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    Creating a Moral Compass

    In preparing students for effective careers, development of character and moral leadership is a priority at Christian colleges.

    Randall Frame

    It has been said that God gave human beings two ears but only one mouth in order to remind those who follow him that we ought to be doing a lot more listening than talking. Indeed, one could make a case that listening ranks at the top of the list of underappreciated skills and practices. This applies to contexts ranging from marriages to church business meetings to community gatherings to public debates on foreign policy.

    It seems, however, that no one had to convince Paul R. Corts, the former president of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU), about the importance of listening. In June of 2006, Corts initiated his CCCU presidency by embarking on a "listening tour" of CCCU schools. As reported on the CCCU's website, the tour consisted of phone conversations with nearly 30 people in 30 days. Corts heard from current and former members of the CCCU board of directors, as well as from longterm CCCU institution presidents and a few "prominent friends of Christian higher education."

    Among other things, Corts wanted these people to express not only their thoughts about the council, but also their hopes and dreams for their own institutions and for the Christian college movement in general. After finishing the tour, Corts took his turn to speak. Following is some of what he said:

    "The overriding aspiration [of CCCU member institutions] was to have a really significant impact on our culture. A lot of people voiced a great concern for our nation's moral character and values. So character development, moral leadership, providing a moral compass were all hopes of those I interviewed. Our institutions want to turn out leaders in all aspects of life."

    The fact that much remains to be done should in no way imply that not much has been done to this point. For decades, Christian colleges and universities have been turning out men and women who, as followers of Jesus Christ, have functioned as salt and light in the marketplaces of ideas and in society's spheres of influence. They are teachers, businesspersons, scientists, doctors, pastors, lawyers, politicians, social workers, and more. They are also fathers and mothers who are active as volunteers with community organizations and in their school districts. As concerned as many are about the current state of our culture, one can only imagine what things might be like were it not for the leavening influence of Christian people through the years.

    The collective impact of Christians is difficult to quantify or measure precisely. But anyone who has seen from up close how those who follow Christ "conduct their business" in the classroom, in front of a television camera, in the halls of Congress, or in some other context, knows that they are making a difference. And many times—perhaps more often than not—we have Christian colleges and universities to thank.

    A Clear and Focused Vision

    As evidenced by the sentiments reflected and expressed by Paul Corts, however, much remains to be done. The challenge to inject moral values into the veins of our society remains a daunting one. Fortunately, all indications are that CCCU institutions understand the nature of the challenge.

    The mission statement of Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Illinois, for example, states that the school exists to provide a university-level liberal arts education "with a Christian purpose." It continues, "Our mission is to provide high-quality academic instruction for the purpose of personal development, career and professional readiness, and the preparation of individuals for lives of service to God and humanity."


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