Faculty Meeting Roundup: 2 BJU Dorms to be Demolished, China, SACS, Collegian

BJU held a faculty/staff meeting yesterday, and an attendee emailed us notifying of a few pertinent details.

-BJU will close and demolish two of its residence halls this summer, Siddons (Women’s) and Reveal (Men’s). These residence halls currently house graduate students and assistants, but the school’s steadily dropping enrollment has made these older buildings obsolete. Here’s an image showing a revised campus map:

-A major emphasis of the meeting was the administration’s continued interest in building a presence for the school in China. Recruitment is seen as a major concern for BJU, and the school’s leaders clearly see an opportunity for growth and fundraising in Asia.

Update, 4:00PM 2/21/14: We have received information from another source that conflicts with some of the details we published below. At this time, all we know for sure about GRACE’s meeting with BJU this week is that that two parties met, but no conclusion was reached. Neither Stephen Jones nor Gary Weier were present at this week’s meeting, just as was originally reported. GRACE and BJU plan to continue meeting next week.

-In fact, we were told by the meeting’s attendee that Stephen Jones and Gary Weier departed for China yesterday, despite the fact that GRACE and BJU were scheduled to meet at that time. We also learned that although BJU representatives did travel to Lynchburg, VA yesterday to meet with GRACE leaders, the talks broke down after GRACE learned that no top-ranking BJU official was present.

-SACS was also discussed, although there was little good news in the University’s pursuit of regional accreditation. Our informant said that finances was presented as the main obstacle to BJU’s plans in this area, with a SACS requirement that any applicant show $1 million in savings as the administration’s biggest concern. (Also: check out this image we created in 2013 showing key events in BJU’s history of misinforming the public about SACS.)

In other news, BJU’s student newspaper, The Collegian, published an article today pushing back against critics of the school’s handling of the GRACE investigation. The lengthy article frames the GRACE firing as “an issue of prayer” rather than one to discuss or debate publicly, and describes disagreement with BJU as “bitterness.” You can read that article here.

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18 thoughts on “Faculty Meeting Roundup: 2 BJU Dorms to be Demolished, China, SACS, Collegian

  1. A James

    More grapevine:
    And someone said there was mention of so many “trials” these last few weeks.
    Also something about an SACS applicant needing to have been “in the black” for three consecutive years–that BJU might not be in the black this year. Why isn’t the Bible Conference money going to something more important like this?
    Apparently issues like the presidential process (where is the online application that was estimated to be out by mid-February) and GRACE details weren’t important enough to provide an update.

    [A James, I moved your comment to this thread since you mentioned that’s where you meant it to be. –BJUNews]

    1. A James

      Will their lack of good judgment during such a time as this ever end? They seem to be begging for enemies. Here are students with little experience and incomplete knowledge judging others with more experience and at least as much knowledge as they have.

      Collegian: Despite opinions, feelings about BJU, GRACE investigation, Christians urged to pray in faith
      http://www.collegianonline.com/2014/02/21/despite-opinions-feelings-about-bju-grace-investigation-christians-urged-to-pray-in-faith/

      Here is a sampling of their fair and objective reporting condemning unfair and unobjective internet dialogue.

      “floodgates of criticism and anger burst and hurled a rush of accusations toward the University” (what about the floodgates of defense and anger bursting forth hurling a rush of accusations against those who dared to question–how will we ever forget Judith Garcia Patton on BJU Facebook).

      “mix of bitter remarks, accusations of a cover up, and comments defending the University that were met with intense rebuttals.”
      (such mild language for many of those bitter comments defending the University)

      “Commenters said they were ashamed of their alma mater, they’d never send their kids here, and they were disappointed the University would take this course of action”
      (and yet there was no effort of a summary as to why they were ashamed) (by the way, kids, it wasn’t primarily that BJU didn’t announce future plans it was that they terminated in the first place, terminated in the first place, terminated in the first place, and we had to find out from GRACE, and we had to find out from GRACE, and we had to find out from GRACE, and they still haven’t told us why, and they still haven’t told us why…how many times do our fingers of destruction have to type that.)

      “accusations in criticism of the University were nothing but assumptions. The anger, bitterness and declarations of injustice flowed from minds that connected non-existent dots and formed assumptions about BJU and its actions.” (back to ya)

      “it may have been difficult not to doubt. We read one statement from BJU and another from GRACE and may have been left with a genuine question: What’s going on here?” (nice of you to acknowledge that safely with the little word “may”–didn’t Ferguson mention something about using the word “may”)

      “Whether or not you have good faith in BJU’s actions, as Christians, our responses to sensitive situations like this should reflect what James commands in Scripture: “So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (back to ya)

      “Caustic words…do little to change a situation or convince others of your position. Those actions do, however, display a bitter heart that is quick to speak before waiting, listening and understanding the circumstances at hand. More importantly, biting words divide the body of Christ and harm any semblance of a gospel testimony. Arguments were written through those Facebook comments — arguments from Christian people who supposedly love Jesus.”
      (isn’t there a verse about a log and a speck? “supposedly” says it all)

      “And about what? About information that wasn’t fully made known to the public at the time.”
      (or fully made known to GRACE, or fully made known to GRACE)

      “Those who are deeply invested in the GRACE investigation, and especially those who are feeling a sense of injustice during this pause in the project, can do one very important thing at this time: pray.” (Then shut the BJU Facebook page down so you can just pray and not be offended by the action.) (nice word “pause”…right word “terminate”)

      “It may be the simplest answer, but it is also the most difficult. It’s the humble course of action that expresses complete faith in a Power that is beyond ourselves. Committing this situation to prayer shows a surrendered heart, a heart that isn’t spewing irate words, but a heart that says, “God will take care of this.” (then why write this article and spew more irate words…go commit it to prayer…if you would at least acknowledge that many of those defending the university were spewing irate words…)

      “We must commit BJU’s relationship with GRACE and the investigation to prayer. No matter your opinion or confusion toward the situation, God’s work transcends man’s work; so pray that God’s sovereign work will be done through this investigation. It’s the most effective choice we can make — far more effective than dividing the body of Christ through our own uninformed words.” (Lead the way, then, be our example, revise or retract this article, make an apology for your hypocrisy, go back to your dorm room and pray…far more effective…)
      —————-

      Very reassuring from BJU’s Journalism and Mass Communication program page:
      “At BJU…you’ll learn why biblically defined truthfulness and ethical behavior in news are pre-eminently important and, ultimately, pleasing to God. Then you’ll explore how to relate appropriately to people as both sources and topics for your articles or news stories, and how being created in the image of God gives everyone inherent worth.” (mmm-hmmm.)
      “how to handle sources ethically in your interviewing and observation”
      “a better grasp on how people think and how to connect with your audience”
      Division of Communication page:
      “It is imperative that Christians be adequately prepared to communicate the gospel and defend Biblical values against an increasingly antagonistic secular society.”

      The only positive thing to say is that at least they put it under the Opinion page. Otherwise they have much to learn.

    1. A James

      Sorry, JP. Since you are new here, I’m not familiar enough with you to know if you wanted a snarky or sincere answer. The sincere answer is that a lot of these countries will overlook your beliefs because they want your English skills in order for their people to better learn the language. They will not let missionaries in, but they will let educators or other usefully skilled people in that can also teach English as a second language. Usually, though, they will not let you overtly teach your Christian or Biblical doctrine. So, “non-transparently” works for snarky and sincere. For example, in some countries, though you might not can share your faith outright in an academic setting, you are allowed to share “one-on-one” or if a person asks you of their own accord. I don’t know what arrangement/requirements would have been placed on BJU specifically in China. Government policies vary, but the above description is the gist.

      1. A James

        This little thumbs down caught my eye. If my information is wrong, please let me know. I’d like to have my information filled in or rounded out. I have a decent amount of experience and/or knowledge about tent-maker style missions, missions in closed countries, and English as a second language. I have far more knowledge about this topic than the other topics I semi-ignorantly ramble on about, so I’m at a loss for the thumbs down.

        This is currently the method for getting the gospel to India, as well. The best way to get in the country is to be able to speak English and have a well sought after trade/skill.
        You are gold to these countries, and they will risk the religious influence you might have for the greater investment (from their perspective) of training their own people in worldwide marketable skills (primarily being able to speak English well). You might not be able to set up your own official church, but there are boundaries you can work within enough to share the gospel…the best way to reach those in these countries are with a converted national. Those nationals then have even more freedom to share the gospel and have influence. It is a noble investment.

        I am opposed to BJU getting caught up in this diversion at this time, or Stephen being the primary representative for it at this time. Our 87 year old ministry is falling apart even as they make their regular flights over there. What about the heritage and the students and the investment here? It is yet another credibility-reducing product of their weak leadership.

      2. baldjonesgrad

        A James, please blame my fumble fingers and this iPad. I tried to hit the thumbs up and accidentally hit the down spot. I totally agree with your post, and I learn a lot from your knowledge of this.

      3. A James

        Baldy, I haven’t been over here in a while (to give everyone including self a break from me), so I hadn’t seen your comment until today. I appreciate your letting me know on the thumbs down. I’ve had a serious complex problem going on from it 🙂 Just wait till the fundy preachers find out this could be one more danger of our fingers of destruction!

  2. baldjonesgrad

    They are probably hoping to recruit new students from China, hoping that these people will not have heard about the World’s Most Unusual University’s former policies on inter-racial dating; their lack of accreditation; and their lack of transparency with the killing of the GRACE investigation.

    And maybe they are looking for more donors to shore up their diminishing bank accounts.

    1. A James

      I have to pull out my transparency soapbox for a moment. Your comment has brought me to this. Would it have been so hard for BJU to have a posted public update on their website about the date of the scheduled GRACE meeting, who would be representing the university, and informing us that these negotiations would be ongoing until an agreement is reached?
      And they wonder why people check these “bitter” sites? Their openness about even such neutral topics would go a long way for people to not think their actions are suspicious or arrogant.

      I have also tried to be civil about the China project. However, when I learned about another flight to China in the midst of all this, my civility line has been crossed. Where is the online presidential application projected to be available by mid-February? Why did Stephen not attend, if he did not, the GRACE meeting? He is the President until May. They continue to use much time, health, energy, and resources for that empire, while this one is crumbling. Do they not realize this? Do they not care about the success or testimony in our own country?

      Now that I know about the SACS financial situation…and the Bible Conference project…again, I don’t understand. Most constituents would consider the accreditation to be a top priority (apart from resolving GRACE). Why not some transparency about the financial situation and raise money for the general account or whatever to help the future bottom line? I probably don’t understand the full situation, I admit. They just seem to be applying inadequate bandages where surgery is needed. Transparency would go a long way to building trust and goodwill. Why is it so hard for them?

      Putting soapbox away.

    2. baldjonesgrad

      A James, I have no knowledge of the thought processes of BJU admin any more. However, it appears that there is a total vacuum of leadership at BJU, so they are casting about for something to distract both themselves, and their donor base.

      The China jaunt is the agonal breathing of an organization in its death throes.

      1. A James

        “The China jaunt is the agonal breathing of an organization in its death throes.”
        What a sentence! I’ll have to quote you…after I look up “agonal” 🙂

  3. Waldo

    From the student perspective: where will they house the graduate students? I have a lot of friend who live in those buildings. I knew that the basement of Reveal was the old I.T. offices, so I wonder where those are going now. I have been told that Reveal was the oldest dorm and also the grungiest dorm, which is why the older folks who were more committed to finishing their [graduate] degrees were placed there.

    I had heard rumors about why the I.T. offices were moving out of Reveal– more housing space for graduate students/more apartment-style housing for students. I had no idea it was because they were simply bulldozing the buildings.

    My guess about the move to China: isn’t our current theory that the Jones family is trying to turn a profit off of this entire University thing? If they have an inroad to China, a closed environment (i.e., not a lot of info about some obscure Christian university gets in there so people don’t know about the bad parts of BJU’s past), and the bad info about them doesn’t get in, they have a fresh start! The university is prepared to deal with restrictive governmental policies—they lost the tax exemption war in the ’80s! Why would China be any different? There, the Joneses can start over and try to make more money without all this American baggage.

  4. Carson

    Short comment re higher-ed ventures in China. Our university has a branch campus there and I have taught there a a number of times. There are several challenges that are not easy to overcome: getting students from China to the U.S.; getting a curriculum authorized in China; getting money out of China for classes taught there. Obviously, these things can be solved and many colleges have activities there, but it isn’t easy.

    These challenges are especially significant for explicitly Christian educational organizations. The government in China has become more firm in the last five years and they no longer are nearly as willing to tolerate Christian sources of education because they (China) need English (or Western) education, China has a much richer supply of education links from high-ranking secular schools. In addition, the party has gained political strength, even in the central areas of the country, in the past five years or so. And even when arrangements can be made, getting money out of China is not simple or easy. As anyone who has worked very much with Chinese organizations or the government will say, much care must be taken in committing resources, signing contracts, joining joint agreements/ventures, etc. It is a minefield — the US State Dept warns as well as the many business ventures and educational ventures there; it might be something to investigate if you are fiscally healthy and definitely don’t need financial help; it is not a good place to go for aid if you definitely do.

    I hope it is not an apt analogy, but this reminds me of Israel going to Egypt for an ally when Babylon appeared to be prevailing at home.

    1. Clara English

      Why does it not surprise me in the least that BJU is charging forward on something they think will be a great idea but reality says otherwise? The entire “bubble” has been out of touch for decades, and it’s going to result in their utter ruin. That’s what happens with cultural and theological inbreeding – no one knows how to do anything but march in lockstep with what the dear leader says. Tragic on a number of levels.

  5. Pingback: The BJU Sex Abuse Coverup, Day 17 | The BJU Sex Abuse Coverup

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