Pietist Colleges: Quick Facts

Our series on models of Christian higher education inspired by a “usable past” is treading water a bit this week while I gear up for classes.

In the most recent post, I surveyed American denominations with roots in Pietism, plus the colleges and universities that they founded. Next week I hope to have a more complete post that returns to my line of argument and asks why so few of those who write histories or mission/identity documents for the twenty-four schools I mentioned view Pietism as providing a “usable past.”

For now, enjoy ten fun facts about the colleges and universities founded by denominations rooted in Pietism:

Founders Hall, University of La Verne
Founders Hall, University of La Verne - Creative Commons (Phu Son)

1. Employing the categories used by U.S. News & World Report in its college rankings… Two of these schools are “national universities” (Trinity International, University of La Verne), six are “national liberal arts colleges” (Albright, Bridgewater, Juniata, McPherson, Moravian, Salem), nine are “regional universities” (Ashland, Augsburg, Bethel, Elmhurst, Fresno Pacific, North Park, Otterbein, Shenandoah, University of Indianapolis), and seven are “regional colleges” (Elizabethtown, Grace, Huntington, Lebanon Valley, Manchester, Messiah, Tabor).

2. The vast majority of these schools were founded as seminaries between 1850 and 1900, and only later developed into four-year colleges. The two oldest predate the United States of America (Moravian and Salem); the two youngest were founded during or just after World War II (Fresno Pacific and Grace).

3. Over half are located in the Midwest (13), with four in Indiana (Grace, Huntington, Manchester, U. Indianapolis), three in Illinois (Elmhurst, North Park, Trinity Int’l), and two each in Kansas (McPherson, Tabor), Minnesota (Augsburg, Bethel), and Ohio (Ashland, Otterbein).

4. But the state with the most such colleges (6) is Pennsylvania (Albright, Elizabethtown, Juniata, Lebanon Valley, Messiah, Moravian).

5. Altogether, these schools’ median undergraduate enrollment is 1781, with four going over 3000 students (U. Indy, Bethel, Augsburg, Elmhurst) and three under 1000 (McPherson, Salem, Tabor).

Benson Great Hall at Bethel University
Benson Great Hall, Bethel University

6. According to the 2011 U.S. News ratings… All but two (McPherson, Trinity Int’l) rank in the top tier for their category of institutions. Four are in the Top 10: Messiah (#4), Elizabethtown (#5), and Lebanon Valley (#7) among Northern regional colleges; Huntington is #8 among regional colleges in the Midwest. Five more make their categories’ Top 25: Elmhurst (#12), Otterbein (#16), Bethel (#17), and Augsburg (#22) among Midwestern regional universities; and Manchester (#18) among regional colleges in the Midwest.

7. Over half (14) also make the 2011 Forbes magazine “Best Colleges” list, which doesn’t differentiate by category and claims to focus more on results than reputation. None crack the top 100, but Salem (#141), Juniata (#143), Moravian (#146), Lebanon Valley (#152), and Bethel (#177) make it into the next hundred.

8. One-third of the schools are members of the evangelical Council for Christian Colleges and Universities: Bethel, Fresno Pacific, Grace, Huntington, Messiah, North Park, Tabor, and Trinity Int’l.

9. Four are members of the more broadly ecumenical Lilly Fellows Program National Network: Augsburg, Bethel, Messiah, and the University of Indianapolis. (Bethel and Messiah are the only two with membership in both Christian/church-related college groups.)

10. The most popular team names: Eagles (Ashland, Bridgewater, Juniata — and while Augsburg’s teams are called the Auggies, their mascot is also an eagle) and Bluejays/Blue Jays (Elizabethtown, Elmhurst, Tabor). Most popular school colors: blue (13), white (9), gold/yellow (8), and red/crimson (7).

And I am now officially putting off writing my Modern Europe syllabus… Back to the grindstone.

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