Turning the Century

Turning the CenturyIn 1997, on recommendation of the College's Community of Educators and the Institutional Planning Committee, the Board of Trustees adopted a new strategic plan for Messiah College. The strategic initiatives envisioned for the forthcoming years reflect several ideals—or "thematic priorities" —to which the College is committed. Some of these priorities are brought forward from the College's recent past while others are newer to the life of the College. These two groups are referred to respectively as "continuing commitments" and "emerging focal points."

Continuing Commitments

In approaching its mission, the College remains committed to three ideas rooted in the College's past, which are foundational and essentially unchanging. These principles have guided the College in its recent history and must continue as important areas of influence in the future even as each one of them is re-emphasized and revitalized.

Reconciling Faith. The fundamental continuing commitment of Messiah College is to remain true to our name, a college of the Messiah. Our motto "Christ Preeminent" reiterates this; we believe and teach that Jesus Christ—in his life and teachings, in his death and resurrection—is the incarnation of the way, the truth and the life of God. Members of the College community affirm that God in Christ is reconciling the world to renewed relationship with God, and has called us to be the agents or servants of this reconciling faith, hope, and love.

Messiah's mission, in turn, is to educate men and women who will serve their God through myriad vocations. To this end, the College is both rigorously academic and unapologetically Christian. As a community of Christian scholars, at Messiah we are committed to being transformed by the renewing of our minds so that we "may discern what is the will of God —what is good and acceptable and perfect" (Romans 12:2). To develop such a mature faith, the College pursues a unified Christian world view and lifestyle that joins revelation with rational inquiry and experience, and which integrates believing with being and doing.

Because the human personality is multidimensional, including the body, mind and soul, every area of Messiah's well-rounded curricular and cocurricular programming is integrally related to nurturing a mature faith. The College also designs programming specifically to promote the spiritual growth and development of its members, to encourage corporate prayer and worship, to reverence and enjoy God's creation, to dedicate our intellectual and social resources for the common good, and to provide mutual support for sharing the healing Gospel of Jesus with those both near and afar. The Messiah is Messiah College's foundation, and educating servants of the Messiah is our purpose.

Holistic Excellence. Everything we are and do is ultimately to give glory and honor to God. The pursuit of excellence is a Christian virtue. Messiah College is committed to excellence and high standards of performance, with expectations for outstanding quality in all areas of campus life. Excellence is expected from each member of the Messiah community and is also to be reflected in each program and activity of every department and in the corporate culture we embody. Messiah's excellence must be constantly monitored and appraised, yet also tempered with the humility due all human activity and institutions.

To achieve excellence, the College is committed to recruiting the highest caliber personnel who are broadly educated, well-qualified in their discipline or profession and personally committed to the Christian faith and Messiah's mission. Providing effective resources for professional development and maintaining high expectations for each person's contributions to the mission of the College encourages the pursuit of excellence. Increasing selectivity in student admissions also contributes to excellence. The College, in turn, seeks to promote and support the best efforts of all its students toward the development of their intellect, character, and faith.

To achieve excellence, the College is committed to creating a climate which optimizes the gifts of each person and encourages mutual cooperation across the campus. Furthermore, the College limits its activities and programs to those which contribute most effectively to the mission of the College. Excellence in educational programs will best be attained as the College's energies and resources are focused, believing that it is best to do a few things well than to do many things in a mediocre manner. Excellence is thus a gauge in all areas for what Messiah is and does.

Faithful Stewardship. Faithful Christian stewardship encompasses human, economic and environmental dimensions. Messiah College is an asset to Christian higher education which will require continuing alert management and stewardship. Our exceptionally beautiful campus and excellent facilities require the most careful campus planning, management and maintenance. Longer-term consideration in developing this college environment should take precedence over short-term expediency.

Messiah's tradition of careful and responsible fiscal and resource management remains critical to our future. Stewardship of limited resources requires careful planning with attention to shaping financial commitments, facilities development and personnel assignments in keeping with programmatic priorities. Continuing dependence upon tuition-generated revenue adds further stewardship responsibility. In order to assure that the College will be as financially accessible as possible yet increasingly excellent simultaneously, Messiah must continually increase giving by major donors, philanthropic organizations and other friends of Christian college education. Evidence of faithful stewardship is basic to such generosity.

Human resources are ultimately the most essential contributor to a quality education experience. Messiah must continue to provide effectively for the well-being and growth of all its employees, assuring appropriate responsibilities and adequate compensation. Messiah must also continually refine its administrative systems for efficiency and responsiveness to the College's mission and program priorities, improve its support and services to students towards nurturing their God-given gifts, and ensure adequate and appropriate physical and technological facilities and service levels to both staff and students.

The College has been blessed with extensive and excellent resources which have facilitated its recent growth, both in quality and quantity of programs and personnel. We recognize these as gifts from God. Messiah is committed to honor God through continuing faithful stewardship.

Emerging Focal Points

The priorities noted below outline the emphases which we agree should increasingly engage the College's educational mission in the years ahead. These priorities draw upon the College's heritage, are consistent with the College's present and potential resources, and reflect the vision brought to the College by its present administration. When balanced with the College's continuing commitments, these emerging foci will guide the College with specific programs and initiatives which are sensitive to its mission and appropriate at this point in the College's history.

Promoting Student Learning. Throughout its history, Messiah College has demonstrated a commitment to education of the whole person. Education of this nature, collectively and in its individual components, is central to the Messiah College learning environment. While the College has been effective in these areas in the past, we believe with new initiatives we can further improve the quality of student learning through both the curriculum and co-curriculum. Applying the College's resources and efforts in this manner will enable us to prepare our students to become effective servant-leaders in their individual professions, civic associations, and church communities. Our goal is to foster increased student learning in each program area, to assess the effectiveness of these endeavors, and to respond in ways which will continually improve the quality of learning.

Advancing Scholarship and Teaching. As a Christian college we are an extension of the Church and a servant of the larger society. One aspect of this service is fulfilled as we foster the intellectual and artistic development of our students and prepare them for both productive careers and dynamic lives. In addition, we are responsible to contribute to the advancement of scholarship generally, within the Church, within the academic disciplines, and within society. Scholarship and artistic creativity, from a Christian perspective, are much needed in our world. Our goal is to recruit capable scholars to join our campuses, to foster effective teaching by the faculty, to promote scholarship by all College educators, and to provide structures which will advance Messiah College as a national center for scholarship and artistic creativity.

Fostering Community. Community is experienced through many areas of the College program and life—intellectual, spiritual, and social. As the College community becomes more diverse, increased and deliberate efforts are needed to cultivate common experiences. Numerous small and larger group activities can enhance a distinctive campus culture and identity; examples of these include personal relationships, athletic activities, artistic exhibits and performances, worship services, classroom instruction, leadership development, and service opportunities. These and other activities support and embellish our corporate life. Our goal is to facilitate active expressions of campus community by promoting nurture and accountability in ways which are intellectually coherent, socially alert, and spiritually sensitive.

Embracing Diversity. Messiah College recognizes the pluralistic nature of both society at large and the Body of Christ specifically. In addition, we acknowledge that Scripture teaches that God's redemptive love is open to all people. While the College cannot fully reflect the diversity and richness of all social traditions or even of the Christian Church worldwide, we consider it vitally important that our College community be sensitive to and representative of the larger whole. We seek to affirm and engage the multi-ethnic nature of North American and international culture, and to invite Christians from the myriad expressions of the Church to join this educational community. Because we recognize all people as God's creatures, our goal is to welcome on our campuses, and include among our numbers, men and women from diverse backgrounds, knowing that each reflects the image of God in particular ways, each represents a part of the church worldwide, and each contributes to the educational richness of the College.

Enhancing Inter-Cultural Learning. As we approach the 21st century, the College recognizes anew the responsibilities of global citizenship. The College contributes to building a just society as it promotes understanding through the intellectual development, critical judgment, professional expertise, spiritual commitment and social relationships of its students—always reflecting a sensitivity to the world's diverse people and world views. In addition, we recognize that at the turn of the century over half of the world's population lives in cities. The College's historic commitment to education in Philadelphia, even while maintaining its primary campus in Grantham, has provided opportunity for our students to engage the multi-cultural context of the contemporary urban setting. Today the College needs to approach the challenge of inter-cultural learning and service—in villages and cities in America and internationally —with a renewed and expanded vision and commitment. Our goal is to provide all students, as part of their Messiah College program, with the opportunity to communicate with, live alongside, learn from, and serve among people in diverse ethnic, linguistic, and cultural settings beyond the Grantham campus.

Expanding Institutional Leadership. Fulfilling the objectives of this plan will position Messiah as a prominent Christian college. Those programs and initiatives which elevate the College's leadership role in Christian higher education should, generally, receive priority in the implementation process. The College must deliberately communicate nationally—with the public generally and the Christian Church specifically—our distinctive identity and mission. An enhanced reputation and expanded national visibility will draw students from a wider geographic region, increase selectivity in student admissions, and attract strong faculty. In addition, expanded national leadership in higher education will increase the perceived value of a Messiah education, opening for our graduates new employment and service opportunities. Our goal is to develop programs which will enhance the College's leadership role in higher education and its development as an academically rigorous and unapologetically Christian institution.