Graduates with Purpose: Celebrating Our Story
Sixth letter in a series of letters from our president, Andrea Luxton
To access the entire series of letters from President Andrea Luxton, click here.
March 3, 2023
Dear campus community and friends of the University,
Over the last several days, I have been speaking to you personally, directly from my heart, on a number of important issues relevant to the Andrews University community. Why now? It seems that at a time of change for the University, rumors and questions about the University increase. My intent then is to share with you as a way of clearly Celebrating Our Andrews University Story.
I have developed this series of messages prayerfully, keeping in mind our Sharing the Heart of God values that inspire the work of our dedicated University family of employees.
For the second of today’s messages (the first, sent earlier today, talks about The Research Imperative), I want to talk about our graduates and, in particular, share with you about the Andrews University environment that prepares them for a life of purpose.
I think one thing about the reputation of Andrews that is likely known and rarely questioned is that at Andrews you truly do have a strong academic experience and that provides our students with an excellent pathway to success, whether professionally or in graduate school. Comparing us with peer institutions in Michigan, and then peer Adventist institutions, the external agency Niche rating on academics puts us #3 in Michigan (including major public universities), #1 in Christian Universities in Michigan and #1 in Adventist Universities. These impressive rankings are validated by direct feedback from our students, with comments such as, “Great university with excellent academics and fantastic teachers” and “The best University if you are interested in serious academics.”
You might say this is not surprising and what you would expect. Yes, Andrews does have a strong reputation on its academic standards, and we are continually seeking to improve. We can be proud of the success of our graduates academically!
However, also vital within the frame of our unique identity is the faith commitment of our graduates. The National Student Survey of Engagement (NSSE) can help us with that. Among other points of comparison, this survey looks at freshmen and seniors and compares us with other Adventist peer institutions in North America. The good news is that in the latest survey we participated in (2019) the freshman responses rated Andrews University as the same as or in a few cases better than our peers. However, with our seniors—those who know us best—the news is even better: not only are we never behind our peers among the seniors, but there are now multiple areas where we rate measurably higher. To me, that speaks to what I see every day: the spiritual vitality on campus that inspires our students to even deeper levels of faith.
Here are the statements where our overall rating was significantly higher than our peer group:
- In addition to the Religion faculty, my professors in other departments discuss the ethical implications of what is being studied.
- My professors have encouraged me to be a thoughtful follower of Jesus.
- Extracurricular activities reflect the mission.
- The Bible has become more relevant to my life.
- As a result of my experience at my university I am more committed to the beliefs and values of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Andrews University seniors also indicated a higher frequency than their peers of having conversations about spiritual values with fellow students outside of class, as well as a higher frequency of spending time in personal, individual devotions.
What I want to note here is firstly that the average rates of all our Adventist institutions are high (mostly an average of around 4 on a 5 point scale). But I would add that very specifically the Andrews experience is clearly one that for most of our students deepens their faith, grows their love for Christ and encourages them to be faithful members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Statistics say a lot. And as we look at these figures we have many reasons to celebrate our learning and faith community. Statistics also suggest to us where we need to dig deeper and so we do that, too. However, powerful as those statistics may be, it is the stories of our students and our graduates that say even more. Do check out our FOCUS magazine—our annual report will be out soon; I can guarantee you will be humbled by what you read.
The vast majority of our graduates are poised to live a life of purpose: academically prepared and committed to a life of thoughtful engagement in faith and the Church.
"The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; Your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands" (Psalm 138:8).
And next Monday this series of messages concludes with: World Changers: Celebrating Our Andrews University Story.