ARPTalk (Extra-1)

September 22, 2008


                                              EBK RIP

For the past fifty (50) plus years the E. B. Kennedy Scholarship has been the premiere program for attracting students to Erskine College. It is estimated that as much as 40% of an entering Freshman Class has been introduced to Erskine College through the EBKS. The EBKS has been successful in attracting students who reflect the historic vision of Erskine College of combining rigorous academic achievement with robust Christian understanding, commitment and leadership.

Last week a memo was sent out from President Randy Ruble’s office to the Board and Faculty of Erskine informing them that the scholarship has been withdrawn by the EBKS Foundation. Erskine is now seeking to implement new approaches to recruitment and financial aid which involve significant changes to the EBKS program, and apparently these changes are not acceptable to the EBKS Foundation.

For fifty years the EBKS has owned the respect and gratitude of all quarters of the ARPC. In the 35 years I have been in the ARPC I have NEVER heard anyone speak ill of the EBKS. It has been applauded by all. The recipients of the EBKS are the “Who’s Who” of Erskine College.

One wonders what changes could bring about the demise of the EBKS. For most of us, the EBKS represents what is grand, generous and far-seeing in a historic ARP family.

It is reported that the Office of Admissions at Erskine College envisions a new direction for the college. What is that direction?

Recently there has been a shakeup of personnel in the Office of Admissions. New people have been brought in, mostly from Furman University, Greenville, SC. Prominent in the new personnel is the long-time Director of Admissions at Furman University. What change in direction does this “Furmanization” of the Office of Admissions bode for Erskine and the ARPC?

In the 1980s the Administration of Furman University plotted a course that led to a dissevering of Furman’s historic ties with the Southern Baptist Convention of South Carolina. Prominent in the division were THEOLOGICAL and IDENTITY issues.

At this time both Erskine College and Erskine Theological Seminary are involved in THEOLOGICAL and IDENTITY issues with the ARPC. Forgive my suspicious nature, but is there a plan to take Erskine College and ETS in a direction of independence from the ARPC? If there is, tell us. We can talk!

At the meeting of the 2007 General Synod Dr. Ruble indicated that his Presidency would be short and that his task was to QUICKLY get Erskine upright and stabilized. It seems that Dr. Ruble is now setting a new direction and time schedule, and it also seems that things at Erskine are more unsettled than ever. What are his intentions now? What direction is he setting for Erskine? What is his vision?

When Dr. John Carson became President of Erskine there were no questions as to his direction. In articles in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian and other publicationsand in speech-after-speech he made clear his vision: (1) academic excellence; (2) Christian commitment and leadership; and (3) a direction that brought the college and seminary back to the heart of the ARPC.

Indeed, we have heard much of a new vision statement for Erskine. We also hear that the language of academic excellence and Christian commitment are being replaced with less rigorous—more politically correct and devaluated language.

Should we be alarmed? Indeed, one looks in vain through the archives of the Erskine NetNews to find a clear and full statement by Dr. Ruble of his goals, plans, and directions for Erskine. Rumors are about of restarting a football team and attaining more diversity in the student body. Whether we agree or disagree, we understand football. However, what does “more diversity” mean? As has already been asked, does that mean a lowering of the academic standards? Does that mean a lowering of the emphasis on evangelical identity and Christian commitment?

As Dr. Carson framed an unambiguous statement on direction, will Dr. Ruble do the same? It’s time to do that. A clear statement such as Dr. Carson framed may go a long way is dispelling criticisms and doubts.

The Associate Reformed Presbyterian and Erskine NetNews are good places for posting such a document. ARPTalk is also prepared to provide unlimited and unedited space to Dr. Ruble for posting such a document. ARPTalk is prepared to provide unlimited and unedited space for responses to the criticisms and questions that have been raised in this issue of ARPTalk.

These are my thoughts,