From the President: Spring 2024

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This past year, a new book was published entitled Christian Higher Education: An Empirical Guide. The authors, Perry L. Glanzer, Theodore F. Cockle, and Jessica Martin, collaborated to conduct extensive research and developed a rating system as a resource for parents and students trying to understand the variety of approaches taken by Christian colleges and universities. The book introduces the Operationalizing Christian Identity Guide (OCIG), which the authors state is a “comprehensive tool that identifies, ranks, and evaluates the significant ways Christian colleges and universities operationalize their Christian identity to make mission, marketing, membership, curriculum, co-curricular, and other decisions.” Cairn is mentioned in the book a couple of times, scoring 25 out of 26 on the OCIG, indicating a very high operationalization of our Christian commitments. In other words, we are a university that does more than simply identify as Christian or admits to a Christian heritage or affiliation.

What we believe matters here and it shows, even in the empirical data gathered by these authors. This is encouraging, and I hope that the book will serve Christian families well as they seek out institutions of higher learning that fit their
own expectations and needs. Those looking for a college or university that is distinctly and faithfully Christian in the
execution of its mission need these resources. While this scale is not perfect, no such tools are. For instance, the OCIG gives a score for having a vice president of mission (which Cairn does not have), but there is no metric for the regular
discussions of mission by the Board and Administration. Still, this is a helpful guide, and I know other researchers and entities looking to develop similar guides and rating systems to help families and students, as well as prospective donors,
who want to learn more about the institutions to which they are entrusting their students, education, and financial resources.

At Cairn we often talk about the concept of faithfulness. The university hymn celebrates God’s great faithfulness as an immutable attribute inextricably tied to his lovingkindness and mercies. But we also speak often of our
own commitment to be faithful to God and his word, by his grace and for his glory. We strive to do more than operationalize our faith. We endeavor to be truly integrated; to teach, learn, and live in humble obedience to the Lord; and to submit ourselves to truth and wrestle with the implications of it for our thinking and living—all while cultivating a university community that embraces its covenantal responsibilities and delivering an excellent education and student experience that is, at its core, biblically Christian.

The impact of these commitments is seen in every area of our work, from the careful stewardship of financial resources (including our commitment to keeping indebtedness to a minimum) to our requirement of a Christian testimony on the admission application and the active participation of students in the required chapel program. Faculty and staff must demonstrate not only a faith commitment but a continuing alignment with the University’s mission, commitments, and beliefs. The curriculum and instruction are designed and carried out to teach students to be truth seekers rather than truth makers. Students are taught to be careful not to conflate Christianity or the gospel with politics or cultural agendas and encouraged to fulfill their callings as servants of Christ in the church, society, and the world. They are taught to develop an approach to critical thinking that has not been co-opted by contemporary theories rooted in Marxist thinking and does not undermine their faith and commitment to objective and absolute truth. Students are taught to uphold the authority of Scripture by those who teach the reason that matters so very much.

I am not surprised by how well we scored on the OCIG scale. I also know there is much more to our story, who we are, and what we do here every day. I trust this issue of the magazine gives you a real sense of those things and strengthens your confidence in Cairn