Last week, Peter Conn a Professor of English and Education at the University of Pennsylvania, wrote a piece condemning the accreditation of Christian colleges.
Professor Conn is no stranger to the accreditation process- he led the self study at the University of Pennsylvania in 2003, and he was a member of the team that visited John Hopkins in 2004. Which means he understands the importance the process- “Aside from the traditional goal of conferring legitimacy on colleges and their programs, accreditation has taken on a far more consequential role: Students attending institutions that are not accredited are ineligible for federal financial aid, money that is indispensable to the budgets of most American colleges.”
But he has an objection to this process. According to Conn, Christian Universities are not worth accrediting. Why are Christian universities not worth accreditation in his opinion? “By awarding accreditation to religious colleges, the process confers legitimacy on institutions that systematically undermine the most fundamental purposes of higher education.”
The Higher Learning Commission of North Central Association of Colleges and Schools told him that “Federal regulations and commission policies require that the commission respect a wide range of institutional missions and belief systems in its accrediting processes,” which he found scandalous. He wrote that it “…makes a mockery of whatever academic and intellectual standards the process of accreditation is supposed to uphold.”
In his mind, Christian colleges should be nothing more than “like-minded adherents of one or another religion banding together, calling their association a college, and charging students for the privilege of having their religious beliefs affirmed.”
Obviously, Conn does not share the respect that the Higher Learning Commission of North Central Association of Colleges and Schools extends to “a wide range of institutional missions and beliefs systems.”
In fact, in his view, Christianity and science are at odds with each other. He wrote– “The retrograde battle that religious fundamentalists are waging against science has become a melancholy fact of our contemporary cultural life.”
Thankfully, our founding fathers did not agree with his view of Christianity, and neither do many prominent universities and colleges all across the country.