Many colleges with historical church ties experience significant tension between the desire to compete in the secularized world of higher education and the desire to remain connected to their religious commitments and communities. In this history of one such school, Roanoke College, Robert Benne not only explores the school's 175-year tradition of educational excellence but also lays bare its complicated and ongoing relationship with its religious heritage.
Benne examines the vision of ten of Roanoke's presidents and how those visions played out in college life. As he tells the college's story, Benne points to specific strengths and weaknesses of Roanoke's strategies for keeping the soul in higher education and elaborates what other Christian colleges can learn from Roanoke's long quest.
Robert Benne is Jordan Trexler Professor Emeritus at Roanoke College and founder of the Benne Center for Religion and Society. His other books include Good and Bad Ways to Think about Religion and Politics and Quality with Soul: How Six Premier Colleges and Universities Keep Faith with Their Religious Traditions.
William C. Ringenberg — author of The Christian College: A History of Protestant Higher Education in America “This intellectual history of Roanoke College is a model case study of how one institution, born in the wake and spirit of the Second Great Awakening, moved from orthodoxy toward secularism and now finds itself in a conflict between these two impulses. Robert Benne, who possesses a masterful understanding of typology in church-related higher education, argues compellingly that Roanoke—and by inference all church-related colleges—should provide an assured ‘place at the table’ for the Christian worldview.”
Gilbert Meilaender — Valparaiso University “Using both the 175-year history of Roanoke College and his own experience as a member of its faculty as a case study, Robert Benne examines the current state of Christian higher education in this country. The story he tells is one of constant struggle to discern the place of faith in academic life. Whether readers are drawn to his ‘glass half full’ or his ‘glass half empty’ assessment, they will be in Benne’s debt for drawing them into reflection on this important subject.”
Gerald McDermott — Beeson Divinity School “In many ways, the Roanoke story is the story of church-related colleges writ large. All who want to strengthen Christian colleges, and who wonder about their fates, will learn much from this engaging history.”
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