May 13, 2022
Statement of the Grove City College Board of Trustees
On February 16, 2022, the Board appointed a Special Committee to
review certain matters. On April 13, 2022, the Special Committee
submitted its Report and Recommendation (“Report”). Today, the Board
voted to accept and adopt the Report. We thank the Special Committee for
its service and willingness to tackle a difficult subject.
After publication of the Report, some commentators questioned the
College’s positions on a number of issues. We have carefully considered
input from those criticizing the Report as well as those praising it.
After a full discussion at the Board, we publish this coda to further
emphasize three points made in the Report.
First, GCC will continue actively to recruit qualified minority
students. And the College will likewise continue to cherish and support
minority students with the same care and respect that it affords to all
students in relation to their particular needs. The College’s rejection
of Critical Race Theory’s politicized worldview must not be confused
with indifference to racial minorities or racial discrimination. To the
contrary, we cheerfully embrace the biblical teaching that God’s kingdom
includes people of all nations, races, cultures, and ethnicities. By
God’s grace, GCC may become a foretaste of that kingdom.
Second, GCC is an institution of higher learning. While the College’s
charter, traditions, and history define its vision and mission, it goes
without saying that free inquiry and robust discussion are critical
components of any successful college or university. We remain committed
to that freedom. Controversial subjects can only be studied through
critical examination of contending views. As the Report says, we expect
and want that to continue. Of course, this implies exposure to diverse
opinions, which we regard as necessary and salutary.
Finally, as the Report indicates we have every confidence in
President McNulty’s faithful, steady, and tireless leadership. The Board
affirms its policy-focused role and entrusts the College’s daily
operations to President McNulty, the staff, and faculty.
April 20, 2022
Report and Recommendation of the Special Committee of the Grove City College
Board of Trustees
The review by the Special Committee of the Grove City College Board of Trustees (appointed on February 16, 2022) regarding allegations of mission-drift has been completed (effective April 13, 2022). Please click here to review the report and recommendation of the Special Committee in its entirety:
READ FULL REPORT
February 16, 2022
Statement from the Grove City College Board of Trustees
The Board of Trustees is aware of recent commentary questioning whether Grove City College may be changing its mission, vision, or values. Our duty of care and loyalty includes stewardship of the College’s mission—an honor and responsibility that we take most seriously.
We unqualifiedly reaffirm GCC’s Christ-centered mission and commitment to a free society, traditional values, and the common good. That has not changed one iota and will not change on our watch. Fidelity to the College’s founding principles secures GCC’s unique place as an oasis in American higher education. In particular, the Board categorically rejects Critical Race Theory and similar “critical” schools of thought as antithetical to GCC’s mission and values.
In his written statement addressing the matter, President McNulty attempted to balance confidential personnel matters with assurances that remedial steps would be taken and more may be appropriate.
To that end, and with the encouragement of President McNulty, the Board has established a special committee to review alleged instances of mission-drift, summarize facts, identify remedial actions already implemented by President McNulty, and recommend any additional measures that may be appropriate.
David Porter, Secretary of the Board, will chair the special committee. The other committee members are Alice Batchelder; Deborah Holt, Treasurer of the Board; Anne McClelland; David Rathburn, former Board Chair; and John Sparks, former Dean of the Calderwood School of Arts and Letters.
We anticipate that the special committee will complete its work by approximately the end of March.
November 18, 2021
A Response to the CRT Petition
From GCC President Paul J. McNulty '80
I was hoping I would receive the petition currently circulating before providing this extensive response. I am responding before receiving the online petition because it has become clear that misinformed assertions included in the petition are unfairly threatening the reputation of Grove City College. Specifically, the petition notes, “From what we’ve observed, a destructive and profoundly unbiblical worldview seems to be asserting itself at GCC, threatening the academic and spiritual foundations that make the school distinctly Christian.” This is not true.
A Firm Foundation and Our Future
Since its inception nearly 150 years ago, this remarkable institution has courageously persevered in the face of powerful cultural headwinds. By God’s grace, our commitment to permanent ideas and traditional values is stronger than ever.
Indeed, on November 12, 2021, the Board of Trustee approved a new five-year strategic plan and unanimously agreed to the following vision, mission, and value statements:
Our vision: Grove City College strives to be a highly distinctive and comprehensive liberal arts college of extraordinary value. Grounded in permanent ideas and traditional values and committed to the foundations of free society, we develop leaders of the highest proficiency, purpose, and principles ready to advance the common good.
Our mission: Grove City College equips students to pursue their unique callings through a Christ-centered, academically excellent, and affordable learning and living experience.
Our value of faithfulness: By God’s grace, we remain committed to the same Christian faith embraced by the College’s founders and to seek, teach, and apply biblical truth in all that we do. While we continuously adapt our efforts in relation to the realities and challenges of this world, we serve a God who is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
Those familiar with Grove City College know that we take our commitments seriously. We mean what we say, and we stick to our principles. My job as president, for which I am accountable to the Board of Trustees, is to ensure that our faculty and staff are missionally aligned. Our leadership stands ready to address any pernicious ideologies that truly “threaten the academic and spiritual foundations of the College.” Regarding critical theory generally, we do not accept it as a proper framework for examining and understanding the real challenges faced in our fallen world today. We affirm that every human is made in the imago Dei, the image of God, and should not be defined by ideological categories.
The Petition Process, Cancel Culture, and Christian Engagement
Before responding to specific assertions in the petition, I want to offer a few thoughts about the petition process and the Christian academic enterprise. First, let us reflect on the chosen method for voicing concerns about these perceptions. Social media, such as used for the petition, offer valuable platforms for developing communities and presenting thoughts. At the same time, they can facilitate the communication of misimpressions, partial reports, hearsay, rumors, and other unreliable information. That reality is challenging enough, but when such communications form the basis of a petition that coalesces into attack, it is disheartening to say the least. Is there not a biblical standard for addressing concerns within the Christian community that runs counter to petitions and the potential for the widespread bearing of false witness against another? Should we not as Christian educators and parents be demonstrating peacemaking skills in the manner with which we address concerns and thereby offer transformative examples to our students? “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matt 5:9).
Second, please consider Grove City College’s academic mission. As an institution of higher learning committed to excellence, we examine a broad range of ideas through the lens of biblical truth. All truth is God’s truth, and we delight in learning and endeavor to be unafraid as we equip students to be salt and light in the world. We reject the cancel culture so prevalent in the academy as we encourage students to pursue truth freely. Disagreement with certain ideas, such as critical theory, should not exclude them from consideration. That would be a profound disservice to our students.
Further, there is an important difference between engagement on social justice issues and critical theory, a politically charged approach to the criticism of society that has no intellectual home at Grove City College. Dr. Carl Trueman, professor of biblical and religious studies here at GCC and the author of multiple critiques of critical theory, describes this distinction as follows:
Christians have historically been deeply involved in addressing injustice in society and we at GCC must not let the polarized nature of our times prevent us from continuing the tradition of faithful social concern we see in the lives of men such as William Wilberforce. Yet we must always do so from a distinctively Christian foundation, focused on the universal dignity of all men and women, boys and girls, as that is grounded in the image of God. We cannot allow anti-Christian ideas and approaches which subvert or supplant that foundation to drive our thinking on this matter; but nor can we abandon legitimate social concerns out of fear of being unfairly lumped together with those who press for social change but do so in ways that are incompatible with the Christian faith.
Addressing the Specifics of the Petition
Turning now to the specifics of the petition, I appreciate the invitation to correct misinformation. Please consider the following responses:
Critical Race Theory and Chapel Programming: CRT has never been promoted in chapel. This inaccurate charge stems from two chapel presentations over the course of a year. During an October 12 chapel service on the subject of mercy, students in attendance watched a six-minute TED Talk featuring Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative. Mr. Stevenson discussed his work on sentence reform for minors (e.g., 8- and 9-year-olds being sentenced to life in prison) and erecting educational monuments in Alabama pertaining to slavery. CRT was never mentioned nor advocated.
The second event concerns an address by Jemar Tisby. He was invited to speak in chapel in 2019, a year before Dr. Opitz began serving as the College’s chaplain. His visit was postponed because of COVID-19 until the fall of 2020. He spoke as one burdened by what he sees as the church’s historic complicity in racial injustice. I read his book, “Color of Compromise,” before his address, and my copy is filled with my personal notations of dismay over Christian support for slavery and Jim Crow, and disagreement about many of his conclusions. A panel discussion offering rebuttal observations was held several days after the event. Again, CRT was not the topic of this program. It is also worth noting that Mr. Tisby’s views appear to have shifted on CRT following his presentation even though the topic was not discussed.
The Office of Multicultural Education and Initiatives: This office, run by a director not a dean, has been in existence since 2012. The purpose of the office is fully aligned with the College’s strategic objective for campus unity as stated above. The office director provides occasional presentations intended to increase awareness of minority student experiences. Voluntary book reading groups have been organized, and the participants are a small mix of employees and students. Familiarity with contemporary writing, including objectionable ideas, is part of the educational experience in an academic setting.
I have investigated the issues concerning this office, and there is clearly a significant amount of misunderstanding, including that the facemask in question is not a rainbow flag. However, out of respect for the individuals mentioned in the petition and sound principles of management, I will not be discussing specific matters involving College personnel in this response. Significant care is taken in the hiring of College employees, and our campus community is richly blessed by their talents and dedication. Any concerns that may arise in the course of their work will be addressed appropriately to ensure that all employees adhere with GCC’s Christ-centered vision, mission, and values.
The President’s Advisory Council on Diversity: The Council was formed in the summer of 2020. We met six times between August 2020 and May 2021. The purpose of the Council is to assist me in determining how the College can be more successful in attracting and retaining minority students. It is not operational in any sense, and every reference to the Council acting in some manner, such as organizing book clubs, is misinformed.
The six 90-minute discussions last year were helpful, and I greatly appreciate the willingness of the group (administrators, faculty, staff, students, and an alum – none of whom are critical race theorists) to help us in the fulfillment of the Board’s strategic directive to:
Encourage the development of genuine unity among the entire campus community rooted in the biblical vision of Revelation 7:9 in which “every nation, tribe, people, and language” worship God in everlasting fellowship.
Books Used in Class: The College is committed to approaching every subject from a distinctively Christian perspective, and the wise selection of course materials is essential in the fulfillment of this mission. Our faculty universally support this principle. I appreciate the concerns expressed on this point. The academic leadership will address issues in this regard appropriately, collaboratively, and on a case-by-case basis.
An Academic Resource Center Form/Use of Personal Pronouns: The College’s Academic Resource Center uses a third-party software package for students to register for ARC services. Unknown to the College, the software providers inserted a request for personal pronouns. Upon discovery, the College asked the provider to remove those elements of the registration. The provider complied. Also, the issue pertaining to personal pronouns in the Education Department is being reviewed.
Final Thoughts and Thank You
GCC’s Core Curriculum: Any fair discussion about the threat of CRT should include consideration of GCC’s long-standing commitment to teaching every student about the history and culture of Western Civilization. While many programs are optional, this 15-hour curriculum is not. Furthermore, our Institute for Faith & Freedom offers a steady diet of critique of Progressive thought. An IFF program exposing the weakness of critical theory will be taking place next semester.
We all recognize that the College has made a profound impact on countless students as we equip them for faithful service in this world. This impact is the result of a wonderful collaboration of parents, alumni, faculty, and staff who share an unwavering commitment to the College’s mission and a genuine love for our students. Together, we trust in God’s kind providence to continue this transformative work at Grove City College long into the future.
Thank you for taking the time to consider these thoughts. Please accept my apology if I have failed to respond adequately to the expressed concerns. I welcome all inquiries, especially from parents, about the work of the College, and I will strive as best as I am able to respond in a timely manner.