Pillar Five: Increase Our Cultural Impact Through Our Faculty

[T]hose individuals who do believe that the Bible is a source of truth about the fundamental issues of life must assume a scholarly idealism in their life and work, and present their views when and where it is appropriate, in the spirit and humility – dare we say the intelligence? – of Christ. — Dallas Willard, University of Southern California [i]

HBU’s faculty features a number of veteran professors who have worked tirelessly to mentor students for decades. Younger faculty members also carry on the tradition of developing students’ knowledge and abilities to the fullest by maintaining high standards. We have always been a school with a heavy teaching load for faculty. While teaching will continue to be the central mission of our university, so that the graduates of the university will always be the primary reward of a job well done, HBU is ready to develop another key facet of the learning experience.

We will continue to hire faculty who are committed to teaching, but have other academic gifts as well. They are also capable of influencing the world with their scholarship. Great professors teach, but they also never stop learning. What they learn, they can publish. Much of the research scholars do rolls out into medical work, business, law, economics, government, diplomacy, and a variety of other pursuits. At HBU, we have a tradition of outstanding faculty, and we want to enable them to spend more time making a positive impact on world culture by supporting them in their research and development.

What this goal means in terms of vision is that we plan to find ways for our faculty to spend more time writing and doing research. We think it is good stewardship to have Christian academics focusing their efforts outward into the culture at the same time they are teaching and mentoring students on the campus. The best model for a university is to have professors who not only are doing significant research and publishing, but are also devoted to teaching. Thus, undergraduates have the benefit of professors who are engaged in the most significant questions of the day. The old debate about teaching versus research is misplaced, for neither teaching nor research is the ultimate goal; rather, it is the learning experience of the student that is primary. Thus, teaching, research, publication, performance, and artistic endeavors are all means to the end of providing both undergraduates and graduate students the finest possible learning experience. Further, those faculty who have a publishing record are facilitating a learning experience not only for wider audiences, but also inter-generationally as their artistic works, compositions, and published monographs and essays live even beyond their own lifetimes.

In order to facilitate this transition toward more freedom for our faculty to publish, present papers at conferences, perform research, and offer expert opinions, we intend to make a series of academic and operational moves over the next 10‐12 years. HBU will increase the budget available for professional development of faculty members. We will find ways to fund sabbaticals, reduced teaching loads, and trips to national conferences. Part of that funding will occur through securing government funds, foundation grants, or private grants and scholarships for research. We will work to generate investments by donors for endowed chairs. HBU will also develop academic centers (a Center for the Study of Christianity and the State, for example) which will be able to pay a portion of a professor’s salary through current funds or endowment in order to support research and writing activities. As our professors engage in more research and publication, HBU will promote our faculty members’ expertise in various fields to the media. This marketing of our professors’ efforts will lead to a substantial growth in news stories featuring the work of HBU faculty and their students, thus enhancing our ability to recruit the best and brightest students nationally. It will also burnish our institutional reputation.

Making improvements to the teaching enterprise will continue to be central to the university’s mission. Many faculty members feel that moving from a double major system to a major/minor system would enable them to design more rigorous and competitive majors for students. We will study that possibility to determine whether it is needed in order to have majors comparable to the best offered anywhere in the nation. We will also promote interdisciplinary conversation between faculty and students in order to encourage a community of scholarship rather than a series of isolated cells tailored to narrow specialization.

Teaching and research which reinforce strong scholarship on campus and in the community will enable our Christian academics to be truly as “salt” and “light” in the culture alongside the students they serve. This is the future for faculty at HBU.

[i] From the edited book The Bible and the University, Zondervan, 2007.