Monday, 03 March 2014 14:22

Huntingdon College & Faulkner University Considering Christian Higher Education in the River Region

Written by  Rachel Fisher l
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Choosing a college is one of the most important decisions young people face. Over 4,000 universities are scattered around the United States and the decision can be daunting, to say the least. This decision is not one to be taken lightly either. Choosing a college has lasting significance on the trajectory of the lives of the kids we love in more ways than one. College presents young people with new ideas and experiences that will shape them, mold them and, if they choose, allow them to be the best they can be for a waiting world.

For many families and their children, choosing a college calls more into play than a family member’s alma mater or scholarships. Many parents and kids desire to integrate their faith and college education in a more tangible way. According to Christianity Today, “Enrollment in faith-based colleges has soared over the last several years due largely to Christian schools offering a unique educational experience, preparing students for positive and productive lives beyond college. Enrollment statistics from the U.S. Department of Education indicate that the benefits of a Christian college education are drawing more and more students. Schools that belong to the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) increased their fall enrollments by 70 percent between 1990 and 2004. Other private schools had 28 percent growth in their fall enrollments, and state institutions saw only a 13 percent rise during that period.”


The decision to stay close to home and attend a faith-based college can be a great one for many families. The River Region is home to two outstanding universities where faith, life and academics are combined in a way that causes students from all over the nation, namely the Southeast and the River Region, to enroll each year. Huntingdon College and Faulkner University are home to nearly 4,000 college students in Montgomery and provide a college experience many are looking for, but didn’t know existed right here.



Huntingdon College – Grow and Go in Wisdom and Service

In the beginning, Shirn Torabinejad’s college search was based on one simple question: Who would give her the most in scholarships? It didn’t take long for Shirin to discover the decision she was making was about much more than money. “Deciding where to attend college is a leap of faith,” she says. “It’s one of the first “big kid” decisions you make. You are deciding for yourself where you will call home for four years.” When Shirin visited Huntingdon, she immediately fell in love. “I loved the beautiful campus, the family atmosphere and the morals and values of Huntingdon. I decided that day that money mattered, but how I felt about where I was going meant more.”


Students who choose Huntingdon can expect a well-rounded education. Not only do students take core classes on faith like Comparative Religions, Interpreting the Bible and Church History, but they discover how to integrate their learning through service.


“We believe strongly that information about those matters is insufficient if students do not learn to serve Montgomery and the world with the things they are learning,” says Chad Eggleston, Religion professor and Assistant Provost for Learning Enrichment.  “We want our students to be genuinely wise in the sense that they not only know the content of our classes, but they also know how to put that knowledge to use for others.”


Shirin says one of the best parts of her Huntingdon experience has been being at a college where faith is encouraged, rather than discouraged. “I enjoy that my professors can talk openly about God and that I attend church with some of them.”


And it’s not just faith and learning that makes Huntingdon special. Shirin and Chad both agree that the community of people they call “family” is what makes Huntingdon a great place to learn, grow and serve.


As you wander the campus, it doesn’t take long to see a sign that says, “We are Huntingdon. We are family.” Chad believes this captures the spirit of the school well and notes this is not a place where students sink and swim on their own. “We are a strong academic institution that holds its students to a high standard of achievement both inside and outside of the classroom, but we are working together to reach our goals, so that no one is alone as they work on a paper, struggle with a difficult idea, or grow in their spiritual lives.”  With a small student ratio (15:1) and commitment to the Church, Huntingdon proves to be a special family.


“This family atmosphere challenges us as students to grow and we are constantly cared for by the personal touch of a small institution where the President knows your name, you can text your professors and where you meet your lifelong friends,” says Shirin.





Faulkner University – Glorifying God Through Education of the Whole Person

For undergraduate students who have a desire to live and study in a caring Christian academic environment, but are also attracted to the flexibility of offerings both on campus and online, and in three major cities in Alabama, Faulkner University might be for them. With their main campus on Atlanta Highway in Montgomery and extension campuses in Birmingham, Huntsville and Mobile, Faulkner’s mission is “to glorify God through education of the whole person, emphasizing integrity of character in a caring Christian environment.”


Laine Kelly, a senior at Faulkner, spent her first two years in college at a state school before transferring to Faulkner. “I chose Faulkner because I saw a university whose purpose was to enrich the lives of their students and give them the tools to grow intellectually and spiritually.” Laine has found her faith amplified through studying abroad in Greece, Turkey and Israel and an atmosphere where professors give personal attention and support students in their spiritual growth.


According to Marci Johns, the Interim VP of Academic Affairs, “Faulkner provides a Christ-centered higher education for students of all ages. Students are challenged to grow spiritually through daily chapel, Bible classes and a rich academic program that includes a Western Cultural Heritage series where faith is infused throughout.” The school is also a Champions of Character campus where mission, ministry and community service are emphasized. “We believe in not only shaping intellect, but character,” Marci says. “It’s a journey that begins at freshman orientation and continues over the course of a lifetime.”


Students at Faulkner can be found serving in various capacities all over the community and averaging 23,000 hours of service a year. Cindy Walker, the Director of Faulkner’s Quality Enhancement Plan, says they require service hours for all students each year. “Part of faith is knowledge that service is an integral part of our life,” she says. “Through these service efforts students grow in their faith through learning they are truly serving God as they serve others.”


 For Katherine Harris, who graduated in 2013, the most memorable part of her time at Faulkner was spent in service to others. “Serving other people touches them in a way no sermon can,” says Katherine. “While serving during my time at Faulkner, I hope I have been a beacon of love to those who may not otherwise see such love in their lives.”


Behind their heart for service, Faulkner works to express faith in all academic disciplines making it a priority for all faculty and staff to consider how to teach their class through the lens of faith in Christ. It is quite possibly this heart that made student Maurice Whitley say, “Faulkner does everything in their power to keep you satisfied yet hungry to know more about the Lord, while providing you with ways to find yourself.”



Rachel Fisher loves learning what God is doing in the world and writing about it. She and her husband Chase live in Montgomery.





Last modified on Wednesday, 05 March 2014 14:25

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