College Administrator’s Roundtable
Some have called Jesus’ upper-room discourse His “valedictory address.” In it, Jesus provided key truths for His first disciples, truths that still guide His disciples today. One of the hallmark statements of the address is John 13:35, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
The members of the Body of Christ show love to each other in many ways. Certainly, this love and care mark the local church, and IHC events regularly bring together multiple churches in loving fellowship as a unified body of Christ. What may be less apparent is how Bible colleges can and do practice “loving one another.”
First, the Bible colleges do not stand alone, interacting only with their own groups of alumni and other constituents. Just as IHC seeks to bring together and unify our holiness churches, an organized network of Bible colleges—called College Administrators Roundtable—collaborates to serve the conservative holiness movement. This article is written collaboratively by administrators from the colleges to share an “inside look” at how the colleges work together to serve our movement.
Our collaboration rests on a foundation of personal relationships—truly, of “loving one another.” We pray for each other. We do this as individuals, and we do this in staff meetings. We also call, text, and email to encourage one another. Several leaders from our colleges meet at the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE) Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida, as all of our institutions are part of ABHE. This provides a time where we both fellowship together and also share learning opportunities in ABHE workshops, which can inform additional ways we partner. College leaders also meet annually at the College Administrators’ Roundtable in Dayton, Ohio, the Monday prior to the Dayton IHC, again for fellowship and shared learning.
We applaud one another’s successes in accreditation achievements and reaffirmations. We look out for each other with articulation agreements to enlarge the range of acceptance and to provide each other’s students with additional pathways to follow God’s call. We worship together in conventions, we celebrate as music groups and speakers from our sister schools minister, and our choirs join en masse giving praise to our Lord at the Annual Dayton IHC. In fact, the directing of the mass choir and orchestra at Dayton rotates among the various colleges. We pray together for revival, and we rejoice together in the advance of the Kingdom of Christ wherever that may be!
We brainstorm together on how to improve policies and professional practice, as well as how to deal with federal regulations (such as Title IX). We have shared our approaches with one another for dealing with COVID-19, and we are quick to aid each other in a crisis, sometimes sending work teams and finances to help recover from a disaster. Periodically, we course share by offering online courses with each other’s students. Frequently, face-to-face students at one college are taking an online course from a sister school. This alleviates scheduling problems and allows specialties the local college could not have fully provided.
When students transfer, we reference-check to ensure that the student does not have an outstanding school bill or an unsettled discipline issue with a sister holiness college. We hire each other’s graduates, for employment, for special event speakers, and for online instruction. We cooperate in teaching for the graduate schools at God’s Bible School and Hobe Sound Bible College. We celebrate that our graduates are able to continue their education in the conservative holiness context! The organizations and denominations clustered around our Bible colleges are sprinkled with graduates and faculty from each of our schools. We are laborers together with God!
We help each other in graduate-level research projects and encourage each other in advancing studies. Faculty from one Bible college regularly serve on a dissertation committee for an administrator or a faculty member from another Bible college. The seasoned administrators help mentor and encourage newer administrators. As true love demands, we are brotherly and sisterly enough to admonish each other occasionally, and the relationships are sufficient to sustain the experience.
We collaborate on institutional research, developing and administering surveys to obtain a greater understanding about employee engagement, as well as student outcomes/alignment. A survey evaluating the spiritual transformation of students was developed among Roundtable participants and continues to be administered in several schools to benchmark and to monitor how students are growing spiritually and how they attribute their growth to their Bible college experience. Several administrators are currently completing doctoral research that will contribute further to understanding and advancing our Bible colleges; their colleagues are engaged in the research projects and the dissertations with them, providing input. This collaboration helps to paint a well-researched picture of the conservative holiness Bible colleges today, as well as to help us serve God even more effectively in the days ahead.
Just as the IHC is a magnetic center to the conservative holiness churches, schools, missions organizations, and conservative holiness people in general, so too the College Administrators Roundtable, in the spirit of IHC, is a fellowship that listens, provides broader context, and suggests professional insights that each organization can consider for their own implementation. For many years, the Wesleyan Education Association of America (a brainchild of Dr. Steve Herron, a grand statesman for Christian K-12 and higher education) met at Dayton, but when that ceased, administrators from several Bible colleges formed the College Administrators Roundtable that has been meeting annually since 1996.
IHC provides an opportunity for us to recruit students. While each college has its own personality and somewhat distinctive group(s) of people to which it appeals, we often seek to recruit some of the same students. It is not unusual for students to be receiving promotional material from three or more of our schools. We promote, and we pray that students will not be questioning, “Shall I go to Bible college?” but rather, “Which Bible college shall I attend?” We have also had discussions about the ethical boundaries in recruiting. With the same Great Commission, we press the youth of the conservative holiness movement to dedicate themselves to Christian ministry—Kingdom building in whatever profession they choose!
We all live in a world marked by competition. We easily see it in the nearest yard sign in an election season or the grocery advertisement in the mailbox. Unfortunately, this competitive filter commonly becomes a primary lens through which our Bible colleges are perceived. This is, no doubt, inevitable. But on the inside of our institutions, things look different. We share a common faith, a common practice, a common heritage, common traditions, and common priorities. Jesus’ words truly mark our relationships: we love one another, and that love is active in the ways we have shared here. Our Bible colleges are truly sisters and brothers in Christ working together toward the same goal: to see Christ’s Kingdom come in the power and beauty of holiness!