Dear Biola Community,
Summer is in full swing at Biola University, with summer school sessions and conferences keeping the campus lively even in the absence of most of our students. Though it feels like summer just started, the arrival of new students for orientation week will be here before we know it!
In preparation for the arrival of the new class of incoming students, I recently called our community together for a time of prayer to bathe our incoming students in prayer in five areas: their finances, minds, hearts, relationships and calling. This was a catalytic moment for our staff and one we hope to repeat each summer to intercede for our new students.
One of the things we’ve been praying for is the fate of the Cal Grant, an essential scholarship program that provides more than $7 million each year to nearly 800 Biola students. In January the Governor proposed to cut the program by 44 percent, and as recently as May 15, additional cuts were being considered. In recent months, Biola students and staff have lobbied heavily in support of the Cal Grant, knowing that a significant reduction would be catastrophic for our students and have a major impact on the university’s enrollment.
Thankfully, there is good news to report. Governor Jerry Brown and Sacramento lawmakers recently approved much smaller cuts to the Cal Grant, reducing it by 5% for the 2012-13 school year, with slightly larger cuts projected for subsequent years. We will continue our lobbying efforts to eliminate or minimize those future cuts, and we ask that you’d keep the future of the Cal Grant program in your prayers as well.
Please join me in continuing to pray for our students and the ability of their families to have the financial resources to attend Biola, which for many is the university of their choice. Pray also that the Lord would do great things in our midst this summer as we prepare for our new undergraduate and graduate students, beyond our own comprehension or planning, for his glory and not our own.
During the 2012-13 year I am hopeful we can continue to model what it means to be a praying community, especially as we focus on the theme of proclaiming the gospel: “From this Place: Proclaiming Good News in a Changing World.”
One of the ways we can proclaim the Good News in a changing world is through new technologies, an area that was explored this month at the Biola Digital Ministry Conference. Formerly known as the Christian Web Conference and GodBlogCon, this event was designed to give ministry professionals the tools and strategies they need to impact the world using digital technologies. I am happy to see this become an annual tradition for Biola as it clearly aligns with our aspiration to extend our educational reach throughout the world through innovative leveraging of technology.
Another conference highlight from this month occurred on June 7-8 when Biola hosted a Genesis Colloquium for university presidents, provosts, deans and trustees representing 32 institutions within the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU). This important gathering addressed the question, "How do our institutions teach Genesis and the origins of life from a Christ-centered, biblically integrative perspective?" Four teams of faculty in the sciences, philosophy and theology gave presentations on how they answer that question from their own university's tradition and convictions. The result was an honest dialogue on areas of common ground as well as potentially sharp differences, bathed in a setting of grace, prayer and worship. Additionally, a productive framework was established for future such meetings over vital issues facing leaders in Christian higher education. At the conclusion of the Genesis Colloquium, I hosted a luncheon to debrief the meetings and present Biola University's Phillip E. Johnson Award for Liberty and Truth to Dr. John Lennox of Oxford University.
One of my personal highlights from June was the opportunity to meet with recent Biola graduate Daniel Cedeno while I was in Rome. Daniel has been admitted into a very competitive international relations program at the American University in Washington, D.C., where he will begin in August. Before that he is spending his summer working a paid internship at the U.S. Mission to the U.N. in Rome, one of 12 candidates selected by the State Department for paid internships at American embassies around the world. Daniel attributes this honor to his Biola education, including opportunities for cross-cultural experiences in Honduras and Egypt. It’s encouraging to see Biola alumni like Daniel living out our mission to impact the world for Christ all across the globe.
I returned home to the sad news of the sudden, unexpected loss of Ken Bascom, a beloved Biola administrator who played a crucial role in planning and developing the university’s building projects over the past four decades. One cannot walk these beautiful campus grounds without seeing the physical marks of Ken's giftedness everywhere. But far more profound is the godly and gracious influence he has had on countless people over many decades.
Biola University has lost more than a treasured colleague and friend. Ken Bascom was like an honored family member for so many in this community. Biola will long remember and continue to benefit from Ken’s deep wisdom, Christian character, keen knowledge, and passion for our God-given mission. A memorial service in his honor was held on July 1 in Sutherland Auditorium. It reflected a glorious story of a man who loved his Lord, and that love flowed through to his family, his work and his friends.
The loss of Ken reminds us that nothing should be taken for granted. At Biola, we must never take for granted our beloved students, staff, faculty, and friends who invest so much in the mission of this place. May we honor Ken’s memory—and that of so many others who have come before him—by continuing in a spirit of service and prayer as we wisely steward what God has given us and press on in the mission to which we are called.
Thank you for your continued prayers and support. I reflect upon the academic year of 2011-2012 with cherished memories and deep thanksgiving for all the blessings we’ve enjoyed.
Barry H. Corey
June 2, 2012