“A college is no more about the building than a church, a business, or a home. It is always, always about the people.”
Recently there has been considerable turmoil at my alma mater, Bryan College. Without going into too many details (especially since I am not privy to many), the gist of it is that current faculty are now required to sign a “clarification” in the statement of belief with regard to their adherence to a literal, six day creation. Some professors who have been tenured are now either being asked to step down, or they are deciding to leave because of all the upheaval. No matter your stance on the first few chapters of Genesis, the hurt and frustration with most involved is, seemingly, due to the way in which the matter was handled. This tiny university is engulfed in a civil war, and the casualties are many.
As some of you know, I live on the island of Guam, far away from the hills of southeastern Tennessee. But Bryan College is not only in the sleepy town of Dayton, Tennessee. It is in my heart and the hearts of many who scurried around its campus.
People are saying lots of things, even things about Bryan not being able to survive this current problem. As I read the various comments and statistics, I was surprised by how I mourned. After all, it is just a school…right? But no amount of attempts to rationalize have stopped this grief.
It saddens me to think that some may not have the chance to get a quality education with a Biblical worldview. It saddens me that I may not be able to finagle my own (Lord-willing) future children to go there. But mostly, it saddens me because no matter what happens, the Bryan College I knew has, in many respects, died. Due to recent “developments,” the school is marred and much different from the campus I knew and loved just a few years ago.
One of my closest friends from Bryan said that although she is sad for the school, she does not like to think of her college days as her “golden days.” She wants to believe that her best days are ahead of her. And she is right! Marrying my love and one day holding my babies was and will be the most glorious moment(s) of my life.
However, there will never be anything like the college days. From late-night shenanigans to camping out in the library, from loud soccer games to meeting with professors, and from the adventure that is MLK Day to outlandish banquet invites (once there was a sign held up by balloons that ascended to my third floor window, people!), there will never be another time like it. It was, truly, wonderful.
I hoped that I could one day take my husband and visit Bryan, again…take a peek in Mercer, smile as familiar professors bustle past me, smell books, sneak a kiss in the Grassy Bowl. The recent happenings tell me that I may not get to do that, at least not in the same way. Many of the defining professors and faculty are gone. I certainly hope to visit again, no matter what! But it will be different.
There are many aspects about the current state of Bryan College of which I am unaware. I am not seeking to add another log to the blistering fire of emotions, but merely to note that my time at Bryan College was beautiful and empowering, both spiritually and academically. And I hope it will always be that way for others.
Things change. We mourn. We move. This is life. And a piece of us dies inside. But what will continue to live on are the lessons I learned and the memories I made while being a Bryan Lion. I was given the hope that I could love Jesus and be a life-long learner, that the very essence of loving Jesus means using my mind for Him, that all truth is from God, that there is no secular and sacred divide, and that my mind and spirit do not have to be in conflict. These are nuggets that my fellow classmates and I took but also laughed off as campus clichés. How blessed we were. And beyond that, I was given the highest of caliber friends with whom to share life, both during college and after it, and professors who spoke into my life with their words and examples.
Like any other institution, Bryan College is only as good as the people running it. A college is no more about the building than a church, a business, or a home. It is always, always about the people. And for the people of Bryan College, I am (and always will be) thankful. If given the chance, I would never choose to attend a different school, and I will continue to pray for this very special place whose motto continues to be “Christ Above All.”
Keep the Faith,