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January 9

Addressing Diversity and Attainment: How Warner Pacific Lives Out their Conviction


Fresh Approach

In the Fall/Winter 2013 issue of CCCU Advance MagazineDr. Andrea Cook, President of Warner Pacific University, presents a wonderful article entitled “Flourish! Planting a Seed to Serve Underrepresented Communities.”

The article tells the story of how Warner Pacific recognized the diversity of a changing community and responded through faith.

Dr. Cook shared that in 2008 the institution saw the need to live out their calling to serve students from diverse backgrounds. They did so through creativity and courage: tuition was lowered 23% and a partnership launched to bring the Act Six Leadership & Scholarship Initiative to the college.

The Results

In the article, Dr. Cook shares the results:

Since [2008], the seed has sprouted and Warner Pacific is growing. In the last five years, we have completely altered our institutional trajectory as we consider our strategic future. Our revenue and cost model has shifted, and we are investing much differently than before. We have pivoted our focus, and instead of hedging against the impact of the city, we are now rethinking how we serve students who otherwise would never dream of receiving a private, Christ-center liberal arts education. The shift is evidenced by the fact that this fall [2013], 52 percent of the students in our incoming freshman class are students of color, and perhaps the first time in the history of Warner Pacific, our campus community reflects the ethnic diversity of the world in which we live.

I am struck by the willingness of leadership to truly live out the convictions and values of a Christian institution and address the diversity issue directly and to do so by drastic measures that produced results rather quickly.

Not only are they meeting the needs of their community and addressing one of the major issues of attainment in today’s education landscape, but they are doing so as a response to do kingdom work.

Salt & Light

Their courage and boldness should be applauded and used as a benchmark for others to live out Matthew 5 where Jesus commands His followers to be salt and light to the world.

Today’s students are looking for authenticity such as this. We need more Christ followers willing to think differently, creatively, and with conviction to address issues of diversity, attainment, and model for the world how kingdom life can be.

Boldness to Address Issues

We need more schools committed to serving differently. More institutions must understand their brand and their mission as Warner Pacific has and commit to engaging creatively. As the change in higher education continues, schools need to embrace new and creative approaches with courage and foresight.

I recently was introduced to some creative thinking led by Bob Andringa and several influential leaders in Christian higher education who have taken the name the “Christian Higher Education Futures Panel.” In their paper, Twenty Alternative Models for Faith-Based Higher Education, the panel challenges schools to “explore a wider range of opportunities that could help each continue with a viable, sustainable, purposeful and successful future.”

Full article is provided below starting on page 11 of the embedded PDF:

Does your institution need help addressing the needs of the future? Feel free to reach out.

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