Magazine article Academe

Professors Resign from Fundamentalist College

Magazine article Academe

Professors Resign from Fundamentalist College

Article excerpt

Almost a third of the fulltime faculty at Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia, resigned in May after a dispute over academic freedom. The small, fundamentalist college opened in 2000 with a mission to educate "Christian men and women who will lead our nation and shape our culture with timeless biblical values." By 2006, it had sixteen full-time faculty members and about three hundred students. Thus far, Patrick Henry has been unsuccessful in securing accreditation.

The college, which focuses on preparing graduates for political careers, had prided itself on combining Christian education with a classic liberal arts curriculum that it says is designed to "provide students with a broad background in classical languages, logic, rhetoric, biblical studies, history, English composition and literature, philosophy, science, and mathematics [and allow students to] encounter a multiplicity of ideas animating the world's great leaders and thinkers of the past."

But the departing faculty members questioned Patrick Henry's commitment to liberal education, citing several incidents. Last fall, charged professor M. Todd Bates, the college's president and founder Michael Karris threatened to cancel a public lecture on St. Augustine unless Bates revised it to incorporate more references to the Bible. Bates and another faculty member also assert that Farris told them he believed Augustine was in hell (Farris denies bavins; said this). Many faculty were disturbed by this incident, and, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education and other newspapers, a group made an agreement to stick together if any were unfairly reprimanded or dismissed. …

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