
Participants also chose from nearly 40 peer and topical workshops on market research, faculty development, spiritual formation, racial harmony, Christian scholarship, globalization and nontraditional educational initiatives such as adult degree completion and distance learning. Racial harmony and globalization were again emphasized, along with marketing the Christian college experience. Attendees were summoned to promote racial harmony on their campuses by changing their institution’s structure and taking personal initiative in the reconciliation process. The theme of globalization was lived out through the presence of nearly 30 international delegates representing 12 nations. Maguire Associates presented results of its market research study suggesting council campuses begin reaching high school sophomores, emphasize quality scholarship and find new ways to retain current students beyond the sophomore year.