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Univ. of Mobile trustees embrace ‘distinctively Christian’ focus

MOBILE, Ala. (BP)–The University of Mobile board of trustees approved several measures April 27 to further integrate faith and learning at the Baptist-affiliated university as administration and faculty focus on what it means to be “distinctively Christian.”

The board actions formalize a direction the university has been pursuing under UM President Mark Foley’s leadership since 1998.

“We intend for this university to be known for quality scholarly engagement, leadership development and a distinctively Christian philosophy,” Foley said. “The actions taken by the board are designed to more clearly define that philosophy.”

As part of the overall guiding principles of the university, the board affirmed the inclusion of a Christian worldview into the operations and culture of the university and adopted a “Statement of Christian Affirmation.”

Foley described a “Christian worldview” as a distinctively Christian philosophical and cultural core perspective which permeates every element of the university system, from academics to administration.

The “Statement of Christian Affirmation” affirms that the institution adheres to key Christian theological beliefs regarding the nature, ethic and mission of Jesus Christ. It will accompany the university’s mission statement, philosophy statement and goals as a guide for the growth and development of the school. The statement is posted on the university’s website at www.umobile.edu.

Foley said he will appoint a faculty and staff advisory committee to explore and recommend ways to further incorporate a Christian worldview into the university system.

“We are on a journey to explore what it means to be a ‘distinctively Christian’ university, where a strong academic program combines with an intentionally Christian worldview,” Foley said. “The University of Mobile was founded in the early 1960s as a Christian college, but in a culture which has increasingly distanced itself from traditional Christian values, it is essential that we define what we mean by ‘distinctively Christian.’”

As part of that exploration, Union University President David Dockery addressed faculty and administration during a seminar on “Integrating Faith and Learning in Higher Education” on April 26. He discussed the ways the Baptist-affiliated campus in Jackson, Tenn., has incorporated a Christian worldview throughout its academic program and administrative processes.

On April 27, the board also approved a recommendation to change the name of the school of religion to the School of Christian Studies to better reflect the academic program which studies and promotes Christian evangelical church ministries from a biblical and Southern Baptist perspective. And, beginning this fall, undergraduate students will take a School of Christian Studies course titled, “Christian Worldview,” which incorporates into one course what is currently a biblical ethics course and chapel courses. In the Christian worldview course, students will explore the Christian perspective on issues such as citizenship, marriage and family, volunteerism and service, and theological/philosophical life concepts. In addition, undergraduate students will be required to complete a semester of volunteer church or community service work in order to graduate.

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