William Jewell president defends college's approach
December 20 2002 by Bob Baysinger , Baptist Press

William Jewell president defends college's approach | Friday, Dec. 20, 2002

Friday, Dec. 20, 2002

William Jewell president defends college's approach

By Bob Baysinger Baptist Press

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo.-David Sallee, president of William Jewell College, is making no apologies for what is taught, presented and portrayed at the Baptist campus in Liberty.

A recent report by Baptist Press quotes Patricia Schoenrade, the chair of the department of psychology at William Jewell, saying there is a pattern of accepting homosexuality at the college. Schoenrade issued a warning to "fellow believers" that the spiritual and intellectual souls of the students are at risk.

"The problem, as I see it, is that some Baptist persons don't like the way we do our work," Sallee told the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) executive board at its Dec. 10 meeting. "However, we believe we are doing the work we are called to do in the way we were called to do it.

"I believe that God called me to Liberty to lead William Jewell College to provide a superior education in a distinctively Christian environment. More specifically, the issue is that some people would implement the phrase 'distinctively Christian' differently than we do. At this critical time in the history of William Jewell, it must be clearly and firmly stated that we will vigorously defend both the way we do our work and the systems of governance under which we operate."

Sallee told the board members that William Jewell was founded upon - and continues to be devoted to - the model of education as exploration.

"There are some who want us to adopt the model of indoctrination, simplifying truth to easily digestible nuggets and translating it into uniform action, both personal and corporate," Sallee said.

"We cannot do that. Diversity of views, ambiguity and creative conflict are necessary parts of the enterprise of higher education. We are at our best and we serve our Baptist constituencies best when these qualities are present in the collegiate experiences of our students.

"As a result, we expect our college to address any and all topics, confident in the academic freedom we enjoy. We also expect that freedom, like every freedom, to be exercised responsibly."

Sallee told the MBC board that he believes that "every person is to follow Christ, doing so in the unique giftedness that he/she is as a unique creation of God."

"There is not one expression of the Christian life to which all of us should conform," he said. "Each of us is called to live our own unique life as an expression of Christian faith. To attempt to live the life of another would be to live without authenticity and genuineness.

"Our goal as a community is the kingdom of God. God calls us to practice love and justice in our relationships. The clearest guideline for all relationships is from Jesus, 'Love one another as I have loved you.'"

Sallee said he believes "our heritage calls us to be anchored in the ideals of Christ and the conviction that each person must choose to stand where his or her informed conscience dictates."

Concerning the homosexual debate on campus, Sallee said he thinks it is instructive for students to commit to a respectful discourse about issues which families, churches and denominations across the country are struggling.

"One of our goals is to help our students learn how to work through such difficult issues in a disciplined fashion," he said.

"We have always been a Baptist college and we plan always to be a Baptist college. We have long been a faithful partner of the Baptists of Missouri and I hope you will support our endeavors to provide a Christian education to our students."

An MBC executive board subcommittee has voted to open an inquiry into reports of a "homosexual agenda" at the school.

In a statement to Baptist Press, MBCF Executive Director David Clippard called on the William Jewell administration to respond immediately to the charges that the college has a "pro-homosexual atmosphere."

"I'm shocked that this kind of thing would be debated on a Baptist college campus," Clippard said. "... It may be a liberal arts school, but it is a liberal arts school that receives Cooperative Program dollars. I believe there needs to be some accountability to the Missouri Baptists that support them."

Sallee said in a Dec. 17 press release that governance of the college will not be compromised by pressure from any external organizations, institutions or individuals.

Sallee affirmed the college's autonomous system of governance following a meeting of the board of trustees' executive committee and in response to public pronouncements by leaders of the MBC that were critical of the school's administration. Since its founding in 1849, William Jewell has been governed by an independent, self-perpetuating board of trustees.

"We have always had a strong covenant relationship with Baptists and I feel certain that that will continue; however, we will not cede control of William Jewell to the Executive Board of the Missouri Baptist Convention," Sallee said.

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12/20/2002 12:00:00 AM by Bob Baysinger , Baptist Press | with 0 comments
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