Walls and windows are going up in the Chick-fil-A dining commons and the Civil Engineering Center, and the 280-bed residence hall on the north side of campus is getting closer to completion. We pray you are uplifted by the progress happening on these buildings, which are the beginning of our 10-Year Campus Master Plan. Watch the video to follow along with the progress.
God continues to bless Cedarville and its students by enabling them to find career positions quickly after graduation. Our latest First Destination Survey shows that 98.5% of our class of 2019 has found jobs or was enrolled in graduate school within six months of commencement in May. That’s an increase from 2018, which was 98.3%.
During our GO conference this year, which ran from January 7-9, we heard challenging messages about embracing missions as a way of life from Danny Akin, President of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. On the last evening of the conference, Dr. Akin challenged our students with a message from The Journals of Jim Elliot, who died in 1956 at the hands of the Huaorani people of Ecuador, whom he was attempting to evangelize. Elliot’s story remains a powerful testimony to the importance of spreading the Gospel. You can listen to conference messages online.
We were excited to welcome our Board of Trustees to chapel last Thursday as we continued in our Faithful series, looking at Nehemiah 8:1-12.
In this passage we see the word “understand” (or “understood”) five times. We see the word “people” 13 times, and we find “joy” three times near the end of the passage. In Scripture, repetition means that something is important, so we better pay attention. There’s something in this passage that the people (that’s us) should understand, which will lead to great joy. So what is it?
We must understand the Word of God to experience the joy of its truth. God speaks to us through His Word, and if we want to be mature followers of Christ, we need to let it do its work of teaching us and growing us into who He wants us to be. Time in God’s Word should be our daily practice and priority.
From this passage we discover these four truths:
- Read and study the Word.
- The Word reveals who God is.
- The Word reveals who we are.
- Properly understanding the Word ultimately brings great rejoicing.
There is a battle for our souls. We can either believe the truths of God’s Word or the lies of the enemy. I pray you daily dig into God’s Word, understand its truths and make them central to your life, and truly experience the joy of the Lord.
Let the Word do its work. This is the way. God has spoken.
This past year, as throughout the history of this institution, we have been blessed by a faithful God. With humble thanksgiving, we give Him the glory for all He has done at Cedarville. We also celebrate our Cedarville family who come alongside us to help us accomplish our mission to equip students with an excellent education and intentional discipleship in submission to biblical authority. As you review our 2019 Highlights, we pray that you are encouraged that our God has indeed been faithful and incredibly gracious to us, more than we could ever deserve.
How many of us actually stay to watch the credits after a movie? I’ll admit that, at least until Marvel movies came out, I usually leave the theater right after the last scene of the movie, skipping over the credits that recognize those who contributed to the movie.
As we came to Nehemiah 7 Monday in our “Faithful” chapel series, we discovered that this chapter is a lot like movie credits: We may have a tendency to just gloss over it. The chapter is full of a long list of names that are hard to pronounce, and we may wonder why God would include this in the Bible, anyway. But if we take the time to stop and see what’s there, we’ll discover — as with all Scripture — God has something for us to learn here.
As we studied this passage, we divided it into three sections and found practical application in each:
- Delegation (1-4) – Nehemiah delegated responsibilities to men who were faithful and God-fearing. We need to be faithful in whatever tasks God gives us right now.
- Registration (5-65) – Nehemiah walked so closely with God that he recognized when God was putting something in his heart. We will only hear God’s voice when we have spent time with Him through His Word and prayer.
- Contribution (66-73) – God wants generous people who support His work.
The big idea of this passage is this: God is faithful, and we can trust Him. The passage is not about God counting people, but that people counted to God. In the chapter, we find the fulfillment of promises God made to His people in the books of Daniel and Jeremiah. When God makes a promise, He will deliver.
Join us as we walk through Nehemiah 7 and discover our promise-keeping God.
So reads the headline of an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Another reads, “Where Did All the Students Go? Five Views on the Great Enrollment Crash.”
The Lord has been kind to us.
While nationwide enrollment is down 1.7%, we experienced another record in freshman and overall enrollment. These are very good days, and we hope to keep it that way. Higher education in general has some problems that we will have to overcome in order to do so. Please allow me to make you aware of some of the coming challenges.
- Smaller Net Tuition Revenue Increases
As we look at the sector of higher education, Moody’s has issued a negative credit outlook and has recently stated that net tuition revenue (NTR) would drop to an increase of 1.1% for small private colleges.
- Increasing Discount Rates
As discount rates increase, it means serving the same or more students with the same or less money. As the resources become tighter, faculty and staff are asked to do more. Schools that are desperate to survive drive up their discount rate to unsustainable levels. That competition forces other schools to increase their discount rates to remain competitive. There is a bubble that will eventually burst. We want to position ourselves at the bottom of that bubble so that we can survive and even thrive after it happens. Our overall discount rate is in the low 40s. Here is a chart on 2019 freshmen that gives some perspective to that.
- Declining High School Graduates
The number of high school graduates is expected to decrease significantly beginning in 2025 and continuing through 2030. Some estimate this number as high as 15% nationwide. Combine lower NTR with higher discount rates and fewer students to recruit and you will see our sector become more and more competitive with more schools closing. Here is a chart that provides two different projected models for high school students in Ohio.
We must prepare well for 2025-2030. If at all possible, we don’t want to be in a position of reducing our faculty and staff during that time frame. This means we should at least consider the following steps to prepare for what we see coming.
- Remain Fiscally Conservative
We are trying to eliminate all debt. We do not need to take on new debt unless we have to do so for revenue-generating construction, such as residence halls. We will raise the money for all new buildings in the Campus Master Plan and pay cash for them. This also means that we have to be careful not to expand too quickly in times of prosperity. We must continue to budget conservatively and not take growth for granted. Finally, we must be good stewards of what we have and reinvest wisely to ensure future stability and growth, both in academic programs and in maintaining existing facilities.
- Create Reserves
We will be working to create reserves that can help cushion any enrollment decline. In our budgeting processes, we will develop fiscally conservative budgets that give us room to absorb an enrollment miss. We will also use some portion of any surplus generated by this conservative budgeting over the next five years to ensure we pay cash for buildings and to create financial reserves through quasi-endowments. My goal over the next five years is to work hard to set aside dollars with the anticipation of using that pool of funds, if needed, to keep our institution stable through the projected enrollment crash. This stewardship of our resources would provide stability, Lord willing.
- Efficient and Student-Friendly Transfer Policies
A rule change from NACAC this year now allows schools to more aggressively recruit transfer students. This has not happened in the past, and it will put pressure on schools to make sure they are as student friendly as possible. This means we must be student friendly when it comes to transfers: generous in our acceptance of credit, efficient in our response times, and aggressive in the retention of our own students and the recruiting of other transfer students.
- Maintain Our Mission and Purpose
If we continue to stay true to our mission and purpose, then we may not experience the decline as significantly as other schools. I believe that God has blessed us because we have faculty and staff who genuinely love the Lord and teach in accordance with a biblical worldview in every course. We must resist all challenges to a biblical worldview in every discipline and in every classroom as well as across every co-curricular campus activity. By staying true to our vision of standing for the Word of God and the Testimony of Jesus Christ, not only are we faithful to our Savior, but we also create a unique purpose driven education that attracts Christ-followers.
Right now God has blessed us with a season of prosperity. We need to double down in dependence upon Him through prayer and give Him the praise that He alone deserves. Attempting to be faithful stewards, our goal is to make wise decisions that honor Christ and serve you well. Toward that end, we will continue to be fiscally conservative even in the midst of an aggressive Campus Master Plan, and while we will celebrate our enrollment success, we know that we must keep working hard as the education sector anticipates difficult days ahead. By God’s grace and diligent preparation, we will continue to transform lives through excellent education and intentional discipleship
The Ohio Department of Higher Education has awarded Cedarville University a five-year, $411,600 grant to provide student scholarships. The Choose Ohio First scholarships will be used for incoming students starting in the fall of 2020 who are either computer science or computer engineering majors. This award will continue to make Cedarville accessible for Christian students seeking an outstanding computer science or engineering degree and is another recognition of the quality of Cedarville’s School of Engineering and Computer Science.
The start to 2020 will bring plenty of opportunities to connect with Cedarville. We will host prospective students and families on January 17 for CU Lead on January 18, a one-day conference that equips students to “Lead Like Jesus.” On January 24, current and future worship and music leaders will come to Cedarville for the Worship 4:24 Conference to learn how to lead their congregations in praising and honoring King Jesus. And then, we’ll have another opportunity for prospective students and families to learn about Cedarville at CU Monday on Presidents Day, February 17.