More Than a Backward Glance

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Over the past several years, significant milestones in the history of our institution have provided the Cairn community with rich opportunities for retrospection and reflection, much of which has been published in the University magazine. We have looked back on Dr. Babb’s 28-year tenure, the longstanding service of beloved faculty and staff members, the institution’s centennial anniversary and, most recently, the 50th anniversary of our Social Work program.

In this issue of Cairn, the past, present, and future come together yet again, following the conclusion of our recent self-study and reaccreditation process with the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). In the 10-year period since our last reaccreditation review, there have been many significant and strategic changes at the University, many contextual challenges in Christian higher education, and many new faces to introduce to readers. We have started several new programs in both the professional and liberal arts areas, as well as initiatives like the Arts Initiative in 2008 and the Strategic Partnerships Initiatives in 2014. There have been changes to the core curriculum, improvements to facilities, the name change, and more.

This year’s MSCHE self-study and reaccreditation review was more than just an opportunity to present the changes we have made as a University over the past 10 years. It was a look into what is happening right now: new and creative leadership in departments and programs across the University; an incoming freshman class from an increasing number of states and countries; and most importantly, what our students are doing while learning and serving at Cairn, including in this year’s new online and on-campus programs in international entrepreneurship, nonprofit leadership, and recreation and tourism. Through it all, there has been a clear sense that God is at work at Cairn in the midst of the unique challenges of our times and the need to be people who live with purpose and for a purpose.

There is a clear sense that God is at work at Cairn in the midst of the unique challenges of our times and the need to be people who live with purpose and for a purpose.

This process has also been an opportunity to take a good look at what we are now strategically positioned to do to fulfill our unique and timely mission. We are seizing on this important 10-year marker to position the University for the future and what is to come in the second century of our history. There are plans for program offerings in new disciplines, additional graduate programs, campus development, expanded partnerships, and an increased presence in the region as a resource for the Christian community.

When I consider the convergence of the three aspects of past, present, and future at Cairn, I am mindful of the significance of the mission. It is perhaps the most important and impactful change of the past 10 years: It honors and builds upon our past, directs and invigorates the present, and gives us focus and vision for the future.

In this spirit, this issue of the magazine provides us with the opportunity to look back with fondness and to look forward with anticipation, while at the same time giving readers a window into the present. As always, the editorial staff has strived to bring readers into the life of the University and share the changes, challenges, and successes of the important work done here. It lays before us the things we can be praying for, testifies to how God is using the University and its alumni, and provides insight and instruction regarding our life in this world. As you read this issue, I trust that you will see many of these things, but most importantly that you will know — as the MSCHE site visit team clearly learned — that Cairn University truly exists to educate students to serve Christ in the church, society, and the world as biblically minded, well-educated, and professionally competent men and women of character. 

TJW-WebDr. Todd J. Williams 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