Why Choose a UM School

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President's Perspective

By Walter Kimbrough

Lucrative But Lost

The magazine industry­ interests me, especially with regard to rankings. It seems these days they attempt to capitalize on rankings that purport to provide factual data the consumer desires. The strategy is smart to a degree, as America has a love affair with rankings, but only certain ones. We highly debate the BCS football rankings every year while never mentioning how our nation continues its slide in the world in terms of educating our children.

Our misplaced priorities revealed themselves in a recent ranking by Kiplinger’s of the “worst majors for your career.” Using a set of metrics which they determined, ten majors were identified that would damage your career, generate low pay, and may have higher levels of unemployment.

There was little surprise using these metrics that majors such as philosophy and religion, English, film, and fine arts made the list. The humanities, fields which speak to the human condition, are viewed as less valuable because they don’t generate enough money. But I ask, enough money for what?

We have a consume-at-all-costs culture which causes us to spend recklessly, using our resources in an attempt to somehow buy happiness. And the sad fact is that people aren’t any happier even with all of the material goods they possess.

Back in March of 2003, the editors of Fast Company magazine had it right when they wrote “We are better paid, better fed, and better educated than ever. Yet the divorce rate has doubled, the teen suicide rate has tripled, and depression has soared in the past 30 years. The conclusion is inescapable: Our lifestyles are packed with more stuff, but we lead emptier lives. We’re consuming more but enjoying it less.”

As president of a United Methodist-related university, I value all fields of study that students select. My overall goal is for them to find something that they love doing, that they would do for free, and then find a way to be paid for that work. If they love their work, they will lead fulfilling lives. Yes, in this hyper-consumer culture some will have to live a lifestyle different than the one the advertisers in Kiplinger’s Personal Finance want them to purchase.

We have all heard the Scripture (Mark 8:36) – “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” What good is it for young women and men to simply pursue careers to make the most money possible, only to find themselves alone, afraid, and angry?

I can appreciate what Kiplinger’s does. But this nation at this moment needs something different. We need people who are fulfilled in their careers so they can live fulfilled and meaningful lives. I pray that my students find their purpose and live it to the fullest.

Kimbrough is president of Dillard University, one of the 11 historically Black colleges and universities supported by the Black College Fund of The United Methodist Church.

Hear what students at our UM-related schools, colleges, and universities have to say:

Alumna Perspective: Faith on a UM-Related Campus

By Melanie Overton

I attended a United Methodist-related college because it was located only 30 miles from my home, and the scholarship package I received made it quite affordable. The school’s relationship to the church was, at best, a marginal consideration, as I was not a member of The United Methodist Church.

The ensuing four years were transformative. I experienced the intellectual, social, ethical, and emotional growth that most small, liberal arts colleges excel at cultivating in their students. I developed skills in oral and written communication, critical thinking, analytical reasoning, and organizing and evaluating information. These competencies have been central to the development of my own career path. This is what a liberal arts education provides, even in a difficult job market.

Elizabeth Austin gathers with other students from the last graduating class of Lambuth University in Jackson, Tenn. UMNS photos by Mike DuBose.

A United Methodist-related higher education, however, is distinguished first by how the campus community approaches faith. Rather than isolating faith as a co-curricular endeavor or mandating a particular set of beliefs, United Methodist-related colleges and universities provide courses and co-curricular programs that enable students to delve into questions of meaning and purpose. They take this journey in the company of supportive faculty, administrators, peers, and – often – members of local United Methodist congregations.

You can also identify a United Methodist-related community by its systemic commitment to service. United Methodist-related campuses provide ideal settings for students to analyze social structures and develop the robust faith and interpersonal skills needed to improve the world around them. Thoughtful, faithful students, faculty, and administrators on these campuses take seriously the admonition often attributed to John Wesley:

Do all the good you can.

By all the means you can.

In all the ways you can.

In all the places you can.

At all the times you can.

To all the people you can.

As long as ever you can.

As I visit United Methodist-related institutions on behalf of the UMC’s University Senate, it is a privilege to see members of each community bubbling over with excitement about the ways in which students are growing on their campuses. While each of these campuses is unique, each is also marked by a distinctive blend of excellence in academics, commitment to community, and intentional faith development that is decidedly United Methodist.

Overton is assistant general secretary for Schools, Colleges, and Universities in GBHEM’s Division of Higher Education. 

A Collegiate Minister’s Perspective: The Right Fit

By Tim Moore

In her article “Soul Searching: Students Can Make College Search a Spiritual Journey,” Mary Jacobs writes, “When you get a sense of how faith fits into a campus, you get a better sense of the community as a whole.”[1] She is right.  Understanding how faith fits into a campus community is essential.

Faith’s fit discloses the value that an institution places on educating the whole person, because education is not just about relaying data. It is an exercise in self-transformation to prepare us for world alteration – on grand and modest scales – through gaining insights, data, skills, and techniques. Education’s primary objective is to change us.

Education and faith, it seems, have a lot in common. After all, isn’t faith but another way of saying change, change from one way of being to another, from one way of seeing the world to another, from one set of loves to another? The more central the role of faith, the more profound and sacred the transformation possible . . . be our task education or community service or raising a family.

Our denomination has always intuitively sensed this vital connection between a robust faith and deep, transformative learning.

Nearly 300 years ago, two young brothers – John and Charles Wesley – and their university friends gathered regularly for prayer, Bible study, and mutual support at Oxford University. This self-described “Holy Club” recognized at its inception the indelible connection between intellectual pursuit and spiritual discipline. For them and ultimately for the church that emerged from that Oxford gathering, one could never be adequately realized without the other.

Education is central to the history and ministry of our faith. But, our denomination has always understood that faith is central to our education because education is about the transformation of the whole self – body, mind, and spirit.

United Methodist-related colleges and universities don’t have to be reminded to welcome faith into our conversations, to promote the spiritual as a fundamental interlocutor in our efforts at self and world transformation. This is simply part of who we are and how we seek to engage each other, our academic disciplines, and the world around us. Recent research has begun to convince the rest of the educational world of what the church has always known, that “examining personal values, meaning, purpose – including religious and spiritual values – should be part of the educational experience.”[2] The best education requires intentional spiritual exploration, the kind of exploration our colleges and universities of the church come by naturally.

The role of faith, then, acts as a barometer of an institution’s capacity to educate in truly deep and transformative ways.

Moore is campus minister and director of the Office of Religious Life at Young Harris College.

Hear what students at our UM-related schools, colleges, and universities have to say: 

 

[1] Mary Jacobs, “Soul Searching: Students Can Make College Search a Spiritual Journey,” The United Methodist Reporter, March 12, 2010.

[2] Arthur Chickering, et. al., Encouraging Authenticity and Spirituality in Higher Education, (John Wiley and Sons, 2006) 2. 

 

Why Choose a United Methodist-Related College?

By Kelsey Warns

I cannot make the choice for you to come to a United Methodist-related college, but I can tell you about my experience when I transferred to Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell, South Dakota, from a public university. I chose to come to a UM-related college because I knew that I would have the opportunity to grow in my faith with fellow students who shared my beliefs, and I knew that I would be cared about. The difference between the two schools has been incredible, especially in regard to the development of my faith.

Although I made connections with people at my previous school, I am able to have much deeper relationships with students and teachers at DWU because we share beliefs and values, despite different religious backgrounds.  You can tell that the staff and faculty really care about you—not just about your grades and well-being, but how it is with your soul. They care to know that you are having the best possible experience that you can and that you are taken care of when you are away from home.

One of my favorite things about going to a United Methodist-related university is the worship service we have every week. I love being able to join together with fellow students and faculty to worship our Lord and Savior. It is an amazing sight to see everyone worshipping God together wholeheartedly. Another one of my favorite things is Bible study. This allows students to share their struggles and to develop with each other as God’s children. I know that I can go to other students and teachers to help me with any dilemmas and that they will truly care about me and the outcome. In difficult times, the campus community comes together in support, and you find students offering anything that is needed.

I have been so welcomed since coming to Dakota Wesleyan University, and I feel at home here. The religious atmosphere has furthered the growth and development of my faith—I am learning how to love, give, forgive, have compassion, connect, and much more. There are certain classes that the university requires students to take to help them mature in their faith and find out what it is they truly believe.

The opportunities here have been great, too; professors have recommended me for internships that will help me gain experience in my field. You can tell the professors and faculty really care about how you are doing, where you are going, and helping you to achieve your goals.

If you are seeking a school with these attributes, I highly recommend a United Methodist-related college.

Warns is a student at Dakota Wesleyan University, Mitchell, S.D.

A UM-Related College Means Connectional Relationships, Lifelong Love of Learning

By Palmer Cantler

Wofford College plaque
Wofford College plaque
During my junior year of high school, I began the college search, knowing that I wanted a liberal arts education, so I began looking at similar schools. It quickly became clear, that a United Methodist college was something I was searching for. For me, finding the right school meant walking on campus and feeling like I was home. My school, Wofford College, because of its relationship with The United Methodist Church, has this atmosphere. Why?

The United Methodist Church is connectional.

One of the fears that students enter college with is that they will not find friends and be accepted. This need for acceptance makes the culture shock of freshman year so difficult. I have found that at a United Methodist-related college, this was not a problem. While not every student is Methodist, it is easy to find people with common experiences. I have friends who grew up in much the same way I did and share my values, especially those that I learned at church. However, just like every college campus, diversity is widespread. The United Methodist Book of Resolutions calls for “better relationships . . . on the basis of informed understanding, critical appreciation, and balanced perspective of one another’s basic beliefs”. This emphasis on informed understanding, critical appreciation, and a balanced perspective is highly valued on a United Methodist-related college campus between people of all different backgrounds. When a person says that The United Methodist Church is connectional, they often are only pointing to the relationships between districts, conferences, and the local church. But, as evidenced at a United Methodist-related college, being connectional goes beyond that to connect people from all walks of life with a common goal of education.

The United Methodist Church encourages education.            

The United Methodist Church puts a great emphasis on education and a lifelong pursuit of knowledge. I receive scholarship support from my local church, college, and the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, which tells me that my education is worth it. At a United Methodist-related college, there is no doubt that students and their future accomplishments are valued and important. Through the availability of scholarships and willingness of mentors, United Methodist-related institutions promote learning and an informed perception of the world.

So what does this all add up to? An institution of higher education that encourages connectional relationships, informed understanding, and a lifelong love of learning. That is why I chose a United Methodist-related college. But don’t just take my word for it. Go see for yourself. You may just find your new home.

Cantler is from Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C.           

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