Entrepreneurial Project at Women's Christian College in Chennai
CUAC and the Pandemic
Episcopal College Heads Meet in New York
As denominational identity weakens, the role of “open door” chaplains grows greater
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry
Eleven presidents and chaplains from the Association of Episcopal Colleges (AEC) met in New York City in January to exchange ideas on what an Episcopal college might look like in the new decade. The consensus seemed to be that a traditional Episcopal identity is becoming increasingly difficult to maintain among students…but that the need for a Christian-inflected, values-based education grows more urgent by the day.
Here are some take-aways from the two-day meeting:
With the notable exception of the University of the South (Sewanee), few of the AEC’s ten member institutions attract many students who identify as Episcopalian. And even at Sewanee that cohort is shrinking. Overall, the affiliation is often so understated, a good number of students graduate unaware that they have been attending a historically Episcopalian institution for the past four years.
On the other hand, the role played by Episcopal clergy as college chaplains is rapidly growing, as chaplaincies redefine themselves as less denomination-based or liturgical and more “open door.” Chaplains of all faiths play a huge role in counseling and mentoring undergraduates in today’s American colleges and universities.
The secularization of American culture since the 1950s is unlikely to diminish, despite the great variety of this country’s faith-based educational institutions, including the large number of them that are intensely evangelical. The trend, especially among college graduates born since 1970, is to avoid identification with traditional religious structures or dogma-based systems of belief.
Yet at the same time the number of young people who think of themselves as “spiritual” remains high, however difficult it is to pin people down on what they mean by that term. This phenomenon is linked to a lack of religious literacy in general among undergraduates. As one chaplain said, she is often the first member of any clergy some of her students have ever met. Another reported an almost total ignorance of the basic Biblical narratives, including the Jesus story. What information such students have about religion, she said, is a media-based “throw all Christians into a box” narrative in which all churches are fundamentalist, anti-intellectual, homophobic, and anti-abortion.
Yet the mere presence of an approachable chaplain on campus draws students into conversation, often over food. Sometimes these are young people whose parents identify as “nones” and hence who are curious about beliefs they never heard mentioned at home.
As Presiding Bishop Michael Curry told the group in an hour-long q & a session, “people will respond to the Gospel if they can see it.” He described the Christian educational community as being “in the middle of a reformation, a creative opportunity that could lead to a change of consciousness.”
He pled for “a permission to experiment. Some will succeed, some will fail, but the only way to progress is to reclaim a kind of riskiness.”
The AEC is the United States chapter of CUAC. Its members are Sewanee, Kenyon, Bard, Hobart and William Smith, St. Augustine’s (Chicago), St. Augustine University (Raleigh NC), Vorhees, Trinity University of Asia (Manila), Cuttington University (Liberia), and the Université d’Haiti (Port-au-Prince). The overseas member institutions were founded by American missionaries and retain strong links with this country. Charles Calhoun
AEC 2020 Annual Meeting: from left, The Revd Tom Macfie, Sewanee, Mrs. Julia DeLashmutt, CUAC, Dr. Gaddis Faulcon, St. Augustine’s, AEC Secretary Dr. Scott Evenbeck, Guttman Community College, Dr. Lucien Bernard, Université Episcopale d’Haiti, Canon Jamie Callaway, CUAC, The Revd James Yarsiah, Voorhees, AEC President Dr. John M. McCardell, Jr., Sewanee, The Most Revd Michael B. Curry, Episcopal Church, The Revd Nita Byrd, Hobart and William Smith, The Revd Sallie Simpson, St. Augustine’s, Dr. Sean Decatur, Kenyon, Dr. Joyce Jacobson, Hobart, and The Revd Mary Grace Williams, Bard. (Photo Frederic Spitz). The following were elected as officers of the AEC: Dr. Sean Deatur of Kenyon President, Dr. Joyce Jacobsen of Hobart and William Smith, Vice President and Dr. Scott Evenbeck of Guttman, Secretary.
Student Entrepreneurs in Chennai
Women's Christian College in Chennai, Tamil Nadu, is promoting entrepreneurship following the Indian Government's direction to make students aware of opportunities for a wider range of employment.
Students of WCC are showing their principal, Dr Lilian Jasper their new E-Store
WCC Principal Lilian Jasper Reports:
An Entrepreneurship Awareness Camp was held at Women’s Christian College in October 2019, a three-day program sponsored by Department of Science and Technology, DST-NIMAT and organized by Blaze, E-cell of WCC. The sole aim of the camp was to brief the final year students in science and technology streams about entrepreneurship as an alternative for career option. The camp included various speakers who shared their experience on various topics with the students who are budding entrepreneurs. Apart from these lectures, the participants were taken on an Industrial Field Trip to Mother Teresa Women’s Complex, where they interacted with women entrepreneurs and got a glimpse of what it is like to be one!
The Rise organized its 3rd Global Summit in association with Blaze, the Entrepreneurship Cell of Women’s Christian College, for aspiring Tamil Entrepreneurs and Professionals in November 2019. More than 1,000 delegates from more than 30 countries (USA, UK, Qatar, Dubai, Nigeria, Malaysia, Burma, Sri Lanka, Canada to name few) participated in the event. The delegates were politicians, corporate honchos, entrepreneurs and business heads of various institutions.
The Summit was useful for the participants to meet, network and strike deals with successful Tamil entrepreneurs and professionals. The students also actively participated in the events associated with their subjects and learnt a lot about various fields of interests, emerging technologies, and future models of their chosen fields.
The playground was covered with stalls, and a huge stage was set-up to accentuate the grandeur of the event. The event was a success, and the hosts highly praised the college, the Principal, the Entrepreneurship Cell and its coordinator for their tireless support.
The E-Store of WCC was inaugurated in December 2019 to encourage student entrepreneurship. The E-Store is operating with the core objective to inculcate in the students the attributes of buying, selling, and marketing of goods. The store is now functioning as a shop which caters to the needs of the students, such as stationeries, toiletries, and decorative items. The store also encourages and nurtures any new ventures by students.
There was an Entrepreneurship Stall put up in the campus by the students of the Department of Commerce for the purpose of exploring their entrepreneurship skills and raising funds towards a workshop. (shown below)
In a nutshell, the workshop was a major motivational factor for the students who attended it. It laid a foundation for the thought that there are numerous platforms that can be used to build entrepreneurship skills and pursue this passion.
CUAC 10th Triennial International Conference
THE PROMISE AND DANGER OF TECHNOLOGY FOR CHRISTIAN HIGHER EDUCATION
-- Rescheduled to 2021 --
CUAC and the Pandemic
When it was announced last year, the theme for CUAC’s 2020 Triennial may have sounded like just a catchy phrase – “Saved by Technology? The Promise and Danger of Technology for Christian Higher Education.” Yet we are being saved every hour of the day now as digital technology enables us to continue to work, teach, pray, and keep in virtual touch with colleagues, friends, and families.
The Triennial at Whitelands College in London has been postponed until 2021. In the meantime, CUAC will continue to explore the possibilities of this new world of connectedness – as a global network this sort of endeavor is second nature to us.
Look in the months ahead for details of the emerging CUAC Commons, a work in progress that will empower us to redefine the nature of how colleges and universities with a shared religious history connect in a post-pandemic world. The dangers of technology have not vanished. Yet there is a new spirit of optimism, amid so much tragic news, in the discovery that technology offers us a lifeline we are only beginning to appreciate.
Please let us know not only how your institution is faring but what it is doing in this very new world.
In January, Professor Eunice Simmons left her post as Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Nottingham Trent University to become Vice Chancellor of the University of Chester, succeeding Professor Tim Wheeler. She is a biologist with a PhD in forest ecology and conservation and a special interest in sustainable environments, ranging from Malaysian rain forests to Kent downland.
Dr Reuben E. Brigety II will become the 17th Vice Chancellor and President of the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, on August 1. He is the dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs at The George Washington University in D.C. and former U.S. Ambassador to the African Union. The Tennessean reports: “Brigety will help helm a school with historical ties to slavery but that has also strived for decades to become more diverse and inclusive.”
Ms Blesilda F. Torralba, MN, has become CEO of Brent Hospital and Colleges Inc. in Zamboanga City. Founded in 1914, Brent is a leader in its field in nursing and community medicine education in the southern Philippines.
The Rev. Thomas E. Macfie Jr., University of the South Chaplain and Dean of All Saints’ Chapel, will complete his work as chaplain at the end of the 2020 academic year. Macfie was appointed chaplain at Sewanee in 2006 and dean of the Chapel in 2010.
“The Episcopal Church and the University of the South have been the defining institutions of my life,” said Macfie. “I mark these years as chaplain and dean of All Saints’ Chapel as the pinnacle of my service as a priest of our church.”
“Tom has served the Episcopal Church and the University of the South in invaluable ways, and his devotion to our students and the entire community has been unmatched,” said Sewanee Vice Chancellor John McCardell. “His care and his counsel will be greatly missed.”
Macfie has been a member of the Sewanee community for almost all of the last 43 years. He holds B.A. (1980) and M.Div. (1989) degrees from the University of the South. He served in the University’s Office of Admission from 1984 to 1986, and as rector of Otey Parish from 1997 to 2006. In addition to his work during the academic year, he has performed summer work in South Africa (1985) and Uganda (2014).
As for what the future holds, “Pamela and I have some exciting endeavors in Maine that I can best pursue by spending more time on that coast,” Macfie says. “I also have a writing project that explores the connection between friendship and nature as gifts of God."
Dr Jessie Ranjitha Jebaselvi, an Associate Professor of English, has been named Chaplain at Lady Doak College, Madurai, Tamil Nadu, India. She studied at Fatima College, Madurai, and St John’s College, Palayamcottai, and earned her doctorate from the Madurai Kamaraj University. As coordinator of the Student Christian Movement on the Lady Doak campus, she has exercised an inclusive approach to help students from all strata of society emerge as leaders. Her participation in programs like the Intensive Study Programme (IASACT) sponsored by the United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia, at the Chinese University, Hong Kong, and the Advanced Leadership Program at the Haggai Institute, Hawaii, USA has honed her leadership qualities.
The Revd Hershey Mallette Stephens is the new University Chaplain and Dean of the Chapel and Spiritual Life at St Augustine’s University in Raleigh, North Carolina. She returns to her native North Carolina after serving as Associate Rector of St John’s Norwood in Chevy Chase/Bethesda, Maryland, and working in the office of the Presiding Bishop in New York City. She is a graduate of North Carolina A & T, Howard, and the General Theological Seminary.
From the General Secretary’s Desk
In search of a values-based education Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, meeting recently with Episcopal college presidents and Chaplains, began: “I am the product of one of your schools [Hobart & William Smith Colleges] -- it gave me a values-based approach to life: that sense that our life needs to be greater than the self.” This is the foundation that led to his celebrated “language of love” in his sermon at the wedding of Harry and Meghan.
About “using the language of love,” he said, “I know the risk in that, but the reality is once you move beyond sentimentality to a hard-headed commitment, you are beginning to talk about something significant. I say all that to express my deep commitment to Episcopal Colleges, because I know that what you are doing is distinctive and really matters.”
In our changing world, the CUAC network connects Episcopal and Anglican colleges to find new ways to engage this “language of love,” starting with experiences that break through the fortress of self-occupation and self-needs. This most often occurs through community engagement, where students organize to assist the broader community meet some basic human need. Such projects can be as simple as tutoring in local schools or working with community food banks, or as sophisticated as students helping set-up a credit union, as was done in a rural India. The clearest distinction in love between sentimentality and commitment is action on behalf of a neighbor. While the circumstances are always changing, the CUAC network exists to assist Anglican institutions teach the next generation the same values that shaped Michael Curry a generation ago.
Bishop Curry recognizes that religious institutions are “in tough waters now when institutional connections aren’t as tight as they used to be and aren’t going to be.” For both the church and colleges, he calls for going back to core principles: “What is the core, ask that of your institution. What was the original impulse in your founding? It’s an invitation to become who we are. Try to find the virtues that been given in the heritage and figure out how they can be lived in the present.” These are precisely the questions that the CUAC network helps our members to ask.
The Revd Canon James G. Callaway, General Secretary
FROM THE EDITOR’S DESK
From the tempest, deliver us
I was carefully taking notes during the hour Bishop Curry spent with the AEC representatives back in January when suddenly I almost dropped my pen. I kept hearing references to “children of nuns.” What? Had I missed some news flash from the Vatican? Yet no one around the conference table seemed to be in the least bit surprised. They kept talking about nuns’ children, to my bafflement.
It took a few moments, but suddenly the lightbulb flashed: children of “nones” -- the offspring of parents who when asked to check off a religious identity rather smugly, it often seems to me, mark “none of the above.” This indifference evidently isn’t hereditary. An increasing number of young people today are genuinely curious about religious belief – whether to annoy their elders or just fill in a gap in their education, I don’t know. I do know that Anglican-influenced colleges have an opening here they should be eager to explore.
This feeling that the language is moving much more quickly than I can keep up with often afflicts me these days. If I had seen the phrase “social distancing” a month ago, I might have thought it referred to our perfectly understandable urge to avoid Uncle Grumpy at coffee hour. It has now taken on an unexpected darkness. “Herd immunity” would have evoked the School of Agriculture, not the death panels. “Flattening the curve” – the School of Architecture, not the epidemiological briefing rooms.
Only today in the New York Times I learned two new words I wish I had never encountered: anosmia (the loss of the sense of smell) and ageusia (ditto for the sense of taste). Both are possible symptoms of covid-19 infection, words creeping into our lives from a terminal game of Scrabble.
Yet language also heals. Read the Litany in the stately words of the Prayer Book:
From lightning and tempest; from earthquake, fire, and flood; from plague, pestilence, and famine; from battle and murder, and from sudden death, Good Lord, deliver us.
Compass Points is published by GENERAL SECRETARY: The Revd Canon James G. Callaway, D.D. PUBLISHER: Julia DeLashmutt EDITOR: Charles C. Calhoun