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Division on Higher Education affirms church’s two-year colleges

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A UMNS photo by Vicki Brown

Bill Haden expresses support for two-year United Methodist colleges.
March 15, 2006

By Vicki Brown*

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) — A resolution expressing support for two-year residential United Methodist-related colleges and concern for entities that threaten their mission has been affirmed unanimously by the denomination’s education agency.

“We seek to support our member institutions and this affirms their importance to both the church and higher education in general,” said Bill Haden, vice chairman of the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s Division of Higher Education. The resolution was affirmed March 11 during the agency’s spring meeting.

The Rev. James Noseworthy, president of Hiwassee College, asked for the resolution.

“I am grateful for the continued support of the church for United Methodist two-year colleges,” he said. “We are a rare breed with a distinct mission related to historic United Methodist interests. It is critical that the public and the education community know the denomination’s commitment to these life-changing institutions.”

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The Rev. James Noseworthy

The United Methodist-related college in Madisonville, Tenn. is involved in a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia to keep its accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The two-year Hiwassee College sued after the association removed its accreditation because of concerns about the school’s financial resources — though the school has said it is financially sound. A federal judge ordered the association to maintain Hiwassee’s accreditation until the legal action is resolved. The discovery process for the lawsuit, which contends the action removing accreditation was unreasonable and violated procedure, was scheduled to conclude March 15.

The Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools is the accrediting body for institutions of higher education that award associate, baccalaureate, master’s or doctoral degrees in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

Noseworthy said the two-year church-related colleges have a mission to reach out to the underserved population and “give them an opportunity to follow their dreams for an education.” At Hiwassee, many of the students are the first generation in their family to attend college. He said the aim of the resolution was to remind the church and the public of the importance of such institutions.

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Thomas Yow III

The resolution notes that two-year, residential United Methodist-related colleges “often educate underserved, under-prepared, and under-resourced individuals.” It reaffirms the board’s belief in the continuing critical mission of the colleges and expresses concern regarding efforts by entities beyond the church that threaten those colleges. In addition, the resolution declares the board’s commitment to support these institutions in “their efforts to preserve their mission and combat external attempts that would threaten their mission or close these institutions. . . .”

Thomas Yow III, president of the United Methodist Higher Education Foundation, was president of Young-Harris College, a two-year, United Methodist-related college in Young Harris, Ga., for many years.

“The two-year colleges feel under pressure,” he said. “The public confuses the church-related colleges with public community colleges. Their whole emphasis on personalized, value-centered, quality education gets lost.”

*Brown is an associate editor and writer in the Office of Interpretation, United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry.

News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or

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