Ask investment analysts about the state of small Christian colleges and universities and you likely get a bleak outlook. Just consider the spate of small Christian college closures over the past year. Though the number of college closures was unsurprising for higher education insiders, it was nonetheless a traumatic life changing experience for those directly impacted.
In sharp contrast to these jolting closures, comes the strategic partnership success story of one small Christian University in the context of a reflective atmosphere in an interdenominational setting. Founded in 1997, The King’s University grew out of a vision to see students gain a solid foundation of both theological education and ministerial training.
Early on in the partnership process, TKU founder, Pastor Jack Hayford noted, “As we move into this next season and our vision expands, I believe TKU’s influence will increase globally as more students gain access to a wider variety of degrees.”
After fifteen years in California, TKU seized on the propitious opportunity to relocate its Southern California campus to the welcoming home of the Gateway Church located in Southlake, Texas. The synergistic relationship between the City and TKU is reflected in Southlake Mayor John Terrell’s enthusiastic message: “The King’s University coming to town is great for our city and I really like the faith-based aspect of it.”
At its center, TKU is dedicated to the intellectual and spiritual enrichment of its students from a Christian perspective in a contemporary global context. In their studies, TKU students learn the kind of accountability, character building, teamwork and ethical frame of reference that shapes early professional career development.
TKU is known for the special way it combines higher education with practical experience.
Former President John Spurling notes, “This partnership allows us to integrate a classroom experience with hands-on training. For example, a significant component of the undergraduate degree program includes participation in a ministry training program that includes pastoral leadership, kids ministry, counseling and small groups.”
Distinctively, TKU inspires the next generation of cross-cultural humanitarians and social entrepreneurs.
The cross-cultural experience confronts students’ presuppositions and helps broaden their awareness and appreciation of diverse cultures. It seeks to prepare them to operate more thoughtfully in a world that is increasingly interconnected. As students encounter other cultures, they may realize ways to interact creatively to meet needs they see and will also realize ways to work together creatively to transform their life circumstances.
“We believe the next generation of influential leaders will be those who can speak, communicate, and perceive the multitudinous cultures around them.
—TKU President President Jon Chasteen
TKU’s Cross Cultural Experience requirements range from community service at local agencies, going on a mission trip planned by the Chaplain’s Office; or ministering to children through sports on an international visit planned by coaches.
TKU can take considerable pride in its students and faculty – working side by side on medical expeditions to deliver healthcare to underserved populations in remote locations in Africa, Asia, and around the world. Beyond these missions, TKU students have a long tradition of participating in study abroad programs in Africa, the Pacific and United Kingdom. From a pragmatic viewpoint, the cross-cultural program creates for its students cultural connections in an increasingly Global Higher Education Ecosystem.
TKU celebrates its cross-cultural focus through its special affection for Israel and the Jewish people. With a strong emphasis on Judaic history and traditions, TKU connects the Old Testament and New Testament from an interdenominational perspective, as distinguished from a non-denominational designation.
“At TKU, we believe cross-cultural studies will be a key component to the next generation of leaders,” says President Jon Chasteen. “In his book, The World is Flat, Thomas Friedman reminds us of the impact of the Internet and technology in recent decades, taking a once global and delayed business and ministry world and making the world both local and instant. As a result, this phenomenon has created a melting pot of culture among organizations globally. We believe the next generation of influential leaders will be those who can speak, communicate, and perceive the multitudinous cultures around them.
At its crux, TKU’s cross-cultural program confronts presuppositions and broadens awareness of diverse cultures and nationalities. In this way, TKU students who come through its doors will be well prepared for leadership roles in fostering world peace at a time of religious division and tumultuous global conflict.
James E. Samels is President and CEO of The Education Alliance and Senior Partner in the law firm of Samels Associates, Attorneys at Law