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“Retaining the Legacy” of Messiah College

Ernest L. Boyer speaking at microphone
Ernest L. Boyer

Each year, I teach a course at Messiah College called Created and Called for Community. It’s a required course for all first-year (freshman) students, taken in their second semester, that introduces them to the unique theological identity of the school.

One of our readings in that class is Ernest L. Boyer’s “Retaining the Legacy of Messiah College,” originally delivered as a speech during college’s 75th anniversary in 1984.

In the piece, Boyer claims that Messiah has always been characterized by four “virtues”:

  • It has “sought to broaden education, not restrict it”;
  • It has “been not just a campus but a community as well” — meaning that its students, faculty, and staff have been united by a shared purpose and mission;
  • It has “been a place where dedicated teachers are also good and trusted friends”; and
  • It has “helped students seek connections between what they learn and how they live” — in other words, translating academic knowledge into an orientation toward service and reconciliation beyond the Ivory Tower.

When I teach this text to first-year students, I ask, “Do you think Boyer’s ‘virtues’ are still part of Messiah’s character today? Has your time at Messiah been marked by these virtues?” Invariably, they all tell me “yes.”Readers: Many of you are Messiah College alums; still others of you know the school through your friends, family, or through church connections. I’m curious: Do you see these “virtues” evident at Messiah College today? Share your thoughts in the comments section!