Why Cairn?

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As Cairn celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, a marketing campaign is being launched that answers the question “Why Cairn?” The answer is simple, but rich. The University is calling students to walk a different path, and this is a great place to do that. There’s something unique about a Cairn education. Students’ experience here is transformational and inspiring. They study at an institution where the mission is talked about often and everywhere. They have stories and testimonies that are compelling. As we work to spread the word about Cairn, the University wants to provide a strong rationale for what it does and give a glimpse of what sets this place apart. We begin to do that through a series of advertisements that will run in various venues. These ads (and the entire campaign) are anchored around four ad lines:

Why CairnBecause an education should have value

• Because learning should inspire serving

• Because faith and truth do matter

• Because community happens here

Each of these taglines is tied to who we are and what we do, reflecting the distinctives of our institution.

Because faith and truth do matter

Unknown[success]As she studies abroad in India this fall, Faith appreciates the biblical integration of Cairn University anew. Beginning in her first-year experience course, Faith immediately felt the challenge to pursue truth and faith at the center of her studies. This integrated approach empowered Faith to “be aware of what is going on in the world and to learn from great minds of the past—both Christian and non-Christian.” This expectation of critical and biblical thinking continued through­out her core courses: “As a result of taking Literature and Arts of the Western World, asking worldview questions is thoroughly engrained in my approach to all of learning.” Now, immersed in a deeply religious Hindu culture, Faith stands firm on the biblical worldview foundation built in her core courses at Cairn, confidently engaging those whose faith has little understanding of the Way, the Truth, and the Life.[/success]

A Cairn University education is centered on the Lord Jesus Christ and His Word. For us, “faith” does not mean simply being spiritual or religious in some way; rather, it is directed toward Jesus Christ and His gospel. For University students in pursuit of truth, Jesus Christ stands at the center because He is the Truth. That is why truth matters. Because He is unchanging, Cairn students understand that truth is not contingent upon a particular time, culture, or place; nor is it subjective, up for them to decide. Instead, students are to discover truth in every discipline and, when it is found, to love and submit to it. Cairn students are grounded in the Scriptures and Christian theology throughout their education, learning that faith does not involve merely believing in Christ, but also being faithful to His teachings. Truth and being true to it matter.

Because community happens here

DSC_5808[success]This shared commitment to faith and truth unifies the Cairn community—a dynamic that Caleb especially appreciates. In his eyes, the commitment to Christ-centered community begins during the application process. “Cairn does take their Community Life Covenant seriously, in the sense of striving hard to create healthy community here,” he explains. “Being around a like-minded body of believers in Christ really does shape all your interactions… You realize that there is a higher standard that you can be striving for in your friendships.” Caleb notes ways that this intentionality permeates campus. He recalls his surprise when upperclassmen initiated introductions his first weeks on campus. “Soon, you realize that the campus is much smaller than you think,” he laughs, “but that isn’t to say that you don’t continually meet new people every week in a fresh and genuine way… At events, there is a genuine interest to be involved and get to know each other.”[/success]

Community is about more than simply taking classes together. It is more than occupying the same space or having a similar experience. Community is powerful, instructive, encouraging, and biblical. And at Cairn, community is intentional. It happens here—but it does not “just happen” here. Instead, students choose to live life together, inside and outside of the classroom. They are encouraged to serve one another and the surrounding community, to participate in events and activities together, to hold one another accountable, to contribute to the life of the University, and to build one another up. The student body is large enough to enjoy a diverse and dynamic campus life, but also small enough that people are not lost in the crowd. Faculty and staff know and are known by our students, and they are involved in students’ lives and experi­ences here and after graduation. Visitors to campus often remark about the sense of shared purpose, the warmth, and the energy that they see. This kind of robust community happens not by chance. It is attended to closely as an outworking of the University’s biblical commitment and understanding that in Christ, we are one.

Because an education should have value

DSC_4856[success]For David, biblical integration and strong relationships make his Cairn education worth every penny. Yes, he notes, the Cairn Scholarship Fund has made his education here competitively priced with even many state schools. However, for him, value is about more than price. “I have a friend who recently graduated from a large university,” he recounts, “and is now feeling the full effects of the competitive job market. However, I feel confident facing life after graduation—not only in terms of finding a job, but in the way that I view my career.” On one hand, his outlook has been shaped by the mentorship of his professors, who both challenge him in the classroom and help him build a broad professional network. On the other hand, students develop a higher vision for their careers: “At Cairn, we are told that there is more to good business than just the bottom line on an income statement. We learn to see business as a powerful way to serve God’s kingdom.” In the end, the value of a Cairn education is walking a different path, now and in the future. David sums it up: “If I were to go into the business world without a biblical worldview, I would be doing nothing differently than the next guy. And I don’t believe God calls us to live ordinary lives.”[/success]

There is quite a bit of talk these days about the cost of higher education and the question of value. Many people assume that you cannot have both value and affordability, so they settle for lesser options or assume that the most costly options must have the most value. But when Cairn talks about walking a different path, this subject is not an exception. It is possible to get a college education that is both affordable and valuable. Cairn is priced competitively, gives significant financial aid, and is committed to keeping costs down. But “value” is a loaded word that needs to be thought of on a bigger scale than just cost and affordability. An education has value when it is built upon something valuable—a matter of valuing what is most important. There is no such thing as a “values-neutral” education. Every college and university is built on and around some philosophical commitment. Cairn is centered on Christ and the Scripture. This is what has the greatest value and will build into students things of eternal value. This is worth every penny.

Because learning should inspire serving

DSC_4979[success]For Katrina, the most valuable outcome of her Cairn education is not her degree, but her service. “When I was looking for a Christian university with an accredited social work program,” she explains, “I could not have picked a better place than Cairn to be educated by those who desire to be Christ’s hands and feet to a lost and broken world, to have opportunities to live out my faith in Christ.” The inspiration for this service comes from faculty members who “have taught me by example the power, excitement, and joy of living a life modeled after Jesus Christ.” The faculty and staff ’s service to students begins in the classroom, but extends far beyond: “Unlike many universities, Cairn’s faculty and staff personally invite students into their lives. I expected a proper education at Cairn, but I never thought that the most powerful learning would come from being brought into the lives of so many godly, Christ-centered, mature believers who genuinely care about both my spiritual and professional growth.” The fruit of this inspiration is obvious in Katrina’s life. As president of the student social work organization, Chi Beta Sigma, she rallies students from all majors to fight human trafficking through the campus chapter of the International Justice Mission. She also serves with U-Link, a student-led ministry to children in the apartment complex adjacent to the University’s Penndel dorms.[/success]

The Cairn mission statement begins with education and ends with character, because we believe that education should change not only what you know, but who you are and what you do. Faculty mem­bers understand that education involves more than the transfer of ideas, but also the giving of themselves to teach, train, and inspire their students, both in and out of class. In keeping with Jesus’ teaching that it is better to give than to receive, students at Cairn give of them­selves in various ways while in school, fulfilling even now the purpose of their studies: to serve Christ in the church, society, and the world. At commencement, graduates are reminded one last time that, having completed their course of studies, the University commissions them to live life according to Jesus’ words: “To whom much is given, much is required.”

As we spread the word about the University, we seek to answer the question prospective students and their families ask: “Why Cairn?” These answers stem from the experiences of our students and the things that matter most to us. Walk a Different Path is more than a tagline at Cairn. It is a statement. It is an invitation. It is something that Cairn students believe in, commit to, and live out together.

[info]Dr. Brian G. Toews is the University Provost. He has been on Cairn’s faculty since 1993. He can be reached by emailing provost@cairn.edu.

Marissa A. Rumpf is the managing editor of Cairn magazine. She has also served as adjunct faculty since February 2013. She can be reached be emailing magazine@cairn.edu[/info]