Unchanging Mission, Changing World On My Mind

With the launch of the Forward campaign, the Cairn community focuses its attention on one of the University’s key strategic goals: expanding academic programs that will benefit our students and enhance the fulfillment of the mission. Through exploration and development of new degrees and majors, the University is providing new opportunities for students. This expansion is a stated priority endorsed by the Board of Trustees, supported by donors, and embraced by current students.

Over the next three years, Cairn will add to our list of recently launched programs. Since 2010, we have added new degrees and majors in English, history, psychology, intercultural studies, liberal arts, and more. We have expanded graduate degrees and programs, such as the MBA and the MS in Nonprofit Leadership. Now, at the beginning of our second century, the University turns its attention to the areas of science, technology, the arts, and criminal justice, alongside the development of new graduate degrees that build on existing undergraduate programs. Our approach to expanding academic programs is strategic, incremental, and mission-minded, designed to attract and educate the kind of students gifted and inspired to serve Christ in the church, society, and the world.

A world in flux

Cairn is committed to sending professionally competent and well-educated graduates into a marketplace and workforce in continual flux. In order to fulfill our mission, students must be prepared to meet the changing needs of the church, society, and the world. Given today’s changing needs and contexts, Cairn finds itself facing new emerging opportunities.

Seizing these opportunities requires an institutional environment that is nimble, flexible, and innovative in its management and development of program offerings.

Our institution has been wired this way from its beginning. From its founding, Cairn has creatively addressed the changing needs of the world and the men and women we serve. Today, we know that the areas of science, technology, the arts, criminal justice, and public service are more than just trending interests of prospective students. These are areas of great need for ministries, businesses, and governments, and professionals in these fields significantly shape and influence our societies and cultures. In light of our mission and our calling as an institution, Cairn has great opportunity and great responsibility to develop programs responsive to these contexts.

Missional gap-filling

These new programs are also important because they advance our mission. We cannot fulfill this mission to the greatest degree possible if we do not expand our offerings. If we are serious about placing graduates in the church, society, and the world, then we must also be serious about moving forward into new areas of study. Cairn cannot missionally afford to have gaps in our academic offerings that hinder us from addressing these needs and targeting areas of significant influence and opportunity.

Consistent with our current approach, the instruction and curriculum of these new programs will manifest an abiding commitment to the truth that God is creator and sustainer of all that we are, have, and do. These new majors seek to instill in students a right understanding of God, themselves, and the world in which they live; habitual integration of biblical truth in all areas of life; and the importance of bringing every thought captive in obedience to Christ in whom all things hold together — professional practice and academic ideas not excepted.

While educating students in new areas of study, Cairn’s new programs will continue to teach, both implicitly and explicitly, the importance of vocation. Students will have opportunities to practice what they are learning through service projects, missions work, practicums, and internships. They will enter the fields of public service, technology, the sciences, and the arts characterized by both a biblical worldview and professional excellence. They will neither apologize for the former, nor should they artificially contrive the latter as a form of ministry. Rather, students will be led to see that their work is a calling to be lived out through God’s grace and for His glory. We are excited when we think of the passionate, compassionate, biblically minded professionals, scholars, and artists who will graduate from these new programs at Cairn and enter the church, society, and the world eager to fulfill their callings.

Community resonance

Our vision for academic initiatives resonates strongly with those in the Cairn community, telling us something significant about our prioritization of these new degrees and programs. Cairn University is positioned to bring a powerful and unique perspective to higher education in these fields. Our students, alumni, and employees walk a different path. Here at Cairn, faith and truth really do matter. Here at Cairn, biblical integration in all of life is exemplified and expected, not merely preached.

Over the past several years, as the University has expanded its circle of partners, supporters, and friends, enthusiasm and momentum have built for academic offerings in these fields, revealing the timeliness and urgency of this undertaking. Alumni are sending their children to Cairn to study in many of the programs introduced in the past decade, and they now express interest in the new majors under consideration. Leaders in the arts, sciences, and technology have already become vocal advocates for the intentional pursuit of these new fields at Cairn. Prospective faculty are excited about opportunities to teach at a place where Jesus and the Bible are at the center of academics and community life.

Timely influence, eternal impact

Adding new programs at Cairn will do more than accomplish a strategic goal or a fundraising objective. We are venturing into new areas to enhance our mission by extending our reach and influence. As Cairn addresses changing student interests, marketplace dynamics, societal contexts, and global need, as we capitalize on new opportunities, we have the potential to have personal, practical, and eternal impact on students who are not yet attending Cairn. The University is committed to providing a transformational educational experience that challenges, inspires, and prepares students for excellence in every way for Kingdom purposes by making a practical difference in the lives of individuals and our communities at large.

If we are serious about fulfilling our mission and stewarding our heritage well, we must choose the path of innovation. We have a rich history of sending men and women into every sector of society. Our graduates serve in diverse professional fields and in almost every corner of the world. As the needs and opportunities around us change, the mission calls for us to be intentional about that involvement now more than ever.

As we gather the strength and enthusiasm of our community, the academic priorities of the Forward campaign reflect our serious commitment both to our students and to serving a world with critical and changing needs. Unfailingly characterized by our commitment to a deep knowledge of Scripture and boundless worldview integration, our new programs will further our mission and speak of great hope and continued relevance of Scripture in today’s world.

Dr. Brenda Mellon Ebersole ’03 is the dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at bebersole@cairn.edu.