Huntington University?

My alma mater has seen fit to change its name from Huntington College to Huntington University. I fail to see the point. I guess it’s supposed to be a big marketing advantage. I haven’t talked to anyone who’s excited about the idea. But the Trustees went along with it, so it’ll happen with the start of the 2005 class. “HU” just doesn’t have the right feel as “HC.” The theme song will need to be changed, since it now ends, “Hail, all hail HC.” A little thing, obviously.

I’m increasingly concerned about the high cost of a Christian liberal arts education at Huntington, as well as at other Christian colleges. It seems to me that our Christian colleges are pricing themselves way beyond the reach of the lower classes. There seems to be a chasing after US News rankings and such, after prestige. It’s a form of elitism. And, I increasingly fear, of messed up priorities and sense of mission.

I was a poor preacher’s kid who emerged from HC in 1979 with no debt. I’ll bet that doesn’t happen much anymore. My brother Rick, who works at a state university, talks about the joy of helping truly struggling, poor people obtain an education. Isn’t that something our Christian colleges should be doing? But more and more, we’re leaving the poor behind. This greatly disturbs me. I’m sure that, if I asked, HC people would give me some wonderful anecdotes. But I know it’s not the norm.

At my church near downtown Fort Wayne, we have several kids going to Taylor-Fort Wayne. They couldn’t afford Huntington College or the Taylor Upland campus, but the Taylor-Fort Wayne campus is several thousand dollars cheaper. But even that college is too much for some of our kids, who have switched over to IPFW (Indiana University-Fort Wayne). I have also sensed at Huntington (and I’ve heard the same is true at Taylor-Upland) a somewhat condescending attitude toward Taylor-Fort Wayne, as if, “You get what you pay for.” It smells to me like arrogance.

I’ve become a huge fan of Taylor-Fort Wayne. A lot of those kids come to my church, and they are involved in ministry throughout the city. They may not come from well-off homes, but they’re great kids with a strong Christian commitment. And if the education they get doesn’t quite measure up to Upland or Huntington–so be it. I’m more interested in their character than in the accreditation and ranking of their school.

Am I on a rant, or what?

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