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The Value and Advantage of Christian College: Whole Person Development | President’s Blog

December 16, 2021

This is an exciting time for graduating high school seniors. The college decision-making process is in full swing. At Houghton, I take every opportunity to meet with prospective students and families. I love to tell them about the incredible things happening at Houghton, and I want to make myself available to answer any questions they have about the college’s mission, direction, and leadership.

As one might expect, prospective students and families often have important questions about majors and areas of academic study. These are important questions. Not only do prospective students and families want to know if we have their intended major, minor or concentration area, but they are interested in the quality of the programs, the experience and expertise of the faculty, and the success of programs’ graduates in the workforce and/or graduate and profession school. I am pleased to talk with prospective Houghton families about the breadth, depth and rigor of academic offering across many different areas at Houghton and to share with them how seriously we take academic excellence. The proof is the longstanding success of our graduates in diverse fields including health sciences, education, law, ministry, and the visual and performing arts.

Prospective students and families are also usually interested in what we do to nurture and develop students in areas outside of or alongside their major areas of study. What do we do to nurture and develop the whole person—spiritually, emotionally, socially and civically? And that, friends, is where the value proposition for Houghton and other Christian colleges becomes undeniably clear.

President Lewis meeting parents and students at move-in day
President Lewis meeting with parents and students at move-in day 2021.

Over the course of my career, I have had the opportunity to hire lots of people. While academic preparation and technical expertise is often central in a young professional obtaining a job, there are often other factors that lead to those same young professionals losing their jobs. Sometimes, a person loses a job due to lack of expertise in an evolving field, but often, dismissal or termination is related to moral/ethical failings or an inability to use what are often termed “soft skills,” now also called professional skills or professional competencies—skills and competencies like collaboration, teamwork, consistency, being trustworthy, positive, pleasant. While being positive and pleasant sound frivolous, I can assure you, most professionals do not want to go to work every day with someone who is rude, negative and unpleasant.

Bible study group praying

Rigorous academic preparation is essential for students’ professional success, but it is not nearly enough. For this reason, Houghton’s approach centers on building, supporting and equipping the whole person. Houghton graduates leave with tools and skills that will be essential for success in life: interpersonal and intrapersonal skills, working with and respecting people from diverse backgrounds and with diverse perspectives, being a good citizen, understanding what it means to be a good man, a good woman, a parent, a citizen.

Rigorous academic preparation is essential for students’ professional success, but it is not nearly enough. For this reason, Houghton’s approach centers on building, supporting and equipping the whole person.

Last but most important is our Christian identity. We worship together as a college community twice a week, but that is only one example of living out our faith in Christian community. We intentionally integrate our Christian faith into every aspect of the college experience; that means all of students’ coursework, speakers and campus guests, residence life, and athletic competition. That’s who we have been as a college from our founding, and we do it quite well.

Our purpose is preparing students to be the people God has called them to be. Their gifts, talents and uniqueness are God-given. Houghton endeavors to prepare and equip students to use those gifts for God’s glory in advancing His Kingdom (1 Corinthians 10:31).

We strive for excellence in all that we do, for the glory of God.


President Wayne D. Lewis Jr.

About the Author

With 20 years of experience in education, higher education leadership is a calling for Wayne D. Lewis, Jr., President of Houghton College. He is recognized as being a champion for students; focusing on improving educational access, opportunities and experiences for students, including those who have historically been underserved.

Read More about President Lewis