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Welch College Ranked in “A+ Schools for B Students” for the First Time in U.S. News & World Report’s Best Colleges Rankings

Welch College received notification that the institution was for the first time ranked among “A+ Schools for B Students,” along with only two other schools in its category, “Regional Colleges South”—High Point University and Ouachita Baptist University. Sixteen other schools nationwide in the “Regional Colleges” category received this designation.

This year Welch ranked 18th among “Regional Colleges South” in U.S. News & World Report’s 2021 edition of America’s Best Colleges rankings, according to Welch president Matt Pinson. The “Best Regional Colleges” category where Welch is ranked includes 350 institutions that focus on undergraduate education and offer a range of degree programs in the traditional liberal arts as well as in professional fields such as business, nursing, and education. Colleges in this category are ranked within four geographic regions: North, South, Midwest, and West.

U.S. News rankings offer opportunities to judge the relative quality of institutions based on widely-accepted indicators of excellence: peer assessment, graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, student selectivity, financial resources, alumni giving, and more.

“We are delighted about this high ranking in U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges, and especially excited about the new ‘A+ Schools for B Students’ ranking,” Pinson said. “It shows our quality to prospective students and their parents, as well as to alumni and supporters. It shows that academic excellence can coexist with a strong commitment to Christian faith and life as the center of the Welch College experience.”

“The first time Welch appeared in this ranking, back in 2010, we ranked 54th,” Pinson mentioned. “And even that was in the top half of all the Southern schools ranked in the Best Regional Colleges category. So in eleven years we’ve gone from 54th to our ranking of 18th for 2021. To put this in perspective, the next ten colleges in the list that Welch outranked had an average enrollment more than five times our enrollment and an average endowment almost nine times our endowment.”

Welch received especially high marks in five strategic areas. Compared to the other 121 institutions in the Regional Colleges South category, Welch ranked:

#2 in student-faculty ratio
#3 in students who were in the top 25% of their high school graduating class
#5 in the percentage of classes under 20 students
#5 in graduation rate
#8 in first-year student retention rate
#8 in alumni giving rate

Welch Provost Matthew McAffee said, “We’re excited to see Welch College perform so strongly in yet another U.S. News & World Report. We hope this measure will continue to show current and future students that Welch is committed to quality and excellence as a Christian institution of higher learning.”

More information is available about the rankings and methodology in the annual America’s Best Colleges guidebook at: www.usnews.com/collegemeth. For more information about Welch, email gotowelch@welch.edu or visit www.welch.edu.

President Pinson Completes Conference Call with Vice President Pence

Dear Welch Campus Family:

I just completed a conference call with Vice President Mike Pence; Dr. Deborah Birx, the Coronavirus Response Coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force; and many other college and university presidents. Others who took part in the discussion included Dr. Scott Atlas, President Trump’s new Coronavirus advisor; Dr. Robert Redfield, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); Governor Doug Burgum of North Dakota; and Dr. John Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame.

I am happy to tell you that, according to the recommendations these leaders reinforced on the call, we are doing very well on the Welch College campus, not only in the rate of people who have tested positively for the Coronavirus or are in quarantine, but also in following the best practices recommended by the White House and the CDC. This is because of the efforts you are making to follow Welch’s guidelines, and I cannot thank you enough!

One of the things they emphasized on the call, which they said many had not previously understood, is this: In addition to physical distancing and the wearing of face coverings, it is vital that as many as possible students be kept on campus whether they have symptoms or not, and it is important that colleges and universities do everything in their power to keep students as close to campus as possible. 

Having travel policies and other policies that make this a reality will keep down the incidence of the disease on campus, because students will not bring the disease back to campus from across the United States. However, such policies will also keep COVID-19 from going back into households and communities, thus mitigating the spread of the disease. Vice President Pence and Dr. Birx reiterated this over and over again.

They stressed the avoidance of what they called “crowding.” Avoiding crowding, maintaining a physical distance of six feet, and wearing a face covering are imperative. Also, they highly recommended that we encourage everyone to get a flu vaccine. 

The incidence of the Coronavirus among adults under 25 is on the rise. Even though the health risks are lesser for this population, the risk of this age group’s infecting people in the cross-generational population who are at greater risk is growing, they said. Dr. Birx reiterated repeatedly how important it is to understand that many young people who have no symptoms still have the disease and are passing it on to others.

So I want to congratulate you for doing the very best you can to continue to maintain six-foot physical distancing, to wear your face coverings, even when you are in the dorms and in other people’s rooms, to stay in the Gallatin area, and to fill out the form on the Ascend app each morning.

I also want to thank the Mr. Mahler, Coach Fawbush, and Dr. McAffee, as well as the members of the Special Committee on the Coronavirus, for having already put into effect a plan that precisely mirrors what we were advised on today’s conference call.

Thank you for all you are doing, Welch family! If we can keep this up, we feel confident we can make it to Thanksgiving!

The Lord bless you and keep you.

Sincerely,

Matt Pinson
President

Sumner Countians Graduate from Welch College

Eleven residents of Sumner County completed degree requirements at Welch College last month, according to Matthew McAffee, Provost at Welch. The college relocated from 73-year-old campus in midtown Nashville to Gallatin in the spring of 2017, constructing its new campus across the street from Station Camp High School.

“The residents of Sumner County have been so kind and welcoming—even to the point of enrolling themselves and their children,” McAffee said. “We’ve really been welcomed with open arms, and we’re so proud to be a part of this wonderful community and are excited to congratulate our local graduates.”

Welch, currently ranked 16th among Southern Regional Colleges in U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges, offers regionally accredited associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees. The roster of Sumner Countians includes:

Master’s Degrees
Rejyna Beck, Master of Arts in Teaching
Cassie Davenport, Master of Arts in Teaching

Bachelor’s Degrees
Jerushah Blackburn, Bachelor of Arts in English
Josh Burgus, Bachelor of Science in Music w/ Performance Emphasis
Brenton Driscoll, Bachelor of Science in General Christian Ministry
Deborah Driscoll, Bachelor of Arts in English
Allison Pogue, Bachelor of Science in History
Craig Pope, Bachelor of Arts in English
Noni Wright, Bachelor of Science in Business

Associate’s Degrees
Tanner Carson, Associate of Science in Business
Angelina Waller, Associate of Science in Biology

Welch president Matt Pinson said, “I want to congratulate these residents of Sumner County upon the completion of their degrees. This is evidence that we’ve settled into our new community, and we love it!”

Welch College is proud of its Sumner community and its Sumner county graduates. Please join us in congratulating these graduates.

For more information on Welch, its degree offerings, or its scholarships, email recruit@welch.edu.

Welch College Announces Augmented Athletic Schedule

Welch College has announced an adjustment to the athletic department for 2020-2021, according to Greg Fawbush, Welch Athletic Director. “College athletics has been deeply affected by COVID-19,” Fawbush said, “and Welch is having to make changes to accommodate the global pandemic.”

Among the changes Fawbush outlined, women’s volleyball will play a hybrid season, eleven games in the fall starting September 28 and ending November 7, followed by ten more games during March and April of 2021, for a total of twenty-one matches over the course of the year. Men’s and women’s soccer will play in the spring of 2021 for this season only. Cross country’s schedule will remain in the fall. Fawbush stated that he expects men’s and women’s basketball teams to play their games starting in November and ending in late February.

Fawbush said, “Several factors contributed to these difficult decisions, including the recent rise in positive COVID-19 cases through the south’s geographical footprint, the safety of student-athletes, and the inability to maintain a full schedule due to cancellations.” He went on to add, “By carefully realigning when our teams play, we can better realize our overall goal of keeping our athletes healthy while also still participating in athletic competition.”

For more information on athletics at Welch, email Coach Fawbush at gfawbush@welch.edu.

Welch College Strong and Courageous Event Becomes Virtual–LifePoint Healthcare David Dill, Speaker

The annual Welch College Strong and Courageous event originally scheduled for August 18is going virtual. Welch president Matthew Pinson announced the change in plans today.

“It was our hope that COVID-19 pandemic would be dissipating by late summer, but it has not done so,” Pinson said. “As a result, to protect our sponsors and participants, the event will be professionally filmed in segments and released later in the fall.”

All aspects of the event will remain, including entertainment, a keynote address by LifePoint president David Dill, a student address, special recognition of event sponsors, and the awarding of the 2020 Strong and Courageous award.

Dr. Charles Lea, Special Assistant to the President, said, “We are making every effort for this event to continue its tradition of excellence as we highlight the impact of Christian faith in our nation and community.” As the release date of the event is finalized, event sponsors will be encouraged to invite their guests to a preview showing of the event.

Now in its third year, Strong and Courageous provides valuable scholarship support for Sumner County students who desire a Christian worldview education at one of U.S. News and World Report‘s “best regional colleges” in the South.  As Welch nears its fall opening, it remains committed to academic excellence and face-to face instruction.

For more information about this event, contact Derek Altom at daltom@welch.edu.

Letter to Class of 2020 about Cancelling Commencement

Dear Member of the Welch College Class of 2020:

It is with a heavy heart that I write and tell you that we are forced to cancel our planned Commencement ceremony for the class of 2020. Earlier this year, before the second wave of COVID-19 that swept the country, we had every expectation that we could provide a safe, physically distanced Commencement ceremony for you and your family. However, with recent developments, it has become impossible for us to go through with those plans.

Our reasons for cancelling the ceremony include, but aren’t limited to, the fact that the Governor of the State of Tennessee has issued an order that keeps us from having indoor gatherings on campus of more than 50 people. This means that we couldn’t even accommodate the Class of 2020 and the administration of the college in the ceremony. Thus none of your family could attend, which defeats the entire purpose of having a special ceremony. We deemed it far too risky to host an outdoor ceremony, only for you and your guests to travel here and it rain that day, with no ability to move the ceremony indoors. Furthermore, many of the states from which our graduates would have been traveling have orders that require lengthy quarantining after returning from Tennessee.

Many other considerations went into the difficult decision to cancel this special ceremony we had hoped and planned to have for you. I want you to know how deeply we regret that we could not follow through with our plans.  You mean so much to us, and we celebrate with you upon the occasion of your graduation from Welch College. We will be shipping your diploma and (where applicable) your cap and gown.

We look forward to great things from you as you serve Christ, His church, and His world. We hope you will keep in touch with us and come back to visit your alma mater very soon.

Sincerely,

J. Matthew Pinson
President

Coffman Hall on Welch College Campus - a Christian Bible College in Gallatin, Tennessee

Welch Announces Special Fall Commencement

Welch College has scheduled a special Commencement ceremony to be held during the Fall 2020 semester on Saturday, September 19, according to Provost Matthew McAffee. Owing to the Coronavirus pandemic, the college was unable to hold its May Commencement exercises for the 2019–20 academic year. A virtual awards ceremony was held directly following the spring semester to honor 2020 graduates publicly, as well as outstanding continuing students.

The focus of this special commencement ceremony will be the conferral of degrees. “Our 2019–20 graduates have worked hard against unprecedented odds to complete the requirements for their degrees,” McAffee said. “We look forward to being able to award these degrees to a special group of graduates in the history of Welch College.”

In addition to conferring degrees, the special ceremony will also include the hooding of graduates receiving one of Welch’s two master’s degrees (Master of Arts in Theology and Ministry and Master of Arts in Teaching). The first group of Master of Arts in Teaching recipients will have completed their program in time to participate in the special ceremony. The graduate hooding ceremony is usually held as a separate event but will be combined with the main ceremony for the convenience of graduates and guests traveling longer distances to attend.

The Saturday Commencement ceremony will also coincide with the spring 2020 musical, which was canceled because of COVID-19 concerns. Three showings are tentatively scheduled: Friday evening (September 18), Saturday evening (September 19), and Sunday matinee (September 20).

More details regarding the logistics of these events are forthcoming. In light of the Coronavirus pandemic, college officials are continuing to monitor federal and state recommendations for public gatherings and will make adjustments to these plans as necessary.

For more information, visit Welch.edu or email COVID-19@welch.edu.

Religious Liberty and the Supreme Court’s Bostock Decision

Today the Supreme Court of the United States voted in a 6–3 ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects homosexual and transgender individuals from discrimination in the workplace. “An employer who fires an individual merely for being gay or transgender defies the law,” the decision read.*

This is a reinterpretation of the language from the 1964 law that made it illegal to discriminate against people in the workplace on the basis of “sex,” which at that time meant whether one was a biological male or a biological female. In other words, an employer could not refuse to hire, or fire, a woman in favor of a man, because she was a woman. Nor could an employer discriminate between men and women in terms of pay or any other treatment in the workplace.

The word “sex” has evolved to include homosexuality and transgenderism. Six of the nine Supreme Court justices have now redefined the word, thus making the law say something different from what the law’s framers meant by it, and what its interpreters have thought it to mean over the past fifty-six years.

This redefinition is troublesome on two fronts. First, obviously, it represents a mammoth shift in the way the morality of homosexuality is thought of in our culture, and this shift must be of concern to traditional religious people who intend to continue to view homosexuality and transgenderism the way they always have (more on this below).

Second, it has enormous implications for the way law is interpreted and decided in our time. The normal way of changing laws in our system of government is to enact legislation or to have a constitutional amendment. It appears that these are no longer necessary. Rather than write new legislation changing the wording of the Civil Rights Act specifically to include LGBT individuals (as the “Equality Act,” which cannot get enough votes to pass, would essentially do), or have a constitutional amendment giving LGBT individuals these rights (such as the the Fifteenth Amendment, which gave black men the right to vote, or the Nineteenth Amendment, which gave women the right to vote), the Court simply has to redefine one word in the 1964 legislation to make it mean something different from what it was intended by its framers and how it has been interpreted for fifty-six years.

As Justice Samuel Alito said in his dissenting opinion, “. . . our duty is to interpret statutory terms to ‘mean what they conveyed to reasonable people at the time they were written.’ (A. Scalia & B. Garner, Reading Law: The Interpretation of Legal Texts 16 [2012] [emphasis added]). If every single living American had been surveyed in 1964, it would have been hard to find any who thought that discrimination because of sex meant discrimination because of sexual orientation––not to mention gender identity, a concept that was essentially unknown at the time.”

There will never be another amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Because of the new, arbitrary modus operandi of the judicial branch of the federal government, amendments are no longer needed. A constitutional amendment could never have passed—nor could congressional legislation—in the cases of Roe v. Wade, which made abortion legal in all fifty states, Obergefell v. Hodges, which made homosexual marriage legal in all fifty states, or the Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, decision handed down today.

Bostock v Clayton County Georgia Case

The Bostock case represents another instance of the gradual evolution away from the American system of government enshrined in the U.S. Constitution toward a new system of legislation by the judiciary. And even justices John Roberts and Neil Gorsuch, whom some have described as “originalists” (interpreting the Constitution according to the original intent of its framers), are operating, in this case, according to the same mode of more-liberal justices in the other above-mentioned cases.

Justice Alito said in his dissenting opinion, “Usurping the constitutional authority of the other branches, the Court has essentially taken H. R. 5’s [the “Equality Act” passed by the U.S. House of Representatives but stalled in the Senate] provision on employment discrimination and issued it under the guise of statutory interpretation. A more brazen abuse of our authority to interpret statutes is hard to recall.”

He went on to say: “Many will applaud today’s decision because they agree on policy grounds with the Court’s updating of Title VII. But the question in these cases is not whether discrimination because of sexual orientation or gender identity should be outlawed. The question is whether Congress did that in 1964. It indisputably did not.”

This decision could further erode religious institutions’ First Amendment right to the free exercise of their religion. As you will see below, there is ambiguity in what the ruling says about protection for religious institutions whose beliefs prohibit them from employing LGBT individuals. Allow me to share some lengthy excerpts from the majority opinion authored by Justice Neil Gorsuch that concern religious liberty:

“Separately, the employers fear that complying with Title VII’s requirement in cases like ours may require some employers to violate their religious convictions. We are also deeply concerned with preserving the promise of the free exercise of religion enshrined in our Constitution; that guarantee lies at the heart of our pluralistic society.”

“But worries about how Title VII may intersect with religious liberties are nothing new; they even predate the statute’s passage. As a result of its deliberations in adopting the law, Congress included an express statutory exception for religious organizations. This Court has also recognized that the First Amendment can bar the application of employment discrimination laws ‘to claims concerning the employment relationship between a religious institution and its ministers.’ (Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC).”

“And Congress has gone a step further yet in the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA). That statute prohibits the federal government from substantially burdening a person’s exercise of religion unless it demonstrates that doing so both furthers a compelling governmental interest and represents the least restrictive means of furthering that interest. . . . Because RFRA operates as a kind of super statute, displacing the normal operation of other federal laws, it might supersede Title VII’s commands in appropriate cases.”

“But how these doctrines protecting religious liberty interact with Title VII are questions for future cases too. Harris Funeral Homes did unsuccessfully pursue a RFRA-based defense in the proceedings below. In its certiorari petition, however, the company declined to seek review of that adverse decision, and no other religious liberty claim is now before us. So while other employers in other cases may raise free exercise arguments that merit careful consideration, none of the employers before us today represent in this Court that compliance with Title VII will infringe their own religious liberties in any way.”

The ambiguities in the above language should be of concern to traditional religious people and their institutions—e.g., RFRA “might supersede Title VII’s commands in appropriate cases” (italics added) and “. . . how these doctrines protecting religious liberty interact with Title VII are questions for future cases. . . .”

Justice Alito points this out in his dissent that “the position that the Court now adopts will threaten freedom of religion, freedom of speech, and personal privacy and safety. No one should think that the Court’s decision represents an unalloyed victory for individual liberty.” I will quote Justice Alito at length, since his statements encapsulate the concern that traditional religious people and organizations have expressed on how this will affect religious liberty:

“Briefs filed by a wide range of religious groups––Christian, Jewish, and Muslim––express deep concern that the position now adopted by the Court ‘will trigger open conflict with faith-based employment practices of numerous churches, synagogues, mosques, and other religious institutions.’ They argue that ‘[r]eligious organizations need employees who actually live the faith,’ and that compelling a religious organization to employ individuals whose conduct flouts the tenets of the organization’s faith forces the group to communicate an objectionable message.”

“This problem is perhaps most acute when it comes to the employment of teachers. A school’s standards for its faculty ‘communicate a particular way of life to its students,’ and a ‘violation by the faculty of those precepts’ may undermine the school’s ‘moral teaching.’ Thus, if a religious school teaches that sex outside marriage and sex reassignment procedures are immoral, the message may be lost if the school employs a teacher who is in a same-sex relationship or has undergone or is undergoing sex reassignment. Yet today’s decision may lead to Title VII claims by such teachers and applicants for employment.”

“At least some teachers and applicants for teaching positions may be blocked from recovering on such claims by the “ministerial exception” recognized in Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC. Two cases now pending before the Court present the question whether teachers who provide religious instruction can be considered to be ‘ministers.’ But even if teachers with those responsibilities qualify, what about other very visible school employees who may not qualify for the ministerial exception? Provisions of Title VII provide exemptions for certain religious organizations and schools ‘with respect to the employment of individuals of a particular religion to perform work connected with the carrying on’ of the ‘activities’ of the organization or school, but the scope of these provisions is disputed, and as interpreted by some lower courts, they provide only narrow protection.”

So what should conservative religious people do in response to this threat Justice Alito discusses? First, we should pray for justices at all levels of the judicial system to be appointed who will uphold the liberty of religious institutions to have hiring and admissions and free association policies consistent with the First Amendment. There are some judges who will want both LGBT people and religious people to have liberty. Thus we can pray that justices such as Roberts and Gorsuch, who ostensibly do not follow the originalism of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, will make common cause with originalist justices such as Alito and Thomas—common cause for the protection of that “first freedom” of religious liberty.

Second, we must continue to be active in the public square and must, in the many ways available to us, work toward that for which we pray—voting, writing letters to public officials, and advocating for religious liberty, but in a way that is charitable, compassionate, sensitive, winsome, and intelligent.

Third, we must, more than ever, prayerfully and financially support religious institutions that are committed to maintaining fidelity to their religious beliefs in the face of public pressure to modify those beliefs. Nothing has changed for these institutions, such as Welch College, which have always humbly followed their sincere religious beliefs on sexuality and gender and a host of other issues and will continue to do so regardless of the pressure exerted on them to abandon those beliefs.

Most of all, we must maintain our focus on Christ and the gospel of the kingdom, which is transforming our minds and affections and the way we live our lives, allowing that transformative effect to spill out into the lives of our families, churches, communities, and cultures. And we must rest confident that through His ordinary means of grace, our Lord will build His church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.

*All quotations from the Supreme Court majority opinion and Justice Alito’s dissent are from the ruling itself, which can be found at https://www.supremeCourt.gov/opinions/19pdf/17-1618_hfci.pdf. In-text citations removed.

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