Faith-Based Higher Education News Headlines in September 2015

By October 5, 2015 July 19th, 2018 News, Academic Articles

Facing Supreme Court Decision, Thomas Aquinas College Refuses to Compromise Catholic Beliefs

A two-year battle is slated to come to a head Sept. 28, when a petition filed by Thomas Aquinas College (TAC) explaining why it should be exempt from the HHS mandate expected to be considered by the Supreme Court. The HHS mandate requires the Catholic institution to provide contraceptive, abortifacient and sterilization coverage for its employees as part of its health care plan, which violates Catholic doctrine. The petition, was filed Aug. 25 as part of a battle that began in September 2013, when TAC filed a lawsuit with the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. If the Supreme Court rules against the college or decides not to take up the case, TAC’s president Dr. Michael F. McLean says they will hold to their stance and have to either stop providing health insurance to employees, or find an alternative Christian or Catholic health care arrangement. Either option will result in paying fines to the government, McLean tells the Cardinal Newman Society.

Olivet Nazarene University Reports Record Enrollment

Olivet Nazarene University, based in Bourbonnais, Ill., announced its highest enrollment in its 108-year history with a total of 4,916 students. Nearly 2900 of those are undergraduate students, and 2358 live on campus. It also boasts its largest senior class ever with 756 students. Bolstered by its expansion with regional centers in Indianapolis as well as Grand Rapids and Grand Ledge, Mich., the school’s graduate program enrollment included more than 2000 students this year, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Augustana College Officially Changes Name to Augustana University

Augustana College, located in Sioux Falls, S.D., has officially changed its name to Augustana University as of Sept. 1, 2015. The school has been awarding master’s degrees since the 1960s, and after years of planning and analysis, officials say this change in name will reflect all the school offers, according to KSFY. Augustana is in the midst of building a new 25,000 square foot activities center, which president Rob Oliver says will house the city’s only eight-lane 200 meter indoor competition track. Students will also benefit from a new student access center, designed to help students succeed on campus after graduation, as well as a new student apartment complex and a new state-of-the-art science complex.

Rethinking Religion: Wheaton College Terminates Student Healthcare Coverage in Response to Obamacare Exemption Form

Wheaton College, a Christian liberal-arts college in the Chicago area, has officially terminated its student health care coverage in response to the Affordable Care Act’s requirement to fill out an exemption form regarding the requirement of providing certain types of contraceptives. The form would allow the contraceptives to be provided to patients directly from the third-party insurer. Wheaton argues that even the exemption form constitutes a compromise of religious integrity, and therefore has shut down the student health care program. It has posted resources online to assist students in finding alternative health care and will continue to provide health care coverage for its faculty and staff, the Post Athens reports.

Learning About Others’ Political Views: The Case of Liberty University

In a showing of great respect and maturity, Liberty University, a predominantly Republican Christian university, welcomed Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Jewish socialist and Democratic presidential candidate, to speak at the institution Sept. 14. The act was a testament to the open-mindedness and respectfulness of not only the student body but also the university administration, who has extended invitations to all major party presidential candidates to address the students, not just the Republican conservatives. The school, Deseret News reports, is admirably committed to providing their students with differing perspectives, allowing them to be educated and fully informed.

Long-time President of Albertus Magnus College Retiring

Albertus Magnus College, located in New Haven, Conn., has announced its president of 34 years is retiring June 20, 2016. WTNH reports Dr. Julia McNamera joined Albertus while earning her doctorate in French literature from Yale and later became the Dean of Students. She will be available to the campus and provide assistance in the transition for a year following her retirement. Under McNamera’s leadership, the school achieved several accomplishments, including the transition to coeducation, expansion of accelerated programs for working adults, the establishment of 10 master’s programs, and the addition of online and blended classroom experiences. Jeanne M. Dennison, chair of the Board of Trustees, will lead the search committee for McNamera’s successor.

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Courtney Fry

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