Cedarville Alumni and Family Questions and Answers

The Cedarville family is walking through a season of change. Dr. Bill Brown is completing the 10th year of his presidency and preparing to transition into the role of Chancellor, along with Dr. Paul Dixon. The University will celebrate Dr. Brown and Lynne’s legacy in the coming months, even as the presidential search has already begun. 

Earlier this month, Dr. Carl Ruby ’83, Vice President for Student Life, announced that he would conclude his service to the University. Dr. Ruby’s impact has been profound, and saying good-bye on January 15 was not an easy day. Our students declared it Ruby Tuesday, honoring a man who has influenced students’ lives for nearly 30 years.

Higher education is changing, too. New expectations. New priorities. New pressures. Cedarville University is not immune. We must adapt in order to thrive in the 21st century. At its January 24–25 meeting, the Cedarville University Board of Trustees discussed budget priorities and assessed academic programs. Cedarville is making strategic (yet sometime difficult) choices while focusing on affordability and investing in student scholarships.

While we talk about change, there are also important things that are not changing ... like our core values and doctrinal commitments that help to define Cedarville's unique place in Christ-centered higher education. The essence of our identity exists not only in the vision of our leaders, but in all of us who invest our lives here.

Cedarville alumnus and pastor of Grace Baptist Church, Dr. Craig Miller '79, addressed the University family on this difficult season of change in chapel. His words weren't necessarily easy to hear, but they turned each listener to Truth. Listen to chapel messages from these two dates:

Listen to February 5 Message Listen to February 6 Message

Season of Change

In the January 2013 Alumni eNews, campus pastor Bob Rohm '68 provided perspective about the change taking place at Cedarville.

Why is the University planning to conclude the B.A. in philosophy program?

Every five years, in an ongoing effort to steward the University's resources, the Academic Council reviews majors to determine whether they are meeting goals and are sustainable. The review considers both quantitative and qualitative data, including the number of current majors, enrollment trends, and faculty loads.

As of January 8, 2013, the University had just nine students majoring (or double-majoring) in philosophy in all four years of study. Unfortunately, there had also been a downward trend in philosophy enrollments in the past four years.

At the conclusion of the fall 2012 program reviews, the Academic Council made the difficult choice to recommend that both the B.A. in philosophy and the B.A. in physics majors be concluded at the end of the 2012–13 academic year.

At its January 25, 2013, meeting, the Board of Trustees approved the recommendation of the Academic Council, and assured students of its commitment to philosophy courses and their contribution to critical thinking skills in this prepared statement.

    “In line with the University’s stated objective to equip Cedarville graduates who think broadly and deeply, the Board affirmed that the philosophy minor should continue and be strengthened, that philosophy courses will be available to all students as part of general education, and that the Honors program should continue to be a priority. All current philosophy majors will be able to complete their programs, as required by our regional accreditor, the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.”

As you can imagine, the decision to eliminate any major is difficult, but Cedarville University is not alone in this process. A recent The Wall Street Journal article described the fiscal challenges facing higher education. The article referenced nearby Wittenberg University (Springfield, Ohio) and its working through a similar process.

More recently, Inside Higher Ed reported on a Moody’s Investors Service pessimistic forecast for colleges and universities. Acknowledging there will be opposition when tough choices are made, this report, too, emphasizes the importance of institutions making difficult decisions to reduce their costs and increase affordability for students.

Higher education is changing. New expectations. New priorities. New pressures. Cedarville University is not immune. It must adapt in order to thrive in the 21st century. Cedarville is making strategic (yet sometime difficult) choices while focusing on affordability and investing in student scholarships.

Why did Dr. Carl Ruby leave?

Dr. John Gredy, Provost, announced to the University family on January 10 that he and Dr. Ruby had come to a mutual understanding and that Dr. Ruby would conclude his service to Cedarville University. His last day in the office was shortly thereafter, although Dr. Ruby’s administrative contract continues through June 30. The University is committed to protecting the privacy of its employees so is not commenting publicly on the reasons for the decision.

Sadly, much speculation and questions have arisen. The Board of Trustees at its January 25 meeting carefully reviewed the events surrounding the announcement that Dr. Carl Ruby would conclude his service. The Board acknowledged and expressed regret that the lack of clarity had made this transition even more difficult for the Cedarville University family. Nonetheless, the Board of Trustees supported the understanding between Dr. Ruby and the administration. The Board of Trustees expressed its gratitude to Dr. Ruby for his service.

Dr. Ruby built a legacy at Cedarville, and he will be missed by many. The passions Dr. Ruby embraced were not simply his personal interests, but rather reflect core values of the Cedarville family. The University is committed to continuing these priorities.

How will the Vice President for Student Life position be filled?

On January 29, 2013, Dr. John Gredy announced the appointment of Kirsten Gibbs ’93 as Acting Vice President for Student Life and Dean of Students. This appointment was effective immediately and allows for a seamless transition after Dr. Carl Ruby concluded his service to the University.

Kirsten will represent the Student Life Division as part of the senior leadership team. A passionate advocate for students, she has worked at Cedarville University since earning her bachelor’s degree in 1993. She later completed a master’s degree in administration from Central Michigan University.

This interim appointment will extend, at least, through the academic year, with the selection and permanent appointment of the Vice President for Student Life following the naming of Cedarville's next President, anticipated this summer.

Why is President Bill Brown leaving?

Dr. Bill Brown, President of Cedarville University since 2003, shared with faculty, staff, and students in chapel on October 29, 2012, that he will step down as President, effective June 30, 2013. Read the official announcement. Dr. Brown said he and his wife, Lynne, had been prayerfully considering this decision since last year.

The student newspaper, Cedars, dedicated an issue to Dr. Brown’s announcement. Read stories and perspectives:

Following his presidency, Dr. Brown will serve as Chancellor. Along with Dr. Paul Dixon, who became Chancellor in 2003, he will represent the University, maintain speaking opportunities, and raise funds.

Is Cedarville changing its commitment to biblical truth?

Cedarville University’s commitment is “to the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.” That reality remains just as true today as it did in decades past. Cedarville’s theology and doctrinal commitments remain unchanged, as does its intentional focus on equipping Christian students for lifelong leadership and service.

The University’s identity reflects three foundational commitments:

To the Word of God

Cedarville University gives God the glory for the institution’s rich heritage of faithful commitment to His inerrant Word. The University views its doctrinal statement as its foundational document. The statement is embraced, without reservation, on an annual basis by trustees, administrators, faculty, and staff. Cedarville underscores its commitment to the Word of God by including a Bible minor in the course requirements for every major. Students also attend chapel five days a week. The University has established and will continue its unique place within Christ-centered higher education as a conservative evangelical university.

To Cultural Engagement
Cedarville trains students to know and understand the culture, enabling them to engage it intelligently and impact it for Christ. Every aspect of campus life, even professional programs, equips students to influence people toward the Lord.
To the Great Commission

Cedarville participates in fulfilling Christ’s great command to make disciples. The University comprehends a changing world and is committed to serving that world. “For the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ” has been Cedarville’s motto for more than half a century.

Is Cedarville having financial problems?

Thankfully, God’s gracious provision — including record enrollments and increased giving — have allowed Cedarville to operate from a position of strength. In fact, the University has operated balanced budgets for more than 30 years. The pressures of the current economy, increased college costs, and uncertainty of the future of higher education require forward-focused, conservative fiscal management to assure Cedarville’s long-term economic stability.

In October, the Board of Trustees mandated that administrators create a budget for the 2013–14 academic year that would include an additional $4 million for capital expenditures and operational requirements, all while limiting any cost increase for students. In the future, these additional funds will also provide financial flexibility to address the uncertainty of the higher education environment.

This challenge was presented to faculty and staff in November, along with an invitation to engage in the process. More than 200 cost-saving/revenue-creating ideas were submitted, many of which were included in the budget proposal. At its January 2013 meetings, the Board approved the balanced budget as presented by Cedarville’s administration.

Work on the budget is ongoing, and the Provost announced that a detailed report would be provided on February 11. Even still, total expenditures for the approved budget will increase, as will expected revenue.

Are all of these decisions linked together? Is the Board of Trustees making Cedarville more "conservative?"

First, please be careful with linking events or decisions. Some have drawn wrong conclusions as a result of misinformation and speculation. For example, the discussion regarding the philosophy major began in May 2012. Dr. Ruby’s decision to conclude his service was announced in early 2013. While some question a shift in ideology due to these events, there was no intentionality on the part of Cedarville’s leadership to link these together.

Second, there are rumors about Cedarville’s Board of Trustees and the future direction of the University, claiming it’s headed toward fundamentalism and that the most evangelical voices at Cedarville are leaving.

Cedarville’s Board is made up of men and women who love Jesus and serve Cedarville University with their time, talent, and resources. Each Trustee annually affirms the doctrinal statement and community lifestyle commitment, as does each faculty and staff member.

As the Board launched the search for the next President of Cedarville University, it issued a identity and mission statement to introduce Cedarville University to potential candidates. Affirming the identity that has defined Cedarville University’s unique place within Christ-centered higher education, this statement is available for your review at the presidential search website.

Have there been any resignations from the Board of Trustees?

There have been two resignations from the Board of Trustees this academic year. In December 2012, Mr. Randy Wilcox '81 resigned for personal reasons and on January 26, Rev. Chris Williamson stepped down as well. Rev. Williamson came to know Cedarville through the influence of Dr. Brown and Dr. Ruby, and with their decision to step away from Cedarville, he felt now was the right time for him to resign. Both Mr. Wilcox and Rev. Williamson served the University with honor and their departure will be missed.

The University welcomed Dr. George Miller, III, senior pastor of North Syracuse Baptist Church, to the Board. He is a former president of Davis College and is a passionate advocate for multicultural ministry and racial reconciliation.