Words from Wood-Mar
The stories beyond the statistics
College presidents are good at telling stories. They usually have a memory bank full to relate the message of their institution. Some are powerful. That’s why they are told.
For example, last fall we had a note from a person who recruits accounting students for one of the Big Four accounting firms. She said that George Fox interns the summer before were the “best technically prepared.” When we asked those students if that was true, they said that what George Fox interns did better than anyone else was work effectively with supervisors — which may have appeared as being better prepared. Our students reported they learned to work with the George Fox faculty — they were colleagues, working together, rather than an “employee” listening to a “boss.”
While such stories are important and helpful to potential students, parents, or donors, accrediting agencies are not so impressed. They want statistically valid information, not stories. They want proof that students are being educated. The current primary focus of institutional reviews is assessment. Such reviews are complex tasks that all schools are required to address periodically.
Historically, George Fox, with the rest of higher education, has used information such as grades and test scores of incoming students, volumes in the library, size of endowment, and percentage of doctorates on the faculty as measures of quality. But, this still is not a measure of what happens to the individual student — how she or he grows while at the university. We are continuing to learn how to provide information that will be useful in documenting the quality of education. We are conducting tests and surveys and are beginning to use the results to change practices and procedures as we demonstrate the quality of our education to validating agencies.
In this issue of the Journal, we go beyond the numbers and tell the individual stories. For example, read about our students in the Richter Scholarship program. Along with several wellknown institutions like Yale and Dartmouth, George Fox is fortunate to have this resource. The Richter program deepens and strengthens the university’s commitment to scholarship, and the power of faculty/student collaboration is realized. In this issue you also can read about our students as they grow other than academically. Outside the classroom, on a regular basis, they are exploring creative ways to live their faith by helping others nearby and around the world.
Our stories may be anecdotal, but they show the George Fox experience beyond just the statistics. We are a Christ-centered institution committed to providing the highest possible quality education to our students as we prepare them to serve Jesus in today’s world. I encourage you to read and enjoy the stories in this Journal, then tell me your George Fox story.
Dr. David Brandt