Higher Education

Reflections on the Life of Robert L. Thomas

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By William D. Barrick. Reposted with permission from Dispensational Publishing House.

Robert L. Thomas, Th.D. (June 4, 1928-Sept. 6, 2017)

Dr. Robert L. Thomas modeled this truth in his own life and ministry in the Word of God. Throughout his teaching ministry (1959-2008) he applied his brilliant, God-given mind to Bible study, research, writing, and teaching. That career culminated in December 2014 with Dr. John MacArthur announcing the awarding of professor emeritus status to Dr. Thomas in honor of his 49 years of full-time teaching on the graduate level (1959-2008).

As a member of the Evangelical Theological Society from 1961 until the present, Dr. Thomas gathered with his peers and helped to guide the society. He served as secretary-treasurer, Far West Section (1969-1970); vice-chairman, Far West Section (1970-1972); chairman, Far West Section (1972-1973); led in the formation of a new section for the Pacific Northwest (named the Northwest Section); National Membership Committee member (1979-1982; 1984-1988); vice-president, president-elect and president (1988-1990); and executive committee member (1990-1994). Throughout the history of the Dispensational Study Group in ETS, Dr. Thomas attended the meetings, presented papers and engaged his peers in the ongoing discussions of hot-button topics.

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Three Ingredients for Higher Education Survival

In his recent well-crafted article, “Higher Education Seeks Answers to Leaner Years,” Jon Marcus of The Hechinger Report has provided a resonant clarion call for higher education leaders. Marcus quotes one administrator who acknowledges that, “We inherited a system largely conceived in the 1960’s … but times, society and students have all changed dramatically.” Marcus describes an industry wide seismic shift that continues and has not yet resolved.

So where this is all headed might not be apparent for quite some time. What is clear, however, is that the current model for providing education and degree qualification is facing huge decreases in demand and rising costs of doing business well above the level of inflation. Those two market keys signify that higher education is no longer viable in its current form. The question with which schools must wrestle is whether they are Blockbuster Video or Old Spice.

Blockbuster Video was entrenched in its video rental model and was late to the digital subscription market. While Netflix was skyrocketing, Blockbuster stores were closing. Old Spice, on the other hand, while remaining true to its core product, recognized it was outmoded and revamped to communicate with its next-generation market, successfully building market share. Blockbuster’s product was no longer desired in the market. Neither was Old Spice’s. Blockbuster didn’t adjust quick enough. Old Spice did.

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The Disappearing Middle Class in Christian Higher Education, Part 2

Read Part 1.

Three Categories of Christian Higher Education Institutions: EUC, EMC, ELC

Despite continually rising costs of accredited college education, the number of full-time ministry roles are decreasing, and financial compensation for those roles is decreasing (relative to other vocations). Many Bible colleges are seeing decreased demand for their programs due to these simple market principles. This decline manifests itself in lack of sustained revenue growth on both the tuition and advancements side: there is less money to spend on tuition for education in this sector, and there is less money being given to support this sector.

For those schools that have predominantly relied on tuition revenue, the decline is, in many cases, catastrophic. The failure in revenue growth begets a failure to reinvest for future growth and infrastructure, contributing to already inefficient cost structures. The ultimate result for these schools is a visible and measurable decline that motivates even more prospective students to either choose larger colleges who have demonstrably greater resources and stability, or to abandon ministry majors altogether.

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The Disappearing Middle Class in Christian Higher Education, Part 1

According to ABHE’s 2015 statistical report,1 out of roughly 140 universities and colleges who have any official reported status with ABHE, there are only 5 non-denominational Bible colleges with attendance over 3202 students (including undergraduate and graduate studies): Columbia Bible College (407), College of Biblical Studies (423), Grace Bible College (883), Lancaster Bible College (1892), and Moody Bible Institute (3907).

According to ABHE’s 2011 statistical report,3 out of roughly 135 universities and colleges who have any official reported status with ABHE, there were 8 non-denominational Bible colleges with attendance over 320 students: Grace Bible College (324), Master’s College and Seminary (340), God’s Bible School and College (353), Columbia Bible College (493), College of Biblical Studies (493), Washington Bible College and Capital Bible Seminary (501), Lancaster Bible College (1189), and Moody Bible Institute (3501).

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