When I get together with presidents and leaders of other Christian colleges, certain issues always arise. As you might imagine, one recurring theme is economics.
Generally speaking, the Christian colleges have grown stronger over the past 15 years.
- As a group, our enrollment increased faster than secular colleges and public institutions.
- Many schools saw increases in adult and graduate programs as they developed degrees to meet the needs of traditional and non-traditional students.
- Christian colleges became more focused on their mission.
- They succeeded in helping people understand the value of a Christian college education, as opposed to a state or secular institution.
- The message “Why you should send your student to a Christian college” got through to many more parents.
But we are always concerned about enrollment, because we are dependent on tuition, rather than state subsidies or large endowments. Dave Winters, the president of Westmont University for 25 years, noted that most Christian colleges are just one year away from being in bad fiscal shape. When it comes right down to it, Christian colleges are fragile institutions.
So when Christian college presidents get together, it is inevitable that we talk about freshmen, fundraising and finances. Budgets are tight. We depend on tuition and gifts for our life-blood. It’s not something unique to Huntington University, but is common among most Christian colleges and universities.