How Southeastern University Defied the Liberal World to Produce Christian Leaders

How Southeastern University Defied the Liberal World to Produce Christian Leaders

Higher education rarely makes headlines unless there's some kind of controversy. It's certainly not newsworthy to say that colleges across the nation are becoming more and more left-wing. But in response, a growing number of Christian colleges and universities across the country are growing and educating a new generation of Christian leaders. Southeastern University is one such place.

18 Minutes • 5 months ago

Episode Notes

The Strang Report

with Stephen Strang

with Kent Ingle

 

Higher education rarely makes headlines unless there's some kind of controversy. It's certainly not newsworthy to say that colleges across the nation are becoming more and more left-wing.

 

But in response, a growing number of Christian colleges and universities across the country are growing and educating a new generation of Christian leaders. Southeastern University is one such place.

 

Introduction

Stephen Strang: Higher Education is not something that is in the news very much, unless there's some kind of controversy. It's well known that higher education in our country is becoming more and more left wing. That is in the news. What isn't in the news is the fact that there is a Christian alternative. And, there are a number of Christian colleges, universities around the country that are growing and doing very well and educating a new generation of Christian leaders. One of these is Southeastern University, which we have reported on a number of times. But a lot of my listeners and readers probably don't know that Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida, is now the largest Pentecostal university in the world. I had the opportunity to visit recently, and to sit down with university president Kent Ingle, and to talk to him about this very special place.

 

Dr. Ingle, we're here at Southeastern University. You have been president now for eight years and seen phenomenal growth. Why do you think that's happened?

 

Facts About Southeastern University

 

·         Location: Lakeland, Florida

·         Campus enrollment: 4,000

·         Overall 2019 enrollment: 8,759

·         Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

·         Founded: 1935

·         Relocation to Florida: 1946

·         Affiliation: Assemblies of God

·         President: Dr. Kent Ingle

·         Academic Programs

 

 

Dr. Kent Ingle: I think first and foremost, we've been committed to our mission, number one, which is to come alongside a generation of students that we know God is raising up to serve the church, to serve Christ and to serve the world in their particular calling. I think our commitment of being a good steward of helping them discover their divine design, the way they're created, wired, how God wants to use them, has been significant. And as scripture always teaches, if you're a good steward of the gifts God gives you, He will bless you. We feel like every student that walks on our campus is a gift. So, we've taken time to make sure we're investing in their lives. I think God's favor has been upon us because we are intentionally doing that.

 

Stephen Strang: There are number of Christian colleges that would articulate their views and what they're accomplishing with similar terms. What has been the thing that's made Southeastern just really take off? As someone told me, it's the largest Pentecostal university in the world.

 

Dr. Kent Ingle: I believe that is so at this point. We've also had a commitment to providing education that's accessible and affordable. Accessible meaning creating … I used to be a former pastor and we use the term around a local church called assimilation. How do you get people into the door? Well, it's the same thing in higher education. How do you create accessibility to education so that you can create opportunity for people to grow in their life with education? So, we have approached that with the mindset that, and I use the phrase take scholarship to the streets, instead of expecting students to come to us, let's go to them in their communities in their location, and let’s provide need-oriented education where they are. So, we've had a strong commitment to doing just that. Almost five years ago now we started what we call unrestricted education and began to develop campuses nationwide. We had no campuses other than our Lakeland campus five years ago. Now we have 112 campuses nationwide where we provide educational resource, educational programs to those communities. And then the other thing that we've added to that is to make it very financially affordable. Those two issues alone have caused a great explosion of growth for our university.

 

Apply Online to SEU

 

Stephen Strang: Break down the numbers for me. You've mentioned all these campuses. How many students are being educated outside of Lakeland and how many here on your very beautiful campus in Lakeland?

 

Dr. Kent Ingle: On our main campus here, in Lakeland, we have probably about 4,000 students that attend the home campus. Then we have about 4,700 attending our extension campuses nationwide. Total, our enrollment this past fall again, we just celebrated our eighth straight record-breaking enrollment fall, 8,759 students. That's the breakdown. But again, when you think about it, almost five years ago, of that 4,700 students, we had zero. That kind of growth has been tremendous. Even on the campus here when I started as president here in 2010, we probably only had about 2,000 students. So you can see we've even grown on the main campus as well.

 

Stephen Strang: You have a lot of new programs. Is there one that you're particularly excited about?

 

Dr. Kent Ingle: That's like choosing your children. Is there one you like the best. We've had a lot of growth in sports and academics. For example, in sports, we've added eight collegiate teams, which has been significant, and we've invested scholarship-wise to grow those in such a way that they had been very successful. For example, we added football. They just celebrated their third straight conference title and have been in the national playoffs already. They're only what, four years old? So, things like that. But then also we've added academics. So, I would think our Health Science Center, where we've been able to add healthcare majors, specifically, nursing, has brought significant growth as well. So, it's been a combination. But one thing that I would say whether it's athletics or whether it is academics, it is always need-oriented. So, what would be the need out there, and how can we meet that need? We design or develop programs that will do just that. That's what has caused, I think, significant growth.

 

Stephen Strang: Let me bring up a topic this a little bit controversial, and that is the tendency of institutions of higher education to become liberal. Starting with Harvard, which was started as a seminary or started as a Christian college. In Central Florida, there's a college that used to be Baptist that is very left wing. How does Southeastern avoid that trend? It's a trend, in my opinion, that really all Christian institutions face.

 

Dr. Kent Ingle: It is absolutely our intentional effort to make sure that we are always committed to being Christ-centered in everything we do. That filters down to every aspect of our culture. So, when students come on this campus, there is no question we are able to create, cultivate design ways that will absolutely be committed to that Christ-centered value. We always want to make sure that we are welcoming anybody and everybody who wants to come to Southeastern University. But we always also make sure that if you come here, and that is a choice you make, you will understand that our value is all about being Christ-centered. When you understand and know that, and then we live that, that's what makes us stay strong in being that kind of a faith-based university that really does integrate faith and learning with life service.

 

Stephen Strang: I learned that under the Obama administration, there was actually a page on the website, I think they called it the page of shame or something. Why was Southeastern on that list?

 

Dr. Kent Ingle: First and foremost, it was shameless based on Title Nine exemption or title and and application which deals with our commitment to our faith that we are committed to the values that Christ teaches. In a lot of circles and at that point in higher education, that was not a value celebrated by that administration, per se. Most of our CCU schools or Christian universities across the country we're on that shame list. Really, when you boil down to it, it was because of our commitment to be a university that did integrate faith with our learning, which is really a fundamental value and a fundamental that we have as an American citizen … that we have the right to have choice of how we want to do life. If we want to choose to have a life that wants to integrate our educational experience with faith, that's something that is guaranteed to us. But it seemed like under the former administration, that was not something that was celebrated or valued.

 

Stephen Strang: It also included things like not having transgender bathrooms, and that type of thing.

 

Dr. Kent Ingle: That's part of the Title Nine exemption. So, in essence, I think the underlying reason was they would think that we were discriminating against those individuals, that we didn't value who they are, and their choice. But no, that's not true. They can make their own choice how they want to live their life. Really, that's between them and God. But if you want to come to our community, as a private, liberal arts, faith-based university, here's how we're going to do life. And we have the right to choose to do life that way. Like I said before, we welcome anybody that wants to come here, and we will accept you. But when you come here, we have what we call a community covenant. When you come in, and you're accepted to our university, there's a covenant that, you say, you know what, I'm going to join in and be a part of the way we do life together. And that's the Christ-centered way. We welcome all who choose that. That's a choice, a freedom that we have as a American citizen. So, I think that was a lot to do with those issues that we faced in the past administration.

 

For the rest of Steve’s interview with Dr. Kent Ingle, please visit cpnshows.com.

 

Where to Find Stephen Strang on the Internet

·         The Strang Report on Charismamag.com

·         The Strang Report on cpnshows.com

·         On Twitter

·         On Facebook

Episode Notes

The Strang Report

with Stephen Strang

with Kent Ingle

 

Higher education rarely makes headlines unless there's some kind of controversy. It's certainly not newsworthy to say that colleges across the nation are becoming more and more left-wing.

 

But in response, a growing number of Christian colleges and universities across the country are growing and educating a new generation of Christian leaders. Southeastern University is one such place.

 

Introduction

Stephen Strang: Higher Education is not something that is in the news very much, unless there's some kind of controversy. It's well known that higher education in our country is becoming more and more left wing. That is in the news. What isn't in the news is the fact that there is a Christian alternative. And, there are a number of Christian colleges, universities around the country that are growing and doing very well and educating a new generation of Christian leaders. One of these is Southeastern University, which we have reported on a number of times. But a lot of my listeners and readers probably don't know that Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida, is now the largest Pentecostal university in the world. I had the opportunity to visit recently, and to sit down with university president Kent Ingle, and to talk to him about this very special place.

 

Dr. Ingle, we're here at Southeastern University. You have been president now for eight years and seen phenomenal growth. Why do you think that's happened?

 

Facts About Southeastern University

 

·         Location: Lakeland, Florida

·         Campus enrollment: 4,000

·         Overall 2019 enrollment: 8,759

·         Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

·         Founded: 1935

·         Relocation to Florida: 1946

·         Affiliation: Assemblies of God

·         President: Dr. Kent Ingle

·         Academic Programs

 

 

Dr. Kent Ingle: I think first and foremost, we've been committed to our mission, number one, which is to come alongside a generation of students that we know God is raising up to serve the church, to serve Christ and to serve the world in their particular calling. I think our commitment of being a good steward of helping them discover their divine design, the way they're created, wired, how God wants to use them, has been significant. And as scripture always teaches, if you're a good steward of the gifts God gives you, He will bless you. We feel like every student that walks on our campus is a gift. So, we've taken time to make sure we're investing in their lives. I think God's favor has been upon us because we are intentionally doing that.

 

Stephen Strang: There are number of Christian colleges that would articulate their views and what they're accomplishing with similar terms. What has been the thing that's made Southeastern just really take off? As someone told me, it's the largest Pentecostal university in the world.

 

Dr. Kent Ingle: I believe that is so at this point. We've also had a commitment to providing education that's accessible and affordable. Accessible meaning creating … I used to be a former pastor and we use the term around a local church called assimilation. How do you get people into the door? Well, it's the same thing in higher education. How do you create accessibility to education so that you can create opportunity for people to grow in their life with education? So, we have approached that with the mindset that, and I use the phrase take scholarship to the streets, instead of expecting students to come to us, let's go to them in their communities in their location, and let’s provide need-oriented education where they are. So, we've had a strong commitment to doing just that. Almost five years ago now we started what we call unrestricted education and began to develop campuses nationwide. We had no campuses other than our Lakeland campus five years ago. Now we have 112 campuses nationwide where we provide educational resource, educational programs to those communities. And then the other thing that we've added to that is to make it very financially affordable. Those two issues alone have caused a great explosion of growth for our university.

 

Apply Online to SEU

 

Stephen Strang: Break down the numbers for me. You've mentioned all these campuses. How many students are being educated outside of Lakeland and how many here on your very beautiful campus in Lakeland?

 

Dr. Kent Ingle: On our main campus here, in Lakeland, we have probably about 4,000 students that attend the home campus. Then we have about 4,700 attending our extension campuses nationwide. Total, our enrollment this past fall again, we just celebrated our eighth straight record-breaking enrollment fall, 8,759 students. That's the breakdown. But again, when you think about it, almost five years ago, of that 4,700 students, we had zero. That kind of growth has been tremendous. Even on the campus here when I started as president here in 2010, we probably only had about 2,000 students. So you can see we've even grown on the main campus as well.

 

Stephen Strang: You have a lot of new programs. Is there one that you're particularly excited about?

 

Dr. Kent Ingle: That's like choosing your children. Is there one you like the best. We've had a lot of growth in sports and academics. For example, in sports, we've added eight collegiate teams, which has been significant, and we've invested scholarship-wise to grow those in such a way that they had been very successful. For example, we added football. They just celebrated their third straight conference title and have been in the national playoffs already. They're only what, four years old? So, things like that. But then also we've added academics. So, I would think our Health Science Center, where we've been able to add healthcare majors, specifically, nursing, has brought significant growth as well. So, it's been a combination. But one thing that I would say whether it's athletics or whether it is academics, it is always need-oriented. So, what would be the need out there, and how can we meet that need? We design or develop programs that will do just that. That's what has caused, I think, significant growth.

 

Stephen Strang: Let me bring up a topic this a little bit controversial, and that is the tendency of institutions of higher education to become liberal. Starting with Harvard, which was started as a seminary or started as a Christian college. In Central Florida, there's a college that used to be Baptist that is very left wing. How does Southeastern avoid that trend? It's a trend, in my opinion, that really all Christian institutions face.

 

Dr. Kent Ingle: It is absolutely our intentional effort to make sure that we are always committed to being Christ-centered in everything we do. That filters down to every aspect of our culture. So, when students come on this campus, there is no question we are able to create, cultivate design ways that will absolutely be committed to that Christ-centered value. We always want to make sure that we are welcoming anybody and everybody who wants to come to Southeastern University. But we always also make sure that if you come here, and that is a choice you make, you will understand that our value is all about being Christ-centered. When you understand and know that, and then we live that, that's what makes us stay strong in being that kind of a faith-based university that really does integrate faith and learning with life service.

 

Stephen Strang: I learned that under the Obama administration, there was actually a page on the website, I think they called it the page of shame or something. Why was Southeastern on that list?

 

Dr. Kent Ingle: First and foremost, it was shameless based on Title Nine exemption or title and and application which deals with our commitment to our faith that we are committed to the values that Christ teaches. In a lot of circles and at that point in higher education, that was not a value celebrated by that administration, per se. Most of our CCU schools or Christian universities across the country we're on that shame list. Really, when you boil down to it, it was because of our commitment to be a university that did integrate faith with our learning, which is really a fundamental value and a fundamental that we have as an American citizen … that we have the right to have choice of how we want to do life. If we want to choose to have a life that wants to integrate our educational experience with faith, that's something that is guaranteed to us. But it seemed like under the former administration, that was not something that was celebrated or valued.

 

Stephen Strang: It also included things like not having transgender bathrooms, and that type of thing.

 

Dr. Kent Ingle: That's part of the Title Nine exemption. So, in essence, I think the underlying reason was they would think that we were discriminating against those individuals, that we didn't value who they are, and their choice. But no, that's not true. They can make their own choice how they want to live their life. Really, that's between them and God. But if you want to come to our community, as a private, liberal arts, faith-based university, here's how we're going to do life. And we have the right to choose to do life that way. Like I said before, we welcome anybody that wants to come here, and we will accept you. But when you come here, we have what we call a community covenant. When you come in, and you're accepted to our university, there's a covenant that, you say, you know what, I'm going to join in and be a part of the way we do life together. And that's the Christ-centered way. We welcome all who choose that. That's a choice, a freedom that we have as a American citizen. So, I think that was a lot to do with those issues that we faced in the past administration.

 

For the rest of Steve’s interview with Dr. Kent Ingle, please visit cpnshows.com.

 

Where to Find Stephen Strang on the Internet

·         The Strang Report on Charismamag.com

·         The Strang Report on cpnshows.com

·         On Twitter

·         On Facebook

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How Southeastern University Defied the Liberal World to Produce Christian Leaders