Cairn University

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[dropcap3]O[/dropcap3]n May 11, 2012, after considerable prayer and deliberation, the University’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously to change the name of the school. A few weeks later the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania gave its authorization for the use of the new name. With that, PBU became Cairn University. This decision, along with the decisions last year regarding the degree requirements, are part of a long process the Board has undertaken over the past year and a half to refine and articulate the vision for the University as we near our one hundredth anniversary. This spring, the Trustees reviewed the proposal for the name change that included a market research study, legal review, and several rationale papers. The primary reason for taking up this change is to overcome the misperception that the University is a narrowly focused school where students do not have the option of earning degrees other than Bible. The change will also help expand opportunities for our graduates in international settings and many professional fields.

The discussions during the two-day meetings were respectfully mindful of the past and our history but intently focused on the future. The Board is an experienced one, well-acquainted with the heritage of the University. Three members who spoke in favor of the change have more than one hundred and twenty years of service between them. There are also several alumni who serve as Trustees. These men and women are all staunch supporters of the institution and its students. All give of their time, talent, and resources, and do so in service to Christ. They are committed to the mission and vision of the school and take their charge as Trustees seriously as a calling of God. Their willingness to look forward and make decisions that will position the University for greater impact is a blessing and benefit to the school. It is an honor to be counted among them and to participate with them in this important work in these historic days.

The change to Cairn University is one that is tied to the mission and vision. Our mission is strong and our vision is clear. In fact, last fall the Board affirmed a series of vision points, and the first and over-arching one is simply this: “The Mission is the Vision!” The mission statement guides all we do. It is our reason for existence. We are here to educate students to serve Christ. All other points of the vision are tied to and subservient to this.

Cairn is a strong, robust word that carries powerful imagery, and we intend to fill it with meaning. We believe it ties all things together in terms of our institution, its mission and vision. We believe that this University does what cairns do all over the world. These piles of stone bear witness and point the way, calling to mind the things that must be remembered and giving direction in this world. Our University hymn and verse testify to God’s great faithfulness. These are part of our rich heritage, not only at this school but as the people of God who have always been under obligation to declare that God is Almighty God and there is none like Him. But also, our motto, “Walk a Different Path,” provides direction and calls us onward to something more, something significant, something greater that our own self interests. This is what we have been doing for nearly a century. Again, not only this institution, but we as God’s children and believers in Christ are called to follow, to serve, to sacrifice, and to go places where the needs are greatest and declare the truths of God’s Word and Way. It is my prayer that Cairn University and its graduates will live up to its name and the central commitments that are our distinctives.

This entire issue of the magazine is dedicated to communicating the name change. I ask that you take the time to read the various articles and trust that you will be encouraged by the thinking behind the change and the enthusiasm we have for what it will do for this work going forward. There are many familiar people who have contributed perspectives on the change. There are questions answered like why?, why now?, and why this name? My prayer is that as we continue to tell the story of Cairn University, we will find ourselves bearing witness and pointing the way, just as we have done under every other name and for nearly one hundred years.
Todd J. Williams, Ph.D., has been the President of Cairn University since January 2008. He served as faculty and an administrator from 1996 to 2001, and then returned as Provost in 2005. He can be reached by emailing