Words from Wood-Mar
Defining a high-quality education
What makes a university one of high quality?
It’s a question I ponder often, along with the related questions of how to define quality and who makes the determination. And, I have the feeling that part of the discussion is that one never really “arrives.”
For some, an outstanding athletic team is enough. Some universities are well-known — and are assumed to have topquality programs — because their athletic teams are nationally recognized. Others want their school or department to stand out in U.S. News and World Report and other rankings. In this culture, what does it mean that George Fox University offers outstanding education to our students?
Accrediting agencies want to know if the university accomplishes its stated mission. Our most recent review said we do exceptionally well at this. It’s a measure of our quality. George Fox’s mission always has been “to demonstrate the meaning of Jesus Christ by offering a caring educational community in which each individual may achieve the highest intellectual and personal growth, and by participating responsibly in our world’s concerns.” Our community makes its decisions in light of this mission. It is “front and center” when the faculty make program decisions and when the president’s cabinet and the board of trustees meet.
Often the real issue is not actually one of quality itself, but relates to image and perceptions. Where are we in the lists and polls? How are we perceived by potential students — are we “cool?” How are we viewed by parents and potential donors? During the last two years, George Fox has significantly changed its marketing materials to more accurately present the university to its constituencies. Our goal has been to be honest and effective. The materials have won significant awards for presentation and quality. But, more importantly, prospective students have responded well to these efforts as indicated by an all-time high in applications.
To improve program quality, each year we seek to provide better facilities and equipment. Currently, we are working to move George Fox University to new levels through capital improvements in several areas:
- purchase of the property currently owned by Providence Newberg Hospital;
- expansion and renovation of Hoover Academic Building;
- construction of a new residence hall;
- development of new outdoor athletic facilities.
These changes to the Newberg campus will bring significant quality changes to the university. It is no surprise that these improvements require money. We need our friends to support the university in these efforts at a time when fund-raising is increasingly difficult and at a time when George Fox education is more important than ever to our society. Please work with us to bring George Fox University to the highest possible quality for the sake of the Kingdom of God.
Dr. David Brandt