January 6, 2005


Their Idea of a University: America's religious colleges are growing in popularity and quality. (CHARLOTTE ALLEN, January 6, 2005, Wall Street Journal)

It's not news in academia, although it may come as a surprise to the rest of us: America's 700-plus religiously affiliated colleges and universities are enjoying an unprecedented surge of growth and a revival of interest.

New institutions have opened their doors in recent years, including the evangelical Patrick Henry College in Virginia; Ave Maria, a conservative Catholic law school in Michigan; and the Buddhist-run Soka University in California. Long-established schools such as the Mormon flagship, Brigham Young University, have launched satellite campuses.

And enrollments are soaring. As Naomi Schaefer Riley reports in "God on the Quad" (St. Martin's, 274 pages, $24.95), the number of students attending the 100 schools of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities--an organization of four-year liberal-arts schools dedicated to promoting the Christian faith--rose 60% between 1990 and 2002. In those same years the attendance at nonreligious public and private schools stayed essentially flat. The number of applications to the University of Notre Dame, the nation's premier Catholic college, has risen steadily over the past decade, with a 23% jump last year alone.

But numbers don't tell the whole story. Many religious schools, traditionally regarded as second-tier or worse, have improved the quality of their students and of their academic offerings, sometimes dramatically.

Maybe the biggest problem with that Stuntz piece is the assumption that the Religious Right will let the Academic Left maintain its hold on the faculty club?

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 6, 2005 6:40 PM

The parallel expansion of both Yeshiva and Touro which both have business schools, law schools, and will soon both have medical schools is certainly both noteworthy and emblematic of this phenomenon.

Posted by: Bart at January 6, 2005 9:59 PM