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.

Bill Fisher, our campus pastor (his actual title is Dean of Christian Faith and Life), has developed a strong chapel program for our students and staff. We hold chapels every Tuesday and Thursday morning at 10:00 a.m.

These programs are richly varied. We will have speakers, drama presentations, music, student presentations about mission trips–a wide range of programs. Bill Fisher speaks regularly in chapel; so do some other faculty. Our student worship band, Joyful Noise, leads us in some great music.

On Friday mornings at 11:00 a.m., we offer a Bible study or convocation. Last year, Friday mornings focused on the theme of Christ-centeredness.

You may have heard about the “Last Lecture” of Carnegie Mellon computer science professor Randy Pausch, who spoke and wrote about facing terminal cancer. Pausch passed away on July 25 of this year.

We actually started doing our own Last Lecture Series about ten years ago, as part of our regular chapel schedule. We asked faculty, “If this were your last lecture, what would you say?” Those presentations have been especially meaningful.

forbeslogo.gifForbes.com placed Huntington University on its Top 100 list of America’s Best Colleges. HU was ranked No. 65. For perspective, other schools in the top 75 were:

  • University of North Carolina (66).
  • Wake Forest (69).
  • Cornell (71).

This is impressive, too: only five Indiana colleges made the top 100. They are:

  • Wabash College (12th).
  • DePauw University (47th).
  • Huntington University (65th).
  • Notre Dame (77th).
  • Earlham (94th).

Here’s the Forbes.com listing for Huntington University. Or, check out the state-by-state list.

In a presentation Sept. 2, Parkview Huntington Hospital awarded a $75,000 grant to Huntington University’s nursing program.

This gift is in addition to a $100,000 grant the hospital gave the university in February 2006 and a $75,000 grant presented in May 2007.
“Huntington University’s new Bachelor of Science Nursing program will help to address the ever-growing national need for more healthcare workers,” said Darlene Garrett, chief operating officer of Parkview Huntington Hospital. “We are proud to be able to contribute to this important educational opportunity.”

The grant funds were used for the construction and equipping of the main lab/classroom in the Nursing Department located in the lower level of the university’s Science Hall. The room is named in the hospital’s honor as the Parkview Huntington Hospital Lab/Classroom.

Dr. Margaret Winter, director of the nursing program, said, “An essential part of nursing education for the students is to practice the necessary skills and procedures in a state-of-the art skills facility and then to transfer this knowledge into the clinical setting. Parkview Huntington Hospital is providing both of these opportunities with their financial support and in offering the hospital environment for student clinicals.”

Huntington University has 38 students enrolled in the pre-nursing program with the first class of nursing majors set to graduate in May 2011.

It’s another record enrollment for Huntington University: 1209 students for the fall 2008 semester.

  • 978 traditional undergraduates (a new record).
  • 130 students in the EXCEL adult degree programs.
  • 101 students in the Graduate School (the first year the grad programs exceeded 100).

The 327 new fulltime traditional undergraduate students is a new record.

The new student residence, Livingston Hall, opened in time for the fall semester. It’s already 97% full. Overall student housing is at 90% capacity.

“The long-range plan,” said HU President G. Blair Dowden, “calls for increasing enrollment to 2000 students by 2016.”

Other tidbits about the HU student body:

  • 7% of incoming freshmen represent US ethnic minorities.
  • Students come from 36 different states and Puerto Rico (with 56% from Indiana).
  • 31 international students represent 17 countries.

Hundreds of Huntington University students plunged into their college experience by volunteering at several places throughout the Huntington community on August 23.

For 15 years, the university’s new students have participated in the Joe Mertz Center’s Volunteer Plunge. This year, 28 teams comprised of more than 350 freshmen and transfer students, 28 mentor students, and 30 faculty worked on projects from 1 to 3 p.m.

The Volunteer Plunge is a part-day of community service held each year in conjunction with Huntington University’s three-day new student orientation.

The teams helped with painting, cleaning out facilities, building maintenance, lawn care, mulching, washing vehicles, socializing with nursing home residents, picking up litter and repairing fences.

Said Grace McBrayer, director of first year students and volunteer service, “A summer’s worth of orchestration culminated as students and staff spread out into the community of Huntington and a bit beyond. Certainly many thanks go to the myriad of people and organizations willing to host our students out in the community, as well as the Joe Mertz Center student staff who worked hard during the days before the plunge to arrange details regarding the vans, work supplies and other logistics.”

Service locations for the 2008 Volunteer Plunge included the Huntington Head Start, YMCA, Bible Baptist Church, Homier Baseball Field, The Church of Our Glorious King, Salamonie Interpretive Center, The Huntington County Chapter of the American Red Cross, Helping Paws, Miller’s Merry Manor, the Huntington County Boys and Girls Club, Salamonie Reservoir, College Park Church, Victory Knoll, Love INC, Pathfinder Services, Forks of the Wabash, Dan Quayle Center, Riverview Middle School, Good Shepherd Church, Huntington Church of the Brethren, Huntington First Church of the Nazarene, Kids Kampus, Springwater Church 509 Ministries, and Habitat for Humanity.

Founded in 1992, the Joe Mertz Center for Volunteer Service has become an integral part of Huntington University campus life. During the 2007-2008 academic year, students, faculty and staff volunteered for more than 12,900 hours, serving families, organizations and programs.

The JMC is a student-directed organization that mobilizes the campus community for Christian service. The JMC aims to involve students in the local community, instill a lifelong tendency toward service and promote the idea that one person can make a difference. The Joe Mertz Center has been listed as an exemplary program in the John Templeton Foundation Honor Roll of Character-Building Colleges.

Attaboy_small.jpgWhen Attaboy launches its Rock Hop & Roll tour in September, three of the band members will take their alma mater with them. The Huntington-based alternative rock group has partnered with Huntington University.
Attaboy includes (left to right) Micah Beckwith, Amos Caley, Jeff Edgel and Chris Brumbaugh.

  • Drummer Micah Beckwith graduated from the university in 2005 with a double major in business management, and economics and finance.
  • Amos Caley, also a 2005 alumnus, has a bachelor’s degree in Bible and religion.
  • Guitarist Jeff Edgel majored in elementary education and graduated in 2004.
  • Though bassist Chris Brumbaugh is not an alumnus, he has lived in Huntington all of his life and is a United Brethren member.

“I’m really impressed because we’re always touring, and we’re always thinking about how we can market ourselves creatively,” said Caley, vocalist and pianist for Attaboy. “We’ve seen many colleges and universities not thinking the same way. They don’t try things out of the box….We’ve never seen a university hitch its wagon to a band. We’re fully anticipating extending the partnership.”

From the university’s standpoint, Attaboy offered access to thousands of teenagers and young adults who otherwise may have never heard of Huntington.

“It’s a catchy way to get students’ attention,” said Nate Perry, the university’s director of undergraduate admissions. “Obviously, music is popular. Young people love music. The other thing is for Attaboy, it’s not just about being in front during a concert. It’s about trying to build relationships with students. Students truly appreciate that. Anyone can get on stage and play, but it takes someone special to develop relationships with an audience.”

The partnership involves co-branding between the band and the university – everything from Web site links to T-shirts to concerts at the university.

Attaboy’s music has appeared on three promotional CDs and one DVD for the university. Acoustic hip-hop artist Heath McNease and indie-rock newcomers The Fabulous also have tracks on the CD and are part of the Rock Hop & Roll tour.

“With this CD, the university has the power to help us get our music out to thousands of people that we wouldn’t have access to otherwise,” Beckwith said. “That’s great for us. It helps us tremendously as a band to have that level of exposure.”

Creatively, the band’s messages resonated with the audience that Huntington targets with its admissions efforts.

“Another pretty natural connection is that the music we write is very focused around junior high, high school and early college students – their struggles for acceptance, maturity, trying to figure out who they are. Those questions lead to much of our songwriting. We try to add a positive spin with hope and encouragement.

“I think the overall message of our concerts blends well with the message Huntington wants to send with its education. It’s a match made in heaven.”

The month-long Rock Hop & Roll tour kicks off at the South Whitley United Methodist Church in South Whitley, Ind., at 7 p.m. on Sept. 6. For more information, log on to www.attaboyonline.com.

Huntington University is a Christ-centered institution. But what does that mean? We spent the 2007-2008 year examining that question.

At Huntington, being Christ-centered is our main thing. It’s who we are, our distinctive. I thought it would be appropriate to consider what “Christ-centered” means in each role of the institution–as a student, athlete, faculty, student, staff member. We formed a task force, and thus began a year-long dialogue.

  • There were presentations, book discussions, and Bible studies.
  • Various groups–faculty staff, students, athletic teams, and campus organizations–discussed what Christ-centered meant in their area of responsibility.
  • We emphasized learning what Scripture says about Christ-centeredness.

The Presidential Symposium on Christ-Centered Higher Education was a highpoint of the 2007-2008 academic year. We brought in three outstanding speakers, and we discussed their presentations.

After spring break, I met with faculty, staff, and students separately. I asked them, “What did we learn? Where do we go from here?” I then made presentations to these groups, using what they had told me and adding my own thoughts, about what we need to do in the future.

It was a meaningful year in the life of our campus, and many people worked to make the initiative successful. I am grateful to work on a campus where colleagues seek to be more Christ-centered in everything they do.

soccercamp_550.jpg

The Huntington University men’s soccer team partnered with Mainstreet Church in Walbridge, Ohio, to host the Onside Soccer Camp August 11-14. Two coaches and 23 players worked with 86 children, ages 4-13. The children participated in drills, games and team time activities. This is the second camp the team has organized for the church and the community.

“Not only do we share the game of soccer, but we also have an opportunity each night to share our faith with the children,” said Russ Lawson, head coach of the Huntington men’s soccer team. “This stretches most of our players and moves them out of their comfort zones. This week also allows us to learn more about each other and prepare for the season with a handful of training sessions.”

Lawson added that Cathy Burson, children’s ministry director for Mainstreet Church, and her staff volunteers “do an amazing job of taking care of us.”