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Ashland University Takes a Conservative Turn

Nov 13, 2004

Ashland University (formerly Ashland College) played a key role in the history of Grace College and Seminary and of the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches. It was a group of Ashland faculty members–including Drs. Herman Hoyt and Alva J. McClain–who parted company with the Ohio school in the late 1930s and founded what is now Grace Seminary and Grace College. Current values and practices between the two school are quite different, but this release signals a more conservative shift in the Ohio school’s hiring practices.

Church-Founded School’s Hiring Policy Raises Concerns

by Mary Rettig November 12, 2004

(AgapePress) – Ashland University in North Central Ohio is returning to its religious roots by changing its hiring policies.

Founded by members of the Brethren Church in 1878, Ashland University has since maintained a tradition strongly influenced by its religious origins. That tradition has to a degree been reflected even in the university’s administrative government, and its constitution has always contained references to Judeo-Christian values.

Last month, the Ohio school’s Board of Trustees decided to only hire Christians or Jews as full-time faculty members. The policy also specifically mandates that the president of the university and his cabinet must be Christians. Ashland University’s Steven Hannan says some current faculty members have some concerns about the new hiring policy.

“There’s just been a lot of discussion,” Hannan notes, adding that a number of issues have been raised about the new policy’s impact on the school. “There have been concerns about academic freedom and impact on diversity,” he says.

But although Ashland’s decision to spell out and enforce a policy of only hiring people who profess Judaism or Christianity has generated controversy, the university spokesman contends that it is really just a reemphasis — a return to the school’s roots. “I think the Board of Trustees wanted to reinforce the university’s historical ties to the church,” he says.

Hannan points out that Ashland’s administrative guidelines have “always spelled out the references to the Judeo-Christian values,” and in this recent move, he says, the school’s officials simply “decided to enforce that through the hiring policy.”

Many faculty feel Ashland University’s new hiring policy and its implementation warrant more thought, Hannan says. He believes the Board of Trustees will most likely revisit the issue in January for further discussion.