LOUISVILLE (PNS) When you talk to Jeff Arnold, executive director of the Association of Presbyterian Colleges and Universities (APCU), you can’t help but feel optimistic. Following the organization’s annual Presidents’ Conference, his view is that faith-based affiliations among Presbyterian schools are getting stronger and growing due to the strength of connections offered by APCU.
The organization, which has 56 member institutions, has seen strong growth in recent years and continues to provide value for affiliated schools.
“We’re probably as strong as ever,” Arnold said of APCU’s health. “We’ve had a lot of enthusiasm over the past year around some of the new initiatives we’ve put in place that are beginning to pay dividends to the schools.”
Hannam University in South Korea joined APCU this past year as the first institution outside of the U.S. and Puerto Rico, and Arnold sees this as a good indicator of how schools are benefiting from their affiliation.
“Their new president—Duk-Hoon Lee—is a graduate of Hannan,” Arnold said. “Unlike his predecessors, he decided the school should return to its Presbyterian roots and was very interested in reconnecting with the church. He has really made a great effort to bring the school back into the fold, so to speak. Part of that effort was to gain membership in the APCU.”
Arnold says institutional health is on the mind of every higher education leader he encounters—whether they represent a large and prestigious Ivy League school or a small and possibly struggling liberal arts college—and schools look to APCU for guidance, information and assistance in this area.
“We’re doing some things in the longer term that we believe will influence their enrollments in a positive way,” Arnold said. “We’ve established a peer-advising network so that we can work within our group to strengthen each other. And that’s been very well-received because I think there is a great deal of credibility among and within the association as [institutions’] presidents have already expressed some issues and are having success in sharing their methodology with other presidents in the association.
“Our presidents from the board can quickly and effectively explain what the APCU is all about, what we can be doing to help them and encourage them to be active in the association.”