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Professional Networks

Today’s Christian higher education landscape is much more diverse in approach and culture than in previous decades, as more Christian universities successfully compete for and obtain prestigious national rankings (Muntz & Crabtree, 2006). Given their unique character and missions, evangelical Christian and Catholic institutions thrive today in significant part because of robust professional networks facilitated by national higher education associations dedicated to their advancement.

The Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU)

In the 1960s, evangelical Christian higher education was in a crisis as it related to “financial, enrollment, and identity” concerns (Patterson, 2001, p. 30). In an effort to collaboratively develop a plan for survival, small meetings of institutional presidents were held in 1969 and 1970 to address plans for sustainability. It was during these meetings that Earl McGrath—the director of the Higher Education Center at Temple University—suggested the creation of a consortium of Christian institutions that would support Christian universities and colleges in their pursuit of longevity and overall success (Patterson, 2001). In 1971 this suggestion became a reality, and ten evangelical Christian institutions founded the Christian College Consortium for the purposes of die promotion of faith education and the development of collaborative initiatives and programs focused on die sustainability of Christian higher education (Ringenberg, 2006). In 1976, a sister organization, the Christian College Coalition, was founded for the purpose of advocating for Christian institutions via lobbying efforts in Washington DC (Ringenberg, 2006). This advocacy group became what we know today as the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU) and has grown to support more than 180 institutions around the world, each having a mission founded in die historic Christian tradition (CCCU, n.d.).

Membership of the CCCU is diverse, representing denominations in the Anglican, Lutheran, Calvinist, and Anabaptist traditions which includes Baptist, Presbyterian, Reformed, Pentecostal, Nazarene, Brethren, Mennonite, and Methodist institutions (Rinc, 2012). Regardless of its pluralistic design, the Council does have unifying commitments among its institutional members, including the following:

  • • Biblical truth is embedded throughout the academic enterprise;
  • • The moral and spiritual development of students is prioritized; and
  • • Graduates of said institutions “make a difference for the common good as redemptive voices in the world” (CCCU, n.d.).

The Council argues that Christian higher education “exist[s] for the public good and contributefs] to human flourishing” by producing graduates who recognize the challenges and struggles of the modern day world, but feel called to work toward its overall improvement, regardless of their chosen career path (CCCU, n.d.).

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