3 Going Pro

The Growth of Professional Programs at Anderson University

Jerrald Fox

Over your childhood, and certainly as you made your decision to pursue a diploma at Anderson University, you likely heard the question, “What do you plan to do when you grow up?” That’s an important question to consider when committing several years and significant tuition money toward preparing for your future. Soon you’ll be applying for jobs and meeting with recruiters and interviewers. They will ask you even more important questions about not only your dreams but also your preparation and skills for the future you desire.

What do you think might be the most dangerous question an interviewer could ask when you apply for that first job, which you hope will launch your career? Career experts say it is this: Tell me about yourself.

What perils lurk in this simple question? Well, because the query is so broad, your telling of “your story” could ramble into topics that are irrelevant to your qualifications for the job. In fact, the things you share might instead lead the interviewer to question your focus and potential fit within the organization. All of the dynamics of human communication come into play in this simple question because we are multifaceted beings. Our stories are complex things.

Your telling of your story to another person carries the potential to create misunderstandings and tensions between the two of you. What you say can expose not only your experiences and preparation for a job, but also your beliefs, values, and priorities. Terms and topics that may seem quite innocent to you can be heard very differently by a listener. We all process what we hear within the context of our own life experiences and within our personal perspectives regarding the organizations to which we belong.

Paul Strozier, a member of Anderson University’s board of trustees and a gifted teacher of God’s word, shared a recent teaching series with the Madison Park Church in Anderson titled The Story. Over several weeks he explained how each of us is living our own life stories under the umbrella of the mega-story of our universe and its Creator. Pastor Paul opened the Scriptures and explored both current and historical events to examine these five acts of the larger cosmic drama within which we all live each day:

  1. God exists
  2. God creates
  3. God loves and cares for His creation
  4. Humankind sins and rejects God’s love
  5. God sacrifices and redeems humankind

Clearly, this mega-story and, frankly, any worldview you may choose to hold, begins with faith. Yes, faith. Each of us sees the world and our place in it by choosing to believe in something—or, for people of most religious traditions, someone—that precedes us, is greater than us, and helps give meaning to our own limited experiences and understanding.

In Bible times, as in our day, people had to make choices about their worldview. They had to find a focus for their faith that guided their daily living and their use of their abilities and resources. The New Testament’s letter to the Hebrews tells people of that day (and us today):

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible…And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:1-2 and 6, [NIV])

Your Anderson University Story

Today, as a university student, you are in the early chapters of writing your own story, your own subplot within the drama of this mega-story of humankind. You are in the midst of developing your own worldview and of placing your faith in something, or someOne, to give your life purpose and to guide you into making your individual story a great one.

You are also taking measure of your personal interests and your unique set of talents. And, with the help and guidance of parents, teachers, and other mentors and advisors, you may now be exploring the world’s needs to determine the vocation and preparation by which your talents and education might best intersect with them.

In that search you’ve now chosen to weave the story of Anderson University, with more than a century of preparing servant leaders for God’s church and society, into the narrative of your individual story. From now on, as a Raven, you are forever linked to an amazing group of alumni, teachers, ministers, researchers, artists, innovators, entrepreneurs, and visionary leaders. You have become part of a community that for many generations has been creating new stories of faith, hope, and loving service around the world.

Please read on. The pages that follow will introduce you to the AU story and, more specifically, to the creation and growth of its professional programs. These are areas of study carefully designed to prepare students like you for direct entry into specific fields such as business, education, engineering, church leadership, cybersecurity, social work, health care, and more.

Now, to grasp the real essence of any story it is important to understand the context in which it takes place. To build that context, great storytellers provide their audience with information about the “W questions” of their story’s setting: when, where, who, what, and why. For example,

  • When, within the span of history, are these events occurring?
  • Where is this action taking place, both geographically and culturally?
  • Who are the primary actors in this drama and whom are their actions affecting?
  • With what issues and dynamics are all of these people contending?
  • Why did they make the choices and take the actions that formed their stories?

From a War-Torn Nation’s Ashes, a Movement Begins

To grasp the story of how today’s Anderson University came to be the place you experience during your time on campus, you first need to understand the environment in which your university developed, its answers to those “W” questions. So, let’s begin with the where, when, and who questions.

The backdrop of the AU story is the Great Lakes region of North America in the final years of the 19th century. Because AU was birthed from the work of a group of people who called themselves the Church of God, we also need to know a bit about this group who saw themselves as a “reformation movement” among people of faith in that time and place.

In the decades following our nation’s bloody Civil War, the weary people of our country began a challenging period of “Reconstruction.” Efforts were made to redress the inequities of slavery and its political, social, and economic legacy. People across this Great Lakes region—and the nation as a whole—struggled to solve the problems arising from the readmission to the Union of the eleven states that had seceded during the war.

I’m sure that you’ve studied that time of national crisis in your high school history classes, so please reflect back on what you’ve learned about that era. Consider some of the questions and challenges facing Americans in the years following that bloody conflict. What was happening in their daily lives in the aftermath of the war? With thousands dead, including an assassinated president, how could they move through grief to a new beginning? With shifting economics and politics and the relocation of thousands of people, whom could they trust to lead them to peace and prosperity? How could they create jobs and opportunities and then prepare themselves and their children to do that work?

During our nation’s Civil War each side’s worldview and deeply held religious beliefs—ironically drawn from opposing understandings of the same sacred Scriptures—anchored their values and motivated their passions. Harry S. Stout, Yale professor of history, religious studies and American studies, writes, “It’s abundantly clear, as recent scholarship has demonstrated, that religion stood at the center of the Civil War for both sides. Both North and South looked to God for meaning, and each side believed—with equal fervor and certitude—that God was on its side” (Stout 2021).

But for both soldiers and their families the war’s devastating death and destruction had challenged their confidence in many of those core beliefs and traditions. Allen Guelzo, professor at Gettysburg College, has noted, “The Civil War would render moral absolutism less, rather than more, believable, and with long and unhappy consequences for American religion. . . . For every Northern divine claiming God’s favor for the Union, and every Southern one claiming God’s favor for the Confederacy, there were far more who could not make up their minds what to say about slavery. And taken together, they created a popular perception that religion had nothing reliable or coherent to say about the greatest American issue of the 19th century” (Guelson 2020).

When the world and your personal worldview shake beneath your feet, you must look for more solid ground. You seek something true and stable upon which to stand as you try to move forward. For many in post-Civil War America, that search led to a renewed understanding of the providence of Almighty God. It inspired a quest for His protection and provision. For many, that search took place within the teachings of a local church. The majority of U.S. citizens in that time and place identified as Christians. This connected them to pastors and church leaders who preached submission and loyalty not only to their Lord, but also to the specific doctrines, practices and authority structures of that church’s denominational hierarchy (Irons 2020).

Sadly, beyond the divisions of North and South, Union and Confederate, even followers of Christ found many stumbling stones that they used to build walls rather than bridges. Though the Baptists and Methodists and Presbyterians and Lutherans and other mainline Christian denominations each called upon the graces of a common Savior and Lord, they showed little grace to one another. Instead they often chose to “divide God’s church” by emphasizing their own specific creeds and doctrinal distinctions (Irons 2020). This separated rather than unified Christ’s followers. So, while the various churches indeed did much to rebuild community and serve the needs of hurting neighbors during Reconstruction, a general mistrust and lack of unity among Christ’s followers limited their effectiveness and diminished the living example which might draw others to share faith in their Lord.

A.L. Byers, an early professor of music at the school that would become today’s Anderson University, wrote of the divisive spirit of those post-war days: “It must be said . . . that whatever has resulted from Christian endeavor or influence . . . would have been in greater degree had the church back of these efforts been one spiritual whole instead of many sectarian divisions” (1921, 21).

Byers and other early leaders of the Church of God believed that the true body of Christ’s followers would be known not by their doctrines and creeds but by a unifying love for each other and those around them, just as Jesus had taught his first followers: “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other” (John 13:35 [J.B. Phillips]).

A Reformation Movement Begins

So, in this time and in this place, in the midst of these Reconstruction experiences, there began a movement of church reformers that believed all true followers of Jesus could in fact experience unity. They could share loving fellowship with other believers and followers of Christ, even their former enemies in the war. By God’s grace they could live holy lives as together they worked to rebuild and reunite their country.

One of these reformers had been a soldier in this Civil War. His name was Daniel Sidney Warner, a private in Company C, 195th Regiment, Ohio Infantry (Callen 1995). At the end of the conflict he returned to his family farm in northwest Ohio. In his school days before the war, he had displayed a gift for public speaking and skills in gaining the attention and interest of others. In fact, during pre-war political campaigns, his father, a staunch Democrat, was proud when his bright and well-read young son would mount a soap box and address an attentive crowd on the issues of the day. In wartime these strong communication skills earned young Dan the favor of his regiment’s captain, who made him his clerk and secretary. Now back home in his early twenties, looking for work in the post-war economy, he refined these study and speaking skills as he took up the occupation of teaching in the local school.

As noted earlier, A.L. Byers was an early professor at your university. He was also personally acquainted with D.S. Warner during the last years of Warner’s life. After interviewing many of his surviving family and friends and reviewing diaries shared by Warner’s son, Byers wrote of this post-Civil War time in Warner’s life:

It is natural that the question of religion should present itself to a young man or woman when approaching maturity. It is then that life is full of prospects, when one plans and builds for the future. It is then that opinions are formed, and there is an inclination to reach some kind of decision, for the time being at least, regarding every issue. One reaches this parting of the ways and the question comes, “Which road shall I take?” The answer, so far as religion is concerned, depends to some extent on what one has observed in those who make a profession, though it is true that the influence of the Holy Spirit alone–that monitor who makes his appeal to the inner consciousness–sometimes decides the question. (1921, 38)

By now you might be asking, “What has this story of a Civil War veteran-turned-school teacher and his search for ‘which road’ to take in his religious and professional life got to do with Anderson University and its programs to educate for a wide variety of professional careers?” Before getting to that, we must answer a few more of the “W” questions in the AU story. Perhaps you’ll agree that Dan Warner’s choice of paths—whether by astute self-analysis of his skills and opportunities or, as Byers speculates, through the influence of God’s Spirit moving in his life—has more to do with today’s AU and your time on campus than you may think.

“Adulting” Has Never Been Easy

Remember, all good stories are best understood within their specific context, the happenings of that time and place. In early 1865, as Abraham Lincoln spent the last months of his life trying to reunite the nation, Dan Warne—living on his own as a soldier—was back living in his parents’ house. He was still trying to make sense of this dynamic Reconstruction world and his place in it as he taught school each day.

Late that first year back home, he ended a day of school teaching by joining friends at another schoolhouse where some religious meetings were being held. Byers tells us that at this time in young Dan’s life, attending a religious meeting was likely not his first choice for an activity with his friends. He had been living the life of “an infidel” in this small community populated by Catholics and Lutherans where “[t]here was too much whiskey and tobacco and too little of genuine Christianity for a convincing testimony in favor of the latter” (Byers 1921, 38). Dan found little appeal in the religious habits of his neighbors and instead chose to pursue a life of amusement and distraction, singing and dancing sometimes until the wee hours of the morning. In fact, Byers tells us that even with his only sister on her death bed with a severe illness, one night Dan went to a dance hall. When he returned home very late, he found his mother at the door of his room. As only a mother can do, “she expostulated with her boy regarding his sinful career” (Byers 1921, 39).

Apparently, in the schoolhouse religious meeting with his friends that particular evening, God had other plans for Daniel Sidney Warner that would change his chosen path. That choice would ultimately set the stage for many other young people who, like him, were trying to find their own gifts and their calling in life. And some of those young people would create a place, ultimately a university (your university), where people could discover and develop their God-given talents and prepare themselves for lives of purpose and service around the world.

Real Life. Transformed.

It’s a powerful thing when your worldview is transformed and you begin to think of yourself and your life purpose in new ways. That night at a religious meeting in an Ohio schoolhouse, Warner seems to have experienced what the apostle Paul wrote about so many years ago in his letter to followers of Jesus living in Rome: “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2 [NIV]). Byers tells us, “The meeting was one of power, and sinners were made to reflect on the question of their soul’s salvation. On their way home . . . [Warner’s] companions were expressing their opinions as to religion, what it was, etc. One of them, addressing Dan, said, ‘What do you think it is?’ He replied, ‘I am going to find out’” (1921, 39). A transformation of his thinking and the direction of his life had begun.

Dan continued to teach school as he sought answers to his questions about religion and life. What was God up to in His world? And what was God’s path for Dan’s life in that world? So, as a new school year began that fall of 1865, he chose to further develop the talents of study and teaching that God had given him by pursuing higher education. He enrolled in an English preparatory course at Oberlin College and studied there diligently even as he continued to gain experience in his profession of teaching. Byers notes, “It is known . . . that his excellency of character shone while he was at school and was the subject of remark” (2021, 41). Warner’s life in those early years of his new faith embodied the words of Jesus’ disciple Peter: “If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 4:11 [NIV]).

While in his college studies, Warner continued to read the Bible, talk to ministers and more mature Christians, and grow in his faith and understanding of God’s gifting and calling in his life. He was troubled by the heartache and needs he saw around him as his nation emerged from war. He wanted others to experience the new hope and joy he had found by trusting and following Jesus Christ. So, he began to look for a church that taught what he was reading in the Bible, a church of believers serving others through the power and leadership of God’s Holy Spirit in their individual lives.

But what he found in the churches around him was disheartening. Remember the context of the post-Civil War churches? He began to question the divisions he saw among the many Christian groups. In his reading of the Scriptures he could not find any call to submit to a humanly devised creed or sectarian structure. And as he searched, he felt that God was calling him to leave his profession of school teaching and use his talents as a minister but not one who asked people to become a member of any sect or denomination. His study of the New Testament church—what he believed to be the true church—revealed a movement not governed by man-made religious rules but, instead, a body led and empowered by God’s Holy Spirit working through humble, obedient people.

That early New Testament church of Christ-followers that Warner saw in the Bible was made up of ordinary people, working people like carpenters, fishermen, doctors, lawyers, seamstresses, and tentmakers. They were “professional” people who had accepted Christ’s forgiveness by believing His sacrificial death had paid the price for their sins and reconciled them to their Creator. They didn’t all leave their professions; rather, they lived as transformed people even as they did their daily work. It bore witness to the apostle Paul’s words, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3: 23-24 [NIV]).

Warner studied and prayed and came to believe that no human being could create a creed or set of rules sufficient to organize this diverse movement of believers as God’s true church. Only the Holy Spirit working through surrendered lives could help each of them to discover, develop, and share the gifts God had put within them. Only the Holy Spirit could guide and empower them to use their talents for God’s glory and for the service of others.

In his profession as a teacher, and later in preparing for his calling as a minister, Warner saw the great value of using his talents to both glorify his Lord and serve the people around him, even as together they rebuilt their nation and their lives. But he also clearly saw his need for higher education and professional training to sharpen those talents. He wanted to broaden his understanding of the world, its history, its systems, and the tools and technologies available to do his work and fulfill God’s purposes for his life.

Tools, Technologies, and Training

Again, understanding the context of this story is important. It was the late nineteenth century with no electricity, no telephones or television, no internet, no cars (and most roads were dirt paths). In the later years of the 19th century, the communications tools available to teachers and ministers like Daniel Warner were public speaking (with no amplification) and publications, such as newspapers, magazines, and books. The transportation technologies available to reach an audience with your message were trains, riverboats, horses, and your own two feet. Warner needed to study the school subjects he taught and the Gospel messages he later preached, but he also had to learn how to use the travel and communications tools and technologies available in his time.

If the spoken word was his greatest tool to teach and to share his Gospel message with others, his studies of English literature and grammar would help him to write and speak with clarity and credibility. If publishing his writing was then needed to broaden the reach of his ministry, he would learn to edit and lay out newspapers and books, and even to operate a printing press. If entrepreneurship and leadership skills were needed to attract ministry partners and organizational skills were necessary to train and place them in helpful roles, with the guidance of God’s Spirit in him, he would study and practice to develop those abilities as well.

Byers writes of Warner and his ministry partners developing and sharing their various talents much like the early followers of Jesus:

We note the characteristics of the church in the days of the apostles, which, by reason of its recent founding and organization by the Holy Spirit, is naturally regarded as exemplary and ideal. It had no creed but the Scriptures and no government but that administered by the Holy Spirit, who “set the members in the body as it pleased him”–apostles, prophets, teachers, evangelists, pastors, etc. Thus subject to the Spirit, the early church was flexible, capable of expansion and of walking in all the truth and of adjusting itself to all conditions. . . There were no dividing lines, for it was the will of the Lord particularly that there be “one fold and one shepherd.” (Byers 1921, 11, emphasis added)

Obeying the Lord’s “Great Commandment”

Byers highlights that God created each of us to take our places in this world according to the unique gifts and abilities He placed within us. In considering Warner’s experiences and his own path into teaching, he explains the need for higher education and training that inspired AU’s early leaders: “There is necessarily the human element in the work of God, for Christian work is God and man working together; but in the true relation man is God’s instrumentality and is altogether in subjection to the divine Head, who rules over all” (Byers 1921, 16).

God and man work together to accomplish His purposes in the world. Jesus’ own words tell us that God created each of us to use the talents He has given us for two great purposes: first, to glorify Himself and second, to serve and bless others. When asked by religious leaders of His day to identify the “greatest commandment” by which people should live, Jesus’ answer elevated both of these purposes for which we are created: Jesus replied, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40 [NIV]).

AU Began as a Business . . . and a Professional Training Program

Anderson University was first known as Anderson Bible Training School. Because of that name, you might assume that we began with the narrow focus of teaching preachers about the Bible, and in a way, that is true. But my reading of our history seems to tell a bigger story, one that makes today’s extensive professional programs predate even ministerial studies on our campus.

Before there was any school, it seems to me that the founders of AU were in our current vernacular “professionals,” though, as volunteers in ministry, they would likely cringe at my use of that term. Yes, their primary purpose was sharing the good news of Christ, but as a tool in that enterprise, they were also “business people” in the publishing industry running a small kitchen-table company begun by—you guessed it—Daniel Sidney Warner. I told you that we’d eventually get to this connection with his story, didn’t I?

So now let’s ask more “W” questions. What led these evangelists and sometime businessmen to launch what at first was only a narrowly defined program to train skilled workers for a publishing company to spread the “good news” they printed? And then—the real focus of this essay—what later led them to expand that vision to become a comprehensive liberal arts university with a variety of strong professional programs? Context is everything to a good story, and the context for our AU story now begins with the relocation of this small publishing business to Anderson, Indiana, in the early 1900s.

Yes, these business managers saw themselves as ministers and evangelists calling others to faith in Christ, but they also used their considerable professional skills to produce valued products and services to sell in the marketplace. They created jobs, engineered work processes, innovated products, and developed markets to grow sales and generate cash flows. Over time they even expanded the scope of their enterprise by opening “Old People’s Homes,” staffed with healthcare providers (Callen 1988, 26). This multifaceted operation required visionary leadership, project management skills, engineers and construction managers, accountants, skilled tradespeople, marketing and salespeople, logistics specialists, public relations, and promotional workers.

The publishing business was called the Gospel Trumpet Company. After its shaky beginnings in a rented office on Illinois Street in Indianapolis (between today’s Monument Circle and the State Capitol building), Warner’s successors moved the publishing operations to several locations including Grand Junction, Michigan, where Warner died in 1895. His leadership role as editor for the enterprise fell to Enoch E. Byrum, part of the family honored in the naming of Byrum Hall, the theatrical arts center on AU’s campus. Over the next decade, they again moved several times before landing in Anderson, Indiana. Beginning in 1906, they built an impressive multi-storied cement block structure for the publishing business and its workers on the site where AU’s Decker Hall now stands. In fact, in the Decker Hall lobby across from the president’s office is an architect’s model of that first building, which came to be known as “Old Main.”

We Were a “Professional” School From the Very Beginning

Years before the 1917 formal launch of the Anderson Bible Training School (ABTS) as the “Education Department” of the Gospel Trumpet Company, the publishing firm’s leaders sought to grow their national salesforce—and enlarge the market and distribution of their products—by asking current readers to help them extend the reach of their ministry. They could support the work by selling subscriptions to the weekly Trumpet paper and promoting books and other new publications in their communities. But even the most dedicated readers and partners in their ministry needed some instruction in the best promotion and sales methods. Soon they also created a training program aimed at helping these aspiring salespeople to better develop their knowledge and skills. As early as 1909 in their flagship weekly newspaper publication, The Gospel Trumpet, they advertised a correspondence course in salesmanship:

Gospel Trumpet image 
Correspondence Course in Salesmanship text

Just take a look at that advertisement for new students. Three dollars per course sounds pretty good today, doesn’t it? But more importantly for our topic of professional programs at AU, it shows the continuous thread of a central guiding principle.

In the Scriptures so treasured both by AU’s founders and our campus leaders today, they read these words from the apostle Paul written to new followers of Christ in the ancient Greek city of Corinth: “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work” (1 Corinthians 12:4-6 [NIV]). From its very beginning—and even before it began as a Bible training school—Anderson University’s founders recognized that God has given His people a variety of talents. Not everyone is gifted and called to be a pastor, missionary, or minister. In his book Preparing for Service, A History of Higher Education in the Church of God, former Anderson University Dean Barry Callen describes this growing attitude when he cites a 1912 article from The Gospel Trumpet by H. A. Brooks titled “Advantages and Value of Education.” Callen says, “An increasing number of competent leaders was needed. Evangelistic teams needed singers with trained voices. The [Gospel Trumpet] company needed good writers, editors, and copy readers . . . . It was time for something important to be born” (Callen 1988, 26). Those founders believed that it was an act of worship and good stewardship for everyone to study, practice, and grow their particular talents to their highest potential for service to God and other people.

Surely by now you’ve read the AU mission statement and core values as part of your LART class assignments. Found in the university catalog and on our website, they will help you understand the commitments of your professors and the campus staff as they help you make educational choices and prepare for service:

The mission of Anderson University is to educate for a life of faith and service in the church and society…Through academic and Christian discovery, we intend to graduate people with a global perspective who are competent, caring, creative and generous individuals of character and potential . . . . Our identity as a Christian university can be described in three words: Real life transformed.

We aspire to be a transformative Christian community informed by these core values:

    • Servant leadership
    • Excellence
    • Integrity
    • Responsibility
    • Generosity (Anderson University Undergraduate Catalog 2021-2022, 4)

These were also common themes found in the publications of the Gospel Trumpet Company, and from the start, they have shaped the education programs offered by the Anderson Bible Training School (ABTS), the educational department of that publishing business, later by Anderson College, and still today Anderson University.

A Professional Purpose, Then and Today

In AU’s very first academic catalog, published for ABTS in 1918, just prior to the start of its second year, Joseph T. Wilson, the Gospel Trumpet Company’s new president, is listed as the chairman of the School Committee and the school’s first principal. Wilson had joined the Trumpet family shortly after it located in Anderson, and his education and professional skills had elevated him to become general manager before his appointment as president in 1917. Once in that role, he wasted no time in forming the School Committee and expanding the Gospel Trumpet’s educational offerings beyond just training for its own employees. They offered classes to all people with a desire to develop their talents for service to God and His world. He writes about the school’s first days and the founders’ purposes and goals:

On Oct. 2, 1917, the opening day, a large company of interested young people were present to begin their studies; and everything considered, the first year of this work brought very gratifying results. . . . Although the war [World War I] is sure to limit the attendance to some extent, the prospect is that there will be a much larger body of students during the present year.

A number of causes have contributed to the founding of the Anderson Bible Training School. The chief of these has been the great desire for such an institution on the part of many young people who feel called to the ministry and yet realize the need of being better qualified for their work. . . . There is also a great need of more good writers, editorial workers, and copy-preparers; and these must be educated among us or go elsewhere to get the necessary education. (Catalog of the Anderson Bible Training School, 1917-1918, 1918)

Why the concern that young people associated with this reformation movement known as the Church of God might seek higher education elsewhere? Let’s revisit the historical and cultural contexts for our AU story.

The Strained Relational History of Academy and Church in America

Higher education in the United States began while we were still a colony of England. Furthermore, it began as “Christian” higher education, with the first schools founded by the early settlers’ church leaders. They wanted to make sure they had prepared the next generation of leaders to enable their children to survive in their new American home. Harvard College began in 1636 with this statement of purpose:

After God had carried us safe to New England, and we had builded our houses, provided necessaries for our livelihood, rear’d convenient places for God’s worship, and settled the Civil Government: One of the next things we longed for, and looked after was to advance Learning, and perpetuate it to Posterity, dreading to leave an illiterate ministry to the churches, when our present Ministers shall lie in the Dust (New England’s First Fruits, n.d. 1).

In the early years of our AU story, following the Civil War and on into the early days of the twentieth century, the nation had begun to move from its agricultural roots and was making many significant industrial and scientific discoveries. Cities grew large as people left the farms to take more urban jobs in factories and shops and government. These new opportunities called for new knowledge and skills—and new kinds of educational opportunities.

Pressure had grown for higher education to liberate itself from the religious constraints of its founding churches. Barry Callen describes those days of historic change in higher education:

It was argued that the mind of man must be unfettered, loosed to reason boldly and act even revolutionarily on behalf of human happiness. The industrial progress of the nation was developing a need for persons with specialized training not available in the usual liberal arts curriculum that characterized most church-related colleges. (1988, 5)

With specific regard to those AU founders in the Gospel Trumpet Company and their colleagues in the Church of God, Callen writes, “These changes caused many Christian people to distrust higher education and even to fear that cultivation of the mind might be dangerous to the life of faith and a direct threat to the health of the church” (1988, 4).

AU’s second president, Robert Reardon, arrived in Anderson in 1920 as a newborn when his father came to pastor Park Place Church of God, now on the western edge of campus across from Decker Hall. He grew up running around the campus and knew its founders well. He reflects upon the school’s early days and how within a few years of its start, its narrow Bible training focus expanded to include educational opportunities for more than ministerial students:

At perhaps the most critical moment in our movement’s history, when we could easily have turned rigid and cultish, [J.T. Wilson] ingrafted a small educational organism into the vitals of the Church of God reformation movement. . . .This college became the window open upon the world, a spawning ground for fresh ideas and young leaders, a safeguard against the narrow parochial mind, and a home where theologians, biblical scholars, and practitioners of other disciplines could contribute to the upbuilding of the church and its young people. (qtd. in Callen 1992, 56, emphasis added)

Although the Gospel Trumpet Company had for years offered professional training through correspondence courses like salesmanship, and its education department gave training for printers and editors, social workers, and healthcare providers in its homes for the aged, we should be clear in understanding that our university’s first real “college” programs were indeed narrowly focused upon Bible training and some related practical courses. But within just a few years, ABTS grew and attracted two new leaders with a much broader vision. They were moved to provide higher education to those God had gifted and called to professions far beyond pastoral ministry. They saw those “practitioners of other disciplines” whom Reardon spoke of as also important to God’s work in the world. These two men wanted these young people to be able to explore and expand their gifts and talents on the Anderson campus as well.

The Dream Team: John A. Morrison and George Russell Olt

In just its third year of operation ABTS had grown in numbers, both among students and its teaching faculty. The ending of World War I and the start of the “Roaring Twenties” was raising the nation’s sights to dream of bigger things. This was especially true among conservative people of Christian faith like those in that reformation movement known as the Church of God. As more young people across the church showed interest in the new school, the need for more professors able to teach a broader curriculum of courses became clear. But this movement of simple people with a general suspicion of higher education didn’t provide many ready candidates possessing academic training and credentials suitable for college teaching.

J.T. Wilson had himself attended college at two institutions in his native Pennsylvania prior to moving to Anderson to work for the Gospel Trumpet Company. The only full-time teacher on the first faculty, H.C. Clausen held a two-year diploma from Moody Bible Institute. Russell Byrum, an editor for the publishing company and a member of the firm’s School Committee that launched ABTS, along with his wife Bessie, also an early teacher at the school, were both widely read, but did not possess even high school diplomas. Most of the small faculty of five taught only part time while they continued their full-time assignments in the publishing company. They needed help from experienced, trained teachers as both enrollment and demand for new majors increased.

Through his editorial work for The Gospel Trumpet, Russell Byrum became aware of John A. Morrison, a 23-year-old pastor in Delta, Colorado, who had submitted several articles for publication in the paper. Byrum learned that Morrison had taught school in his native Missouri for several years before entering the ministry. With this small bit of inspiration, he convinced J.T. Wilson to recruit Morrison to join the faculty for the school’s third year in the fall of 1919. Wilson’s letter shows how desperate he was for help from anyone with teaching experience:

As you probably know I have been not only president of the Gospel Trumpet Co., but also chairman of the School committee and one of the teachers in the Bible Training School here. And now it seems [that one of our few teachers will] go on a missionary tour during the next year. If he does I must take over his duties as general manager which will make it necessary for me to turn over some of my duties to someone else. I am writing you therefore with the hope that you may be persuaded to relieve me of my duties as a teacher in the Bible School. The person who takes over this work should have some experience as a teacher and also as a minister and I am informed that you have both…Now of course I do not want to give you the impression that we are offering you the position before we know that you are qualified for it. But we are anxious that you write us at once. Let us know if you will accept a place of this kind. (Morrison 1962, 125)

At his young age, and with very little experience as either a teacher or a minister, Morrison was understandably surprised to receive such an invitation. He humbly accounts for his thoughts at receiving this invitation when he writes,

The low estate of education in our movement at the time . . . is attested to by the fact that one such as I would be invited to have a place in the one and only educational institution operated by the church. As I look back over the years, I cannot think of a single qualification I had to justify the idea. My formal education was almost nil. True, I had taught in public schools of Missouri for six years and for one year in West Virginia. But slight preparation was required for that. As a lad I went to the country school only a few months out of each year. I did finally graduate from the eighth grade. I never entered high school. I attended normal school a few terms in preparation for teaching. I took correspondence courses, but nothing of significance. Only in America, I suppose, could such a thing happen such as happened in my relationship to Anderson College. (Morrison 1962, 125)

Morrison arrived in Anderson with his young family in July of 1919. By the October start of school, he had studied and prepared himself as well as he could to teach whatever courses were needed. Within just a few years, he taught classes not only in Bible and preaching but also psychology and sociology and other more “professional” and academic subjects. He had also been named assistant principal to Wilson and assumed more administrative and promotional duties. As the enrollment of students slowly grew and as their individual skills and interests created demand for courses to prepare them for fields in addition to pastoral ministry, Morrison and his colleagues began to dream of a broader curriculum.

Morrison was soon called upon to lead in the fulfillment of that dream. J.T. Wilson’s days of heading the young school were about to come to an end. In the summer of 1923, after just six years of leading the Gospel Trumpet Company and ABTS, both institutions were struggling financially. The boards overseeing each institution encouraged Wilson to step away from his leadership roles. Morrison was named principal as the new school term began. Thankful for the opportunity but painfully aware that his limited formal training—no high school diploma and certainly no college degree—was not enough for the school and its graduates to be taken seriously within higher education, he began looking for a true academic leader within the church movement that had birthed ABTS. He soon found just such a colleague, already well-respected within the ranks of both academia and the Church of God movement.

In nearby Ohio, George Russell Olt was busy leading Wilmington College as both a teacher of psychology and philosophy and an academic dean. He did all this while also pastoring a Church of God congregation in Cincinnati on the weekends. AU professor emeritus Merle Strege writes of Morrison’s great need for such a partner to complement his own limited skills and experience:

John Morrison brought several gifts to the leadership of Anderson Bible Training School. He was courageous and possessed a deep commitment, almost a reverence, for formal education. . . . Morrison accepted his limitations and possessed the common sense not to pretend they didn’t exist. He knew the young school needed people who exceeded him in knowledge and academic experience. He accepted the task of persuading them to join the project he headed. In John Morrison’s long presidency, no decision was of greater significance than his selection of Russell Olt as the school’s first dean. (2016, 139)

Olt was a rarity among people in the church and its ministry at that time. He held three college degrees in professional and academic fields. His graduate degree in philosophical psychology was from the University of Cincinnati, one of those secular schools mistrusted by many of this reformation movement’s people. So, though he had found nurture for his growing faith within the holiness and unity message of the Church of God and had answered God’s calling to pastor a church in that movement, his personal gifts and interests had also led him to seek higher education and professional training in schools with broader academic programs. Yes, he and Morrison had great differences in backgrounds, but they shared a common dream of excellent Christ-centered higher education for all young people, regardless of their diverse talents and professional interests.

After many visits to Ohio and lots of correspondence, Morrison slowly convinced Olt to leave a great job with a well-established college to come and join his small team in Anderson. A transformation into a more comprehensive liberal arts school with diverse professional programs began to take shape. Strege writes, “While he recruited a dean, John Morrison simultaneously planned the separation of ABTS from the Gospel Trumpet Company” (2016, 42). Now, with its own state charter as an independent entity, yet still very much linked to its founding church movement, within a few years the school changed its name and the breadth of its educational opportunities and became known as Anderson College and Theological Seminary.

As you walk across campus today, you’ll see that our first student residence hall is named for John Morrison. And as you walk to the east from that residence hall and through the campus valley, you’ll soon come to our university student center named for Russell Olt. A statue of Morrison in front of Decker Hall welcomes all to campus. And a portrait of Olt near the student dining rooms reminds visitors of his legacy to build a comprehensive academic program with a strong faculty and great resources. We owe a great deal to the vision and tenacity of this dream team as well as the faculty and staff they called to join them.

Visionaries and Champions

As we observed earlier, professional training beyond coursework in pastoral ministry was in the school’s DNA even before its official launch in 1917. But the birth and growth of any new university program requires at least two things: a recognized need for trained professionals in a given field and then a campus champion to provide the vision and energy to start and grow the educational program to help meet it. AU has a wonderful history of leaders who were skilled at reading the needs of our world and of innovative faculty with the skills and inspiration to develop programs to meet those needs.

If you’ve spent much time exploring our campus you’ve learned that our largest campus building is named the Kardatzke Wellness Center. The first of many in the Kardatzke family to study here was Carl Kardatzke. He arrived shortly before Dean Russell Olt began to change the curriculum and offer “regular college courses” in a greater variety of professional fields. Kardatzke was a gifted scholar, avid reader, and wonderful communicator of what he learned—in other words, a natural-born teacher. Shortly following his 1927 graduation from ABTS, he was ordained into the ministry and briefly pastored several small churches during the start of the Great Depression. But his talents, heart, and true calling were in higher education. He soon answered that call and, while still pastoring, pursued graduate studies at the University of Kentucky, earning a PhD in education in 1933.

Upon returning to his alma mater, Kardatzke began to build AU’s first truly professional program, the preparation of teachers. Within just four years, the education program was certified by Indiana’s state board of education. Strege notes,

The appointment of Carl Kardatzke was a crucial stage in the evolution of [AU’s] teacher education program. . . . Neither Morrison nor Olt had in mind the idea of learning pursued solely for intrinsic reward. Rather, they believed a well-rounded education in the liberal arts opened the door to a variety of majors. Study in any could lead to a career, and careers wrapped in the mantle of service fitted readily with the ideal of utilitas on the new college seal.[1] (2016, 111)

But Kardatzke’s legacy in birthing professional programs at AU is not limited to teacher education. He also had deep interests in young people, family life, and those needing counseling and therapy. He authored two books and many study aids on human sexuality and healthy family relationships. So, in addition to his load of education courses, he also taught many of the first classes that grew into today’s professional programs in counseling, social work, family science, and psychology.

The Social Sciences and the Impact of Yet Another War

Another campus visionary and champion arrived as World War II was winding down. Dean Olt was relentless in his pursuit of recognized scholars to grow the reputation of Anderson College as he sought full accreditation of the school by the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. Strege writes of this time and this particular “champion” in this way:

In the wake of the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor, the North Central Association placed a moratorium on accreditation applications. . . . To achieve accreditation [following the war] the faculty had to grow, and its quality had to improve. North Central’s moratorium gave Dean Olt time to recruit professors critical to a successful application. In four years he enlarged the faculty and significantly increased the number of professors who held terminal degrees. . . . None brought stronger scholarship and greater teaching competence than Candace Stone. (2016, 134)

With multiple graduate degrees from prestigious universities and a wealth of experience in the U.S. and abroad as a researcher and teacher of history, political science, law, and international relations, perhaps Dr. Stone’s greatest impact came from her personal contacts. She knew former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt and brought her to campus. She also knew the 1940 Republican candidate for president, Wendell Willkie, as well as numerous other influential people in government, industry, and education. She connected students and her faculty colleagues in ways that enlarged everyone’s vision and inspired courageous new activities and programs. Anderson University’s current programs in history, political science, national security, and international studies are all built upon the foundations she laid.

From Secretarial Studies to the Falls School of Business

Throughout the early years of ABTS and Anderson College, the school consistently offered a limited curriculum in business or “commerce.” Most of these courses were in general economics to better understand the world in which we live or clerical skills, such as typing and shorthand. But with the end of World War II and the financial assistance available to veterans through the G.I. Bill, the demand grew for a deeper, broader program to prepare students for professional lives in the booming post-war business environment. Increased enrollment and the federal dollars that came with these war veterans allowed Morrison and Olt to recruit new faculty and develop a variety of new professional programs, including business studies.

That first faculty team from the school’s earliest days was quickly approaching retirement age. Dean Olt looked to AC’s brightest recent graduates and encouraged many of them to pursue graduate degrees in these fast-growing fields and then return and help build the next generation of faculty. Together they could expand the curriculum and add a growing list of professional programs to meet the needs of the post-war world.

One returning veteran on the G.I. Bill was R. Glenn Falls. During his teen years in his home church in Denver, Colorado, a number of AC alumni had passed through as preachers and evangelists. One such visitor was Carl Kardatzke’s younger brother Ewald, known to friends as “Mit.” While preaching in Denver, he encouraged Falls to pursue his further education in his church’s college in far-away Indiana. So, following his military service to his country during the war, he enrolled in 1946.

With his family running a small grocery store in Denver, Falls chose to major in business with thoughts of returning to take over the store as his parents retired. He did well in the few courses taught by the slim business faculty, but near the end of his senior year, he dropped by Dean Olt’s office and complained about the weak state of the business major. Olt challenged him to help improve it. So, with no guarantee of a teaching position when he finished, Falls enrolled in graduate studies at Indiana University. Over the next six years, he earned both a master’s and doctorate and passed the certified public accounting exams. He then returned to AC, where he joined Harold Linamen and Mary Lou Barr to teach business. Barr left a few years later, but Falls and Linamen—both committed Christian servants who saw teaching as their ministry—anchored the program, steadily building it to become one of the largest professional programs on campus.

As these two builders approached their own retirements in the 1980s they recruited several of their former students, such as current professors Doyle Lucas and Jerry Fox (the author of this essay), to do what they had done: begin graduate studies in business and return to help build a stronger program. Soon Dean Patrick Allen, the new academic leader of what was now called Anderson University (AU), challenged this new generation of business faculty to develop graduate programs in business at both the master’s and doctoral levels. Under the leadership of Ken Armstrong, the Business Department was renamed the Falls School of Business, and soon the program grew to serve one-fourth of AU’s student body, including some 250 MBA and 75 DBA graduate program students each year. The increased tuition income from these graduate programs enabled the business faculty to grow to more twenty-five full-time and adjunct professors, offering greater specialization and a diversity of voices for students in every business major within the school’s programs.

Is There a Doctor, or Nurse, in the House?

Early in the 1920s, Morrison and Olt saw the need to add the sciences to their curriculum if they ever hoped to gain both accreditation and respect within the broader academic community. Early graduates were not even given diplomas, and other colleges and universities did not accept their ABTS courses and credits when applying for entrance. By the early 1930s, with few science courses and barely adequate laboratories, the school catalog nonetheless listed a pre-med course of study.

Several early graduates completed studies in Bible along with this very slim pre-med sciences track and then went to medical school before serving as medical missionaries around the world. In fact, we now have a campus reminder of the legacy of one of those first medical missionary alums. As a creative way to settle his tuition bills for his pre-med studies, David Gaulke was offered the opportunity by President Morrison to complete a much needed campus improvement project. Today, as you walk north from the lower level of Decker Hall across the valley towards the Wilson Library building, you will cross a stone bridge. That is the Gaulke Bridge, a wonderful part of the “professional” training that helped to grow our medical sciences programs.

Once again, the growing enrollment and broader interests of returning veterans on the G.I. Bill created the need and opportunity for further growth in the sciences and the professions that they supported. In 1947 Marie Mayo graduated first in her class at Anderson College. Like Glenn Falls in business, she had taken all of the science courses AC offered and found them insufficient preparation for the needs and opportunities of post-war America. She enrolled in Tulane University’s graduate program and by the fall of 1950 was back on the Anderson campus to teach biology and anatomy, even as she pursued doctoral studies at Indiana University.

Merle Strege describes the critical role she played in birthing today’s professional programs in not only health care but scientific research and teaching. He states, “An anatomist, Mayo taught alongside her former [AC] teacher, Zylpha Hurlbut, professor of biology. . . . Mayo then assumed responsibility for advancing biology studies at AC almost single-handedly. She taught introductory biology as well as the advanced courses that prepared students for medical school” (2016, 191). Today the city of Anderson and the surrounding area is served by two local hospitals, Community and Ascension St. Vincent. A great number of both doctors and nurses—as well as technicians and business administrators—in these healthcare systems received their first training at Anderson University. In the post-war years, Ascension St. Vincent, then known as St. John’s Hospital, offered a nurses training program. But as greater faculty resources appeared across town at the institution then still known as Anderson College, they partnered with our campus to birth our nursing program, today headed by Lynn Schmidt and staffed by an amazing faculty. For the past two years, it has been recognized as the top nursing program in Indiana, and its graduates pass board exams at the highest rates among nursing programs in the state.

If You Build It, They Will Come

The Anderson University Undergraduate Catalog, 2021-22 highlights a newly organized department with some of the most recent professional programs on campus. The description of this department reads, “The Department of Physical Sciences and Engineering offers majors in biochemistry, chemistry, physics, physical science, electrical engineering, computer engineering, engineering physics, mechanical engineering, and mechatronics engineering. . . . Students gain broad scientific and engineering knowledge in the classroom while having opportunities to do significant research. Graduates often go on to medical and graduate programs, while others find careers as scientists and engineers” (2021, 164).

As with the birth of the professional programs we’ve already reviewed, these exciting contemporary opportunities came from faculty and campus leaders of vision and energy. Dr. Chad Wallace and Dr. Scott Kennedy each studied engineering as foundations in their graduate studies before joining the AU faculty. They and other colleagues examined the needs of our nation and world and, within AU’s mission of Christian service, designed these new programs and recruited a team of excellent faculty colleagues to join them. Like so many of our professional program faculty, this group stays on the cutting edge of their fields as consultants to engineering firms and multinational corporations, such as Google and its life sciences subsidiary, Verily. And who says that technical engineering studies can’t be fun? Under the leadership of this talented faculty, students have designed and built a solar-powered car, robots, and a remotely driven go-kart that has won awards in competitions against other excellent programs in universities across the country.

The “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval”

It’s easy for AU to say that its professional programs are among the best in higher education, but what do outsiders who really know these career fields have to say about them? Back in 1946, President Morrison and Dean Olt saw the fulfillment of one of their biggest dreams, full accreditation of Anderson College by the North Central Association. Today AU’s overall curriculum and degree programs are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. But what about the professional programs? Take a look at this list of secondary, higher-level professional groups that have granted accreditation to AU’s top career programs:

  •  Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)
  • Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
  • Commission on Accreditation of Athletic Training Education (CAATE)
  • Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP)
  • Council on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)
  • National Association of Schools of Music (NASM)

Writing Your Own AU Story—As Part of God’s Mega-Story

A lot of human history has been covered in these few pages—from God’s creation and redemption of the world in Christ to His work in and through the lives of Jesus’ early followers, all the way to D.S. Warner, J.T. Wilson, John Morrison, and Russell Olt, and even to some of your professors on the AU campus today.

Maybe the best way I can challenge you to personally seek God’s guidance as you now discover and develop your own talents is through the story of AU’s current president, John Pistole. His father, Hollis Pistole, a Church of God pastor, moved his family to Anderson when John was just a year old after accepting an invitation to teach in AU’s School of Theology. But as President Pistole began to write his own AU story, it was clear that, unlike his father, pastoral ministry did not fit his sense of his skills and personal interests. As a student, he prepared for law school and what he thought might be a prestigious and well-paying career.

However, it took only a short time working in an Anderson law firm for him to realize that he was not going to find fulfillment spending his life in that line of work. A friend had once suggested that the FBI needed lawyers, especially those with athleticism like Pistole, who had lettered in two varsity sports during his college days. Over the next two decades, his talents, his professional study and preparation, and his personal integrity as a follower of Christ made him stand out among his peers. He rose to the number two spot in the FBI as deputy director to Robert Mueller before President Barack Obama asked him to lead the Transportation Security Administration. Now he is your university president, bringing all of this experience and learning to lead your school and help you as you begin your own story of servant leadership, excellence, integrity, responsibility, and generosity.

President Pistole is just one of thousands of Anderson University graduates who today are writing their parts of God’s mega-story in our world. Soon you will join our ranks as you take your AU education and experiences to live out both parts of the Savior’s call to each of us. Do you remember Jesus’ answer when asked what should give purpose to our lives? According to Matthew 22: 37-40, Jesus replied, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (NIV). Consider President Pistole’s own words from the opening pages of this year’s university catalog:

This is where your college experience begins. Before you move onto the Anderson University campus, you plan a course for your first academic year. You sit down with one of our faculty advisors, and you start your story.

My own Anderson University story started in the 1970s. I came with a single focus—myself. What happened during the next four years transformed my life. My vision broadened as I aligned the focus of my life with God’s expectations for me: To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8 (NIV).

Each academic program offered in this catalog was designed by a remarkable group of faculty, who bring exceptional skills and knowledge to the classroom. Each course is a building block that fulfills our mission to educate students for lives of faith and service in the church and society. By choosing a liberal arts institution, you see value in developing not only as a professional but also as a person. Our faculty and staff are committed to mentoring you and sharing in those experiences with you as well, beginning friendships that will last long past graduation. (Anderson University Undergraduate Catalog, 2021-2022 2021, 3)

So, why so many strong professional programs at AU? It’s not because we believe our roots as a Bible training school have lost their importance. We still believe the truth that “the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Hebrews 4:12-13 [NIV]). That’s why we’ve kept study of the Bible as a component of every degree on campus. Since most of us will spend only a few hours a week in a church but most of the remainder of our waking hours in the workplace, shouldn’t we all “[a]lways be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15 [NIV])?

It’s time to write your own story in all of its uniqueness. With the guidance and power of God’s Holy Spirit in you, go and make it a great one.

  1. How is your Latin? The college seal, found on a large stone marker in front of Decker Hall and the wall outside the president’s office, includes the words veritas, fidelitas and utilitas. Google Translate will tell you these mean truth, fidelity and usefulness.


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Going Pro by Jerrald Fox is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book