October is Christian Higher Education Month (CHEM) as designated by a House of Representatives resolution in 2003. The Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) is one of the organizations across the country that helps to keep Christian higher education. FPU, along with about 110 other institutions and several dozen affiliates world-wide, has been a member institution for many years. There are other associations of Christian universities, sometimes by religious denomination (Mennonite, Southern Baptist, Presbyterian Catholic), but all in all religious institutions of higher learning are a minority in higher education.
For a glimpse at what makes Christian Higher Education unique, check out the report from the CCCU on CHEM (don’t you love acronyms?): http://www.cccu.org/news/christian_higher_education_month. The emphasis is on service, on the engagement of these universities and their students and faculties on engagement with the world in the name of Christ.
While our earliest institutions of higher learning in the US started out as religious institutions, the dominant form of higher education is the secular research institution, sometimes called the “multiversity,” with is focus on the discovery of new knowledge, the application of that knowledge to problems of all kinds, and neutrality on questions of values, except for those that dominate the news of the day—for example, access to higher education, diversity, and radical freedom of choice and expression.
The Christian universities are unique in attempting to retain, develop, and sharpen the focus on the commitment to a broader, and we would argue, deeper range of values that contribute to the development of students, scholarly research and teaching, and to the formation of leaders in our communities, professions and society at large. I cannot express this better than to point you to a recent publication from FPU celebrating the research currently being done by our faculty. http://www.fresno.edu/sharedmedia/provost%20page/Provost_Report.pdf
There is more to the discussion of what makes a Christian university unique and something to celebrate during “Christian Higher Education Month.” Part of the uniqueness of American higher education is the variety of types of institutions and the opportunities these afford to students and the diverse perspectives these bring to higher education across the country. This in itself is something to celebrate in our increasingly regulated and engineered world.