Council for Christian Colleges and Universities
The Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU) is a higher education association of more than 180 Christian institutions, primarily in the United States and Canada. Founded in the 1970s to advance the interests of church-related colleges through government lobbying and public relations, the council also provides professional development for employees of member schools and runs the Best Semester off-campus study programs for students at nine locations around the world.
In 1976, presidents of colleges in the Christian College Consortium called a meeting in Washington, D.C. to organize a Coalition for Christian Colleges that could expand the objectives of the consortium. Representatives from 38 colleges participated in the founding meeting to establish a new organization to provide a unified voice representing the interests and concerns of Christian colleges to government decision makers and the general public. The Coalition and the Consortium shared facilities in Washington, D.C. until 1982, when the Consortium relocated to St. Paul, Minnesota and the Coalition formally incorporated as an independent organization. In 1995, the organization changed its name to the Coalition for Christian Colleges and Universities; in 1999 it changed again to the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.
The CCCU is headquartered in the historic district of Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. The Council also owns facilities in Oxford, England, for its Oxford student programmes and San Jose, Costa Rica, for its Latin American Studies Program. The CCCU leases spaces for the remaining Best Semester student programs around the world (see below). In 1989, the Council purchased the townhouse adjacent to The Dellenback Center for guest housing in its Capitol Hill location. In 1999, the Council purchased and renovated an existing townhouse to use as its main headquarters. The original two-story townhouse was constructed in the 1850s and is one of the few remaining wooden clapboard structures on Capitol Hill.
In September 2014, Shirley V. Hoogstra, J.D., was named the Council's seventh president. Before that, she was the vice president for student life at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, after having served for four years on Calvin's Board of Trustees. While at Calvin, Hoogstra also served as a cabinet member who became familiar with team building, campus-wide planning and communications. She was also the co-host of Inner Compass, a nationally televised show on PBS. She has served in a variety of volunteer leadership roles for CCCU institutes and commissions, and is the Council's first female president. The previous president, Edward O. Blews Jr., served from January 1, 2013, to October 22, 2013. William P. Robinson, former president of Whitworth University, was named the interim president before Hoogstra was appointed.
The CCCU seeks to provide a unified voice for church-related institutions of higher learning on policy matters that affect its constituency and to equip members to engage in effective advocacy on the state and local level. The advocacy agenda as of 2019 included concerns about religious liberty, institutional autonomy, student financial aid, immigration, environmental stewardship, and government regulation affecting higher education.
The CCCU provides programs and services for presidents and administrators, trustees, faculty, and students of member institutions. These include many professional development opportunities, such as annual gatherings for its college and university presidents, and annual conferences for member Chief Institutional Development Officers; Communication, Marketing and Media Officers; Chief Enrollment Officers; Chief Financial Officers; Campus Ministry Directions, and other leadership development programs. Other member services include webinars, grant-making opportunities for scholarship and research, discipline specific forums, networking communities, a tuition waver exchange program, and an online career center. Members also receive access to the Council's biannual magazine called CCCU ADVANCE, as well as regular news updates, website resources on scholarship, and information related to Christian higher education policy and issues.
The CCCU administers a number of student study programs around the world through its Best Semester programs. Its first off-campus program, the American Studies Program, was established in Washington, D.C. in the 1970s. Since then it has added a contemporary music program in Nashville and a film studies program in Los Angeles, as well as study abroad programs in Australia, Latin America, the Middle East, Northern Ireland, Oxford, England, and Uganda. More than 700 students take part in these academic programs each year, which include course work, field experiences, cross cultural events and internships. A program in Russia operated from 1994 to 2010.
The CCCU's membership includes more than 150 in the U.S. and Canada and nearly 30 more from an additional 18 countries. All members self-identify as having a Christian identity and mission. Most institutions are accredited, comprehensive colleges and universities with curricula rooted in the arts and sciences. Member institutions are divided into four major categories depending on type of institution, agreement the council's defining commitments, and geographical location.
Following a dispute in 2015 about same-sex marriage that led to eight institutions withdrawing from the council, the CCCU adopted a new membership policy that was announced in 2016 and went into effect in July 2017. The policy defined six criteria according to which affiliated schools would be designated as governing members, associate members, or collaborative partners. Schools located outside of the United States or Canada are classified as International Affiliates.
Governing Member Institutions
Governing (voting) members must fulfill all six criteria:
- Christian mission
- Institutional type and accreditation (must offer a "comprehensive undergraduate curricula rooted in the arts and sciences")
- Cooperation and participation (dues)
- Institutional integrity (financial ethics)
- Employment policies (full-time faculty and administrators must be professing Christians), and
- Christian distinctions and advocacy (must support the advocacy agenda determined by the Board of Directors, including a sexual ethic committed to heterosexual marriage, care for the marginalized and suffering, and environmental stewardship).
Associate Member Institutions
Associate members must meet all the same criteria as governing members except institutional type and accreditation. Thus, institutions that do not offer a comprehensive undergraduate program (including Bible colleges or seminaries) can be associate members.
Collaborative Partner Institutions
Collaborative partners must meet the first four criteria set for governing members (Christian mission, institutional type and accreditation, cooperation and participation, and institutional integrity), but may depart from last two: employment policies and Christian distinctions and advocacy. Institutions that do not require all of their faculty to be professing Christians and/or do not agree with all elements of the CCCU's advocacy agenda, but nevertheless wish to take part in the council's programs and partnerships, may be collaborative partners.
At the end of 2017, the CCCU had 29 affiliated institutions in 18 countries outside the United States and Canada.
In 2015, Union University and Oklahoma Wesleyan University withdrew from membership in the CCCU because of a policy change by two member institutions to hire same-sex couples. A potential split within the CCCU was avoided with the announcement on September 21, 2015 that both Goshen College and Eastern Mennonite University, the two colleges that changed their policies to hire same-sex couples, had withdrawn from the council. The council issued a statement affirming the traditional Christian view of marriage as between a man and a woman. A task force was appointed to examine the rationale for the existing associational categories plus address how to remain rooted in traditional Christianity, leading to the announcement of a new membership policy in 2016. Bluffton University also withdrew its membership in the council in December 2015 when it announced a policy change to allow hiring gay and lesbian employees.
On November 3, 2015, The Master's College announced their withdrawal from the CCCU due to the college's "concerns about the direction of the CCCU" on issues such as Creation and Evolution and same-sex marriage, stating that "the vast majority of [CCCU] member schools do not accept the Genesis account of creation or the inerrancy of Scripture". Cedarville University and Shorter University also withdrew from the council over concerns that the council's rejection of same-sex marriage was not swift or complete enough.
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