My first daughter started kindergarten this fall — a milestone that made both of us feel a whole lot older. Like many parents sending their kids into the public school system for the first time, I wasn’t sure what to expect: Would she fit in? What kind of values would she encounter? Would she have a good teacher?
Thankfully, my concerns turned to relief during the very first week when her teacher came up to me and said, “You’re the Biola dad!” As it turned out, she was a fellow Biola graduate. Having earned her credential and master’s degree from Biola several years ago, she’d been excited to see my university email address on an emergency contact form.
I immediately felt reassured that my little girl was in good hands — that she would be shaped by someone who had not only gone through Biola’s reputable education programs, but who also had the character and commitment that tends to come with Biola alumni. (That assumption has since proven to be completely accurate. She’s an amazing teacher!) When I bumped into June Hetzel, the dean of Biola’s School of Education, in the university’s parking lot a couple of days later, I gushed to her about my renewed sense of gratitude for the many hundreds of Biola alumni who are serving as teachers.
And it’s not just teachers, of course. Collectively, Biola graduates are doing an incredible amount of good for society. I continually meet and hear about alumni who are making a profound impact at hospitals, businesses, counseling practices, tech firms, media outlets, film studios, churches and nonprofit organizations all around the world. Among employers, Biolans are known for their skill and integrity — as the kind of people who make organizations better.
That’s partly because, as a university and as an alumni family, Biola is not driven primarily by accomplishment or prestige or a desire for money. Rather, as our vision statement puts it, we’re a community compelled by Christ’s love. We want the world around us to flourish the way God intends. And we want to be known for the sort of diligence and excellence that you’d expect from people who actually believe we’re doing our work directly for God and not just for people.
Unfortunately, not everyone recognizes the value of faith-based education. In fact, a growing number of legislators seem to perceive Christian universities as a threat to the good of society, rather than one of its greatest contributors. It appears we’ve allowed ourselves to be defined by stereotypes and half-truths, rather than by the love and excellence that drives us.
And so with this issue’s cover story, we’re seeking to make the case for why Christian universities are so important to preserve and to protect. As you’ll read, schools like Biola serve a unique and important role in our pluralistic society. Drawing upon stories, statistics and even secular thinkers, we seek to demonstrate the real value that Christian schools provide.
Universities like Biola have something special to offer, and I hope you’ll join me in praying that we’ll be able to continue offering it for many years to come, for the sake of people everywhere — kindergartners and their dads included.