The Future of Christian Higher Education

The Future of Christian Higher Education

The Backdrop for this Discussion on Christian Higher Education

This National Conversation event was filmed on the majestic campus in Northfield, MA adjacent to the homestead of famous evangelist D. L. Moody (d. 1899). He established this for disenfranchised girls, and another campus five miles away at Mt. Hermon for young boys (Northfield Seminary for Young Ladies in 1879 and Mount Hermon School for Boys in 1881). The foundation of these schools was Biblical, and Rev. Moody provided much of the founding resources from his songbook royalties. The campuses remained solidly Christian for decades and garnered international recognition for their programs. In more recent years the two schools became co-educational and merged as Northfield-Mt. Hermon (1971). The entire operations moved to the Mt. Hermon campus in 2005 and the Northfield campus was sold in 2009.

The Greens (owners of Hobby Lobby) purchased it for the purpose of donating it to the C. S. Lewis Foundation for the establishment of the C. S. Lewis College. However, the latter was unable to raise the required capital to open and the Greens decided not to release it officially and began to consider other organizations. The Executive Director of National Conversations, Dr. Jerry Pattengale, oversaw this process and began the long process of vetting applicants. After considering more than 100 serious suitors, the winner was Grand Canyon University – a for-profit Christian University that intended to open a second campus. Although Grand Canyon is for-profit, it had demonstrated a robust Christian emphasis and low-cost residential education. Around 6,000 of its 50,000 students have a wonderful on-campus experience in Phoenix, AZ, and all students pay less than $10,0000 annually.

The gifting ceremony proved to be an educational and festive event, strongly supported by the local community, and can be viewed online. It took place an hour before the filming of the National Conversation, and on the same stage. A few weeks after the event, Grand Canyon University changed its mind and withdrew from receiving the campus. The decision coincided with its board meeting of shareholders. The Greens then gifted it to the National Christian Foundation.

The National Conservation on “The Future of Christian Higher Education” occurred against the backdrop of the campuses D. L. Moody founded, the Northfield-Mount Hermon story, the noble but failed attempt of the C. S. Lewis College, and the interlude with the successful but hesitant Grand Canyon University. This backdrop is not dissimilar from the varied challenges facing Christian institutions worldwide. The discussion is timely.

Schedule of Events

VIP Luncheon, Olivia Music Building

Host: Steve Green (President, Hobby Lobby)
Co-Host: Henry Smith (President, Indiana Wesleyan University)
Prayer: Stan Mattson (President, C.S. Lewis Foundation)
Speaker: Les Miller (Hobby Lobby)

Public Announcement, Recipient of the Northfield Campus, Sage Chapel (View the video of the event)

Emcee: Jerry Pattengale (Exec. Dir., Green Scholars’ Initiative)
Speaker: Steve Green
Response: Campus Recipient
Community: Alexander Stewart, Chair, Northfield Campus Collaborative

National Conversations, Sage Chapel

Emcee: Jay Hein (President, Sagamore Institute)
Moderator: Michael Cromartie (VP, Ethics & Public Policy Center, D.C.)

Meet the Recipients, Moody Auditorium

Host: Steve Green
Co-Hosts: Les Miller & Henry Smith
Recording Artist: Phoenix-Park Kim


National Conversations Participants


Emceed by: 
Jay Hein
President, Sagamore Institute 
Former Deputy Assistant to President George W. Bush; Director of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives (2006-2008); Distinguished Senior Fellow and Director of the Program on Faith & Generosity (Baylor University, ISR) 

Moderated by:
Michael Cromartie
VP of Ethics and Policy Center
Director of Evangelicals in Civic Life Program; Founding Director of the Faith Angle Forum 

Panelists include:
Dr. Carlos Campo
Pres. Regent University
Recipient of “Outstanding Educator” and “Educator of the Year” by local and national organizations; numerous appearances on national news and interview broadcasts about education.

Mr. Steve Green
President, Hobby Lobby, Inc.
Other affiliated companies owned by his family include Hemispheres, EthnoGraphic Media, Crafts, Etc! and Mardel Stores. Steve also has led the establishment of the Green Collection—over 40,000 ancient Biblical artifacts and texts, and the basis of the Green Scholars’ Initiative. A national museum will be housed in their prominent D.C. location. Steve’s most recent book is Faith in America (Looking Glass Books, 2011). 

Dr. David Wright
President, Indiana Wesleyan University
Founder, National Conversations; author, Finding Freedom from Fear: A Contemporary Study from the Psalms, and Wisdom as a Lifestyle: Building Biblical Life-codes (Zondervan Publishing); former Dean, Haggard School of Theology, Azusa Pacific University 

Geoff Tunnicliffe
President, World Evangelical Alliance
International speaker; magazine writer; author of 101 Ways to Change Your World (Chariot Victor, 1997); leader of Refugee Highway Partnership (1999-2002, 350 organizations) 

Dr. Shirley Hoogstra
Vice President for Student Life , Calvin College
Co Host, PBS's Inner Compass; longtime member of litigation firm, Jacobs, Grudberg, Belt & Dow; contributing author, Thriving in Leadership (ACU Press, 2012) 

Dr. Brian Mueller
CEO, Grand Canyon University
President of Apollo Group Inc., Parent of University of Phoenix, from January 2006 to June 24, 2008; also, President of GCU since September 1, 2012

Dr. Jerry Pattengale 
Executive Director, Green Scholars' Initiative
Author & national speaker; Assistant Provost, IWU; Senior Fellow, Sagamore Institute; Research Associate, Tyndale House Cambridge; Research Scholar, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary; Distinguished Senior Fellow, Baylor University (ISR); National Board, Religion News Service; Associate Publisher, Christian Scholar’s Review.