What a C.S. Lewis College Could Look Like
Not many new colleges are launching these days, as the cost of starting such educational institutions is fairly prohibitive. Smaller schools are struggling to stay open with a number of private institutions having shut down or merged in recent years.
The organizers of C.S. Lewis College believe that they have a model for educational success that will one day become a reality. That school is a vision of the C.S. Lewis Foundation, a nonprofit organization with a presence in the U.S. and Britain, and named for the Christian apologist who penned such literary classics as “Mere Christianity” and “The Chronicles of Narnia.”
Plans for a C.S. Lewis College have heated up in recent years, although the vision of launching a college based along the lines of what C.S. Lewis would espouse has been around since the Foundation was started in 1986. Led by Dr. J. Stanley Mattson, the Foundation has been holding educational seminars on both sides of the Atlantic for years and its idea of branching out to form a private Christian college has been long known and well received.
Its dream of founding a college have gained strength in recent years when a school campus in western Massachusetts was bought by the Green family, owners of the Oklahoma-based Hobby Lobby arts and crafts retailers. Soon after purchasing the property, the family announced that it would donate the 217-acre site to a Christian institution. That property was originally owned by evangelist D.L. Moody who opened a school for girls there in 1879.
The Lewis Foundation immediately was on the Green family’s list as recipient of the gift, but there were some financial matters to handle first, namely the college needing to raise enough funds to get started and see it through its first critical years. A December 31, 2011, deadline passed and the C.S. Lewis Foundation fell far short of its goal. The Greens have since identified a pair of semi-finalists including a Southern Baptist mission group and one representing the Grand Canyon University Foundation in Phoenix. The family has, however, left open the possibility that C.S. Lewis College might share the campus with the gift recipient.
The vision of C.S. Lewis College is quite detailed and includes the following:
- When fully operational, the school expects to serve up to 400 students. Some 40 faculty and 45 staff members would comprise the administrative and teaching sides of the college.
- A “Great Books” curriculum would be advanced and include titles that have shaped western civilization and include select books from the east. An arts curriculum would launch later.
- The school would not be affiliated and would welcome students whether Christian or not. The Foundation says that the college would welcome Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant faculty, educator with a distinctly Christian worldview.
- Students would receive instruction through discussion-based seminars and tutorials, not lectures. The idea here is to have faculty and students learn together.
Regardless of whether the C.S. Lewis College is operated on the Moody property in Massachusetts or elsewhere, its organizers are hopeful that a dream that they say is inspired by God will come to fruition. Meanwhile, the Green family is expected to announce its gift recipient this month, putting an end to much speculation and opening a rare opportunity for a new college to take hold in rural New England.