Message from the President

Envisioning the Future: Helping Students ‘Be Known’

While attending the recent Lausanne Conference on World Evangelism in South Africa, I heard a story Libby Little told about husband, Tom, and nine other volunteers who were killed in Afghanistan in August. Tom, an ophthalmologist serving the poor with a Christian medical team, had his effects returned to his wife, including a blood-stained copy of his sermon to the team on their last Sunday. In it, he had talked about being “the aroma” of Christ to the world. Their deepest hope was that they would serve and make known Christ to the Afghan people.

It is our deepest desire that George Fox University produce people like Tom Little. When I look at higher education today, the evidence suggests something is missing.

In his 2007 article, “A New Professional: The Aims of Education Revisited,” Parker Palmer describes how some of the most egregious failures in our society—from corporate scandals to social injustices—are the result of educated people who “collaborate with evil” because their knowledge is detached from the human experience.

Palmer suggests college graduates are increasingly unable to “act ethically and courageously in the moment” when their highest values are threatened, in part, because of a breakdown in higher education, which too frequently devalues emotional intelligence, omits values from the learning process, and lacks discernment communities to help students process the knowledge they receive emotionally and intellectually. In this atmosphere, a college education becomes little more than knowledge-transfer.

This model of higher education is deficient for George Fox from a missional perspective, in that it doesn’t lend itself to the kind of Christ-centered education we, or our students, desire, as it tends to neglect the integration of the mind and the heart. Therefore, we are renewing our focus on educating “whole persons” by knowing our students personally, academically and spiritually. In recent conversations with our students, alumni and donors they have agreed that our focus resonates with the reasons they love George Fox. Students, faculty and staff come to George Fox because they desire to be known in these ways.

We believe the desire to be known is the hope each student brings to the college experience. It is also the key to developing the whole persons who are desperately needed to trans-form our businesses, churches and communities—graduates who are not only competent in their disciplines, but who also have the skill and the will to deal with the challenges that threaten their highest values. This is the future we feel is in keeping with our mission and our unique contribution to higher education.

We have helped prepare many graduates like Tom Little who serve Christ throughout our world. We will continue to value knowing our students in a way that transforms their lives through Christ and the life of the communities around them.

Yours in Christ,

Robin Baker