What’s Distinctive about Christian Colleges?

Bethel License PlateMy institution, Bethel University, is currently in the early stages of drafting its next master plan, a document meant to guide the development of new facilities and the renovation of old ones (among other things). As part of the planning process, an outside consultant was on campus to meet with different constituent groups and get a better sense of what Bethel is and what its people think it could become.

At one of the two meetings I attended, the consultant asked us to think about how we would describe Bethel’s distinctiveness, framing the question in terms of student outcomes (“Every Bethel student should…”). He cautioned that almost all of the small, private colleges (many of them faith-based) that he helps tend to say the same things (mostly variations on “Small class sizes” or “Professors know students’ names”) and so pushed us to identify what most sets our institution apart.

For Bethel alumni, faculty, or students who read this blog (or for those who’ve attended or taught at similar Christian colleges), let me ask you to comment with your answer to the question he gave us:

Complete the sentence – Every Bethel student should ___________________.

As an example: my initial suggestion was to quote the first principle stated by the school’s founder, John Alexis Edgren: Every Bethel student should be conscious of a real conversion to Jesus Christ. Though I’m honestly not sure whether or not we view that as a goal for our adult and graduate student population, since those programs reach out more broadly to a religiously plural population than do our day college and seminary programs.

What would you suggest?

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