by Dr. Kotina Hall, Dean, Belhaven-Atlanta
Never before have universities witnessed such generational diversity inside the classrooms. Such a mix should foster a wealth of exchange and variety, including complex experiences. I personally believe that such settings extend beyond the academic walls, lending themselves to the complexities that exist in our society. Interactive exchange affords students opportunities to not only learn from others and to respect their insights, but it also ignites them to critically think to best ignite the application of their own knowledge, spawning the hope for an environment for systematic engagement. Yet, amid this rich mix, there is also an “increase of failing institutions” (Lederman, 2017). I am deeply concerned.
As I often share, during my daily commute I pass more than six colleges and universities. The average student lives more than 40 miles away and can travel up to one or two hours to attend Belhaven University-Atlanta. These statistics reveal that Belhaven University-Atlanta is indeed a university of choice and have caused me to ponder greatly about the survival of our campus in a mecca of ivy-league schools in the south. What makes Belhaven University unique? What is our “in”?
Our “in” is the fact that we not only have a Christian worldview embedded into our curriculum, but the fact that we have an opportunity to openly and boldly live out our creed throughout the day. All institutions have the same 24 hours, but we are distinct in that we have 24 hours to work where we are equipped to live out, speak out, teach about and meet about an all-knowing, all-powerful and awesome Christ. That’s our “in”! No other institution can say that.
As we go out into the fields to create maximum shareholder value, we must do more than post billboards and pass out postcards or heavy-weight business cards; we must boldly share our “in!’” We cannot sell our curriculum if we do not mention Christ. We cannot build solid alliances if our stakeholders do not understand our mission. Our unique and diverse student body cannot appreciate and value our differences if they do not understand the foundation upon which our great institution was built.
The world is constantly changing. Too many are hungry for short-term solutions and less concerned about the welfare of humanity; and sadly, many institutions have moved from “ministry to business” in order to survive. In doing so, they have taken their focus off of Jesus Christ and placed it into systems and business practices.
I am praying that Belhaven University will not change. It is my hope that Belhaven University will continue to promote diversity and encourage heightened, differentiated thought, and transformation learning. In doing so, it is my belief that Belhaven University will posture herself to continue to reevaluate her organizational focus – stand in righteousness, stand up for excellence, stand out from the crowd and stand firm for Christ. Each stance will continue to be our hallmark, but the latter will always be the one to take Belhaven University to unanticipated levels as we follow His prescribed plans.