Dr. Ronald Mahurin of CCCU Speaks on New Partnership with InterVarsity

With a vision to advance Christian higher education, Council for Christian Colleges & Universities and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship announced its new partnership last week. Dr. Ronald P. Mahurin, Vice President of Professional Development & Research at CCCU, provided The Christian Post with the details on the new joint collaboration of the long established organizations.

How did CCCU and Intervarsity come to the decision to form this new partnership?

The conversations began several years ago when Alec Hill – who is now the president of InterVarsity and who came from a position on a CCCU campus – and the [CCCU president] talked of closer collaborations. It really took on more energy in the last several months at a staff and vice presidential level. We signed the memorandum two weeks ago – Oct. 23.

There is an InterVarsity Christian Fellowship staff member, Nancy Thomas, who works on the campus of Union University (CCCU member campus) but also serves as an InterVarsity staff person. Nancy and I started [talking] about the need to develop more resources for Christian colleges and universities and faculty in the area of professional development and spiritual formation.

Is this something that the CCCU has ever done in terms of partnering with another group?

We have a business partnership with Sallie Mae to help students secure student loans, but this kind of formal association/partnership – if not the first – is among the first. It's certainly the first formal partnership with a like-minded association since I've been here – 1999. We've had informal things done but nothing that has been formalized like this where there are expectations where we will serve on one another's advisory committees ... where we help to build out the base resources for faculty.

The partnership was just recently established, but what kind of immediate impact are you expecting from this?

Among the things we hope to accomplish short term will be a collaborative venture between the two groups for a grant proposal ... to build out this relationship between spiritual formation and intellectual formation/development. We have not yet devised this. This is to identify some resources that will allow us to effectively reach more faculty – both on CCCU campuses as well as InterVarsity faculty who serve on state, public universities and other private universities across the country.

What we hope to accomplish over the next number of years is to reach more faculty, Christian faculty, in helping them to be effective in their teachings, their scholarship and their public witness in the academy.

It seems the new partnership targets the faculty more so than the students, although in turn, the students will benefit.

By targeting faculty, we will ultimately be helping to transform the lives of the students. But my office and responsibility is first and foremost to work with Christian faculty ... to serve students through the faculty chapters on campuses across the United States.

We're hoping to train the trainers so that they can be mentors and examples to students regarding faithful Christian living in the marketplace of ideas, in businesses, in the government, wherever our students are called to serve.

With both organizations well established and widely spread across the nation and even the world, does this partnership have a larger historical implication to Christian higher education in general?

I think among other things for many years, CCCU and InterVarsity have had very similar passions and visions for advancing the Kingdom of God and we've worked to help support one another. For example, CCCU sends students to the Urbana Conference and our faculty has published books through InterVarsity Press. But I think the broader implications, now that ... we live in joining forces, [are that] we will collectively be able to impact a greater number of students and faculty as they pursue callings in their lives. Without making a too bold a promise here, I think it is a new day. It signals that both organizations want to be more intentional about our work together and be strategic in our thinking and our actions as to how we advance Christian higher education both in this country and around the world.

Would you like to add any further comments?

I just want to express the real excitement that CCCU has for this new partnership and how we are looking forward to ways that will advance the cause of Christian higher education through our collaborative work. And we're glad to be a part of it.

Dr. Ronald P. Mahurin is the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities Vice President for Professional Development & Research. He has co-authored "Saints as Citizens: A Guide to Public Responsibilities for Christians," has made numerous workshop presentations on faculty development and leadership development, and has served as Collaborator for "Civil Society" curriculum.