This is a transcript of questions and answers that I wasn’t able to address (due to time constraints) during the recent Town Hall meetings with students at Calvary University. I loved the opportunity to do this, and look forward to doing the Town Hall every semester. Thank you all for your communication – I appreciate it more than you know!
Q: When it comes to not raising tuition and using other means to keep tuition down, how does that affect staff/faculty financially?
A: I am so glad you asked this, because it gives me a chance to brag about our staff and faculty. Each one is vastly underpaid for the jobs they do, and each one of them could instantly have a higher paying job elsewhere. They know what they have signed up for, and their commitment to serving the Lord by serving you is one of the most beautiful things I see everyday at Calvary. We are working very hard to see Calvary arrive at a place where staff and faculty can be more fairly compensated, but in the meantime, please remember to pray for them and show them your gratitude, as their service to you is truly a labor of love. The greatest reason your tuition is not going up is because of their sacrifice.
Q: Dr. Cone, you maintain policies of transparency and receptiveness towards communication from students/faculty. But we rarely see you on campus, at our events, and often you are unavailable. How will you be more present and receptive to our needs here on campus?
A: This is an excellent question. As you might guess, the job of president is complex, with responsibilities that include leadership at every level, service at every level, a tremendous amount of travel, and at the same time being able to develop relationships with you all and make personal investments in the students at CU. My favorite part of serving at CU is spending time with students (and I actually do that almost every day when I am on campus), but unfortunately my responsibilities demand that I am so involved in so many areas that sometimes I simply don’t get to do what I like best. Ultimately, my job is to facilitate the mission of Calvary, which means I must work hard so that our faculty and staff have the ability, time, and resources to pour into you and serve you. That is the primary way I serve you. So I would ask you to change your expectations of me. I am not able to function as your youth pastor or your parent, instead I am tasked with the responsibility of ensuring you get the most Biblical, highest quality preparation while you are at CU. The best way I can be receptive to your needs is by ensuring that CU is faithful to its mission and can fulfill that in a sustainable way.
As CU continues to grow, it is actually more likely that you will see less of me rather than more. Despite that reality, I always welcome your communication and make myself available anytime. My door is literally always open when I am on campus, and even when I am not physically on campus, we can communicate in a number of ways. We can set an appointment, so that I can prioritize spending time with you individually or as a group. I don’t get to nearly as many events as I would like, and that’s just the reality of the position and the responsibilities. My job is to make sure you have the tools and resources to have the events, and sometimes that means I don’t get to share in them. I hate that, but that is what I signed up for.
While it is true that I am very, very hard at work trying to fulfill those responsibilities toward you, I am never too busy to hear you, and I am always happy to sit down with you. My schedule, responsibilities, and travel simply means that you and I have to be more deliberate about all that.
Q: Shouldn’t it be us who have to be accountable? Being accountable is a choice but right now it’s not setting us up for the real world.
A: Excellent question. It is especially wise to realize that accountability is a part of everyday life, and you are already making yourself accountable by coming to Calvary and agreeing to follow the guidelines of the Calvary community. So it is actually excellent preparation for the real world.
Q: Part of being an adult is being able to agree to disagree agreeably.
A: This is an important observation. Rather than be part of a culture that censors ideas, we want to provide an environment where you get to wrestle with issues in a safe laboratory setting. Sometimes that will mean hearing ideas that are contrary to your own. Especially in those instances it is very important to maintain love, respect, and kindness. But you said it better and more concisely than I could have.
Q: Once upon a time we invited an atheist [as part of the Counterpoint Series]. Though controversial, it was good to see the other side of the coin. Can we do that again? Or even with other faiths? We need to know what our opposition believes.
A: Yes. This is exactly what the Counterpoint Series is all about. Once per semester, ideally, we bring in someone who has a very different perspective, and then that person and I have a discussion that has two purposes. The first purpose is to model gracious dialogue even in disagreement. The second purpose is to help students, staff, and faculty understand the basis behind the disagreements. Stay tuned, there is one scheduled soon…
Q: There is a lot of talk about programs, buildings, resources, etc., that Calvary is pouring into. In what ways is Calvary using the blessings God has given to invest in personnel on staff and faculty? In counseling we would call it self care.
A: Another excellent question. This is an area we are always trying to improve. In the past year and a half, many staff and faculty have received new job descriptions, which help highlight particular areas of responsibility. We are trying to be more transparent about what those responsibilities are, so that we can provide better training and resources for those serving at Calvary. There is a commitment to ongoing professional development, including helping staff and faculty to pay their continuing education expenses. One example of this is Calvary’s tuition benefit for employees. Another example is covering costs for conferences and training, even when it requires travel. We have a long way to go to provide staff and faculty all of the resources that would be beneficial to them, but we are committed to continuous improvement, and that is reflected in our strategic planning and our budgeting. Our faculty and staff are fantastic, and a very worthy investment!
Q: Calvary didn’t acknowledge MLK Day except to close for the day. Why wasn’t there a reference or article on the website and what could we be doing as a Christian University to reach out to all races and cultures?
A: Fantastic question. First, there are many holidays throughout the year, and Calvary doesn’t officially do much to acknowledge any of them except Christmas and Thanksgiving. We should probably do a better job at that. As far as CU’s commitment to diversity and serving a broad representation of cultures and ethnicities, Calvary’s staff and faculty have the highest level of diversity in the school’s history. We are also working very hard to show a biblical approach to inclusion for people of all cultures and ethnicities who are at Calvary. Still, we can do more. We have recently added an international students director, the beginnings of a department completely focused on serving and reaching out to students and prospective students of all ethnicities and cultures. Calvary is a fantastic melting pot, and I hope that is evident in who we bring to Calvary, how we interact, the songs we sing, and the ministry we engage in.
Q: With an increasing number of non-students wandering onto campus, is there an active effort to increase security and ensure student safety?
A: Your question is a timely one, because while we have sought to make CU a safe place for all of you, that gets harder and harder to do. I am so thankful for Glenn Williams, Director of Security at CU, and for his entire security team. They work very hard, sometimes behind the scenes, and sometimes right in front of the scenes, in order to keep the campus safe. Mr. Williams trains his staff very well to be alert and attentive, and to respond resolutely anytime something is not right. Mr. Williams also stays very current on challenges facing other campuses and on strategies to maintain safety. He is faithful to recommend solutions and to implement them very well. As our campus grows, so do our security needs, and we try to make those strategies and solutions as un-intrusive as possible. I am sure that Mr. Williams would love for you to reach out to him and to discuss some of the technology and resources in place as well as how you can help keep yourselves and others safe. You play an important role in this too.
Q: Is there a priority in improving life in the dorms? Like housekeeping and other things, it would be nice to have the trash taken out every day. It shows that people actually care for the students.
A: This is a difficult issue. Of course we care for each one of you, and at the same time, you and I share a responsibility in campus cleanliness. The more services we provide, the higher the cost of education. We carefully try to manage those costs so that tuition does not increase, and that means sometimes not having the luxury services we might all enjoy. We are very thankful for our maintenance department, led by Doug Driskell. Their diligence is exemplary, and they work very hard in many areas of the campus to keep things neat, orderly, and functioning well. They spend quite a lot of effort serving you in the dorms, but like all of us, they have limited resources and time.
Q: So more plans for the Colorado campus and not here? Is this pushing for a university-wide move to Colorado?
A: Not at all on either count. We believe that God provided the opportunities in Colorado to supplement what He has provided for us in KC. We want to be faithful with both of those locations and any other locations that God provides in the future. The multi-site model is a very important piece of CU’s long-term strategic plan, and for that to work, we must have a very strong central location in Kansas City. Other locations like our Innovation Center in Colorado will help to fuel what’s happening in KC, and when we are doing things well in Kansas City, it helps us be better in every other location.
Q: Can we refurbish the lounge at the 2nd floor East Ed and make it more student-friendly so that not only couples hang out there, but other students to do homework as well?
A: Thank you for the recommendation. We are currently assessing East Ed as one of our top
priorities for campus development. Stay tuned as we hope to solidify some things soon. We will keep you posted on this.
Q: If and when tuition is raised, will more scholarships become available?
A: We are committed to not raising tuition, even though cost of education continues to increase. Close to sixty percent of your educational costs are paid for through the generosity of alumni and donors. We are working very hard to also develop auxiliary streams of revenue so we can continue to keep tuition as it is. We have not had a tuition increase in over three years and are committed to extending that. Think of it as an “x amount of days without an accident” sign. As God provides, we will keep seeing those days increasing. We are committed to not raising tuition, and we are also being very diligent to expand and create new scholarships. Ultimately, our focus is in reducing your overall cost of education, even while the marketplace dictates that education costs are increasing. Impossible task you say? Of course it is, but for three years, God has provided for exactly that, and our Colorado efforts will be instrumental in helping to extend that.
Q: With all these plans not expecting to come to fruition for 3+ years, what are students, who won’t be around to see these come to fruition, do with the information given about the future of Calvary?
A: Actually, many of these plans are coming to fruition already. Not sure where your number of 3+ years is coming from. It is mainly the large building projects that will take longer. We would ask for you to be praying for Calvary and even consider supporting financially when you graduate. Even three or four dollars a month makes a big difference. God has blessed you with many opportunities and resources at Calvary today, and you are benefitting today from those who came before you. I hope you will consider helping the next generation when you move on to the next stage of life.
Q: How is Ft. Morgan a true extension of college life in Kansas City? How can you ask students and faculty to move to CO when KC has more opportunities and a better college and city experience than Ft. Morgan?
A: Very interesting question. Actually, the Innovation Center is not an extension of campus life in KC, it is its own culture and provides its own growth and ministry opportunities. Ultimately, we haven’t sent students, staff, or faculty there. Those who have relocated have done so because they have sensed that is where God would have them for the next chapter. Fort Morgan has a very diverse community with a remarkable blend of cultures. It is less than an hour away from the Denver metro area and provides many unique opportunities as well. One of the advantages to having locations in both areas is that students, staff, and faculty can choose which area they prefer.
Q: What housekeeping services are provided for Philly Hall?
A: This is an excellent question for Randy Grimm. Randy serves faithfully as our Chief Operating Officer, and overseeing the maintenance of CU facilities is one of his areas of responsibility. He has the very difficult task of balancing the services needed with the resources available to provide those services. Randy is always happy to talk to students, and your feedback on how we are doing overall is very valuable.
Q: Can we have more buildings and classrooms look like the CABRE? It’s honestly a beautiful building.
A: So glad you like the CABRE! It is our most recently remodeled building on campus. Project from start to finish took nearly a year and we can’t do too many of those all at the same time. We do have plans for some renovations, but are waiting to finalize funding before we formally announce them. Stay tuned. One project you may have already noticed is the parking lot repairs. The repairs are underway but had to pause for the cold weather. When it warms up that project will resume and give CU a whole new look.
Q: How are we modifying 8 week courses so that they are ideal for learning rather than just cramming 16 weeks of course assignments in half the time? Sometimes the amount of work seems counterproductive to long term learning. Thoughts?
A: Therein lies the trick; our professors are working not to modify courses, but to build new courses designed for the 8-week format. And yes, it is absolutely 16 weeks worth of work in an 8-week period. It is condensed so that students can choose to accelerate their learning and progress if they like. Whether a class is 16 weeks or 8 weeks, the work load is determined by a measure called a Carnegie unit. Professors build their courses according to standards for the appropriate number of hours. The challenge arises when courses are modified rather than tailor-made for the format in which they are offered. Sometimes that is necessary in the short-term, but that is not ultimately what we are after. This system allows you to take the same number of hours, focusing on fewer classes at a time, so that you can learn the material better before moving on to the next class. Before, a full time student would take at least four classes at a time. Now, you can carry the same load and only take two classes at a time. The difference is now, if you are ambitious, you can move more quickly and it is easier to do so because you are more focused on fewer classes. While in a sense it is six of one and half a dozen of another, it is simply a way to give you more freedom, more choice, and more on ramps for classes.
Q: Where can we give feedback? Is there an avenue set up for us?
A: There are lots of avenues for you. You can communicate with your professors, RAs, deans, other school leaders, faculty leadership representatives, and you can always communicate with me. If you have feedback to give, the best thing you can do is simply to give it. There are some formal avenues for that (like student satisfaction surveys), but your informal communication is also very important to us. If you have ideas for how you would like to see communication improve, then please don’t hesitate to make those ideas known. We are here to serve you, and it’s nice to know how we are doing at that important task.
Q: Can we get some colors in the cafeteria so it doesn’t feel like a giant padded cell?
A: Glad to see we have some decorative skill in our student body! Here’s why the SLC is so…grey. Because it is a multi-use facility, we want to be careful to keep the permanent fixtures very neutral. However, there are lots of ways we can decorate to add color and vibrancy. We have talked about a number of different decorative techniques and resources. We just haven’t yet had the opportunity to pull the trigger. We are getting student representatives involved as well so that you will have a voice in what the SLC looks like.
Q: Is it possible to take the wall out and combine the 1st floor lounges in the dorm so everyone could use it? The kitchen could be upgraded to accommodate the opening and make it more appealing. A door could be added to still give privacy.
A: Based on student feedback, we have been looking at this type of project in the dorms for a couple of years. It’s actually more complicated than you might think, but don’t give up on the idea, because it has merit…
Q: In high school we had chapels 1 day a week. Why do we have chapel 3 days a week?
A: I suppose quantity is relative. Once upon a time, Calvary had chapels every day, and since those days it has been reduced to three times a week. The reason that we have assemblies/chapels is to provide opportunities for edification, encouragement, and worship. We try to provide a variety of different speakers from different cultures and different ministries to give you as much exposure to real world life and ministry as we possibly can. Plus, it’s a very good thing to come together as brothers and sisters and think together, share together, pray together, and praise God together.
Q: Has Calvary ever thought about using its acreage on campus for keeping cows? It could be a good revenue stream for Calvary.
A: While we can’t use our acreage on campus for cows (zoning, campus planning, stinky air, etc.), Calvary does have a very vibrant cow/calf program with local farmers and ranchers that helps provide revenue and high-quality beef for the cafeteria. I like how you think. That is exactly the kind of thinking we need.
Q: Hawaiian Bros has a $6.25 meal that comes with a drink. Just saying!
A: And I believe you can get a Happy Meal for $3????. But my challenge still stands: find me a buffet and a drink anywhere for less $ than what one might pay in our cafeteria.
Q: Colorado Campus is getting everything. Theatre peeps, you may be moving!
A: Actually Colorado isn’t getting everything. No plans to move any departments, including theatre. While yes, the Innovation Center comes with a lot of great resources, it also has some serious limitations. In any location Calvary is present, we want to make the most of that particular location. That means that we will have emphases based on the particular region and regional needs. Remember, this is very important; any successes at any Calvary location lift every Calvary location. There is only one CU, and it is awesome to see how God is providing for every CU location. Also remember that moving assembly to the SLC is facilitating the development of the Conference Center as our KC Performing Arts Center. We have a lot of work to get it where it needs to be, but the planning stage is in progress.
Q: Is this level of massive growth not a distraction from keeping our emphasis as a Bible believing and teaching organization? Is the desire to be a “big school” leading our University now?
A: I only desire one thing for CU: faithfulness. In Matthew 25, I suspect the steward who was given two talents did not say “I wish I had five,” and I am certain that the steward who was given five talents did not say “No thank you, I need to be focused, so only give me two.” Our job is to be faithful with what God entrusts to us, and God has entrusted to us the greatest period of growth in Calvary’s history. We are committed to being faithful to the Biblical focus, and He is choosing to allow us a broader stage on which to broadcast that Biblical focus. We don’t get to choose the scope of ministry that God has for us, we just get to choose whether or not we are faithful with that ministry. We plant, we water, but God causes the growth.
Q: In the last week, several students have slipped and fallen on ice. Are there steps being taken to improve efficiency in maintaining sidewalks/walkways?
A: Maintenance has had an impossible task these past few weeks. I have not seen this kind of ice in Kansas City the entire time I have been here. I am told this is the worst it has been in years. Our maintenance department has done a fantastic job, working early and working late, to make sure conditions are as safe as possible. If there are particular trouble spots, I am sure they would want to hear from you, but also please remember that you have a responsibility to be very cautious in inclement weather. It is one of the inherent dangers of being this far north. Hmmmm…maybe we should launch a campus in Hawaii…
Q: Can we get the gym to stay open past 5 on Sunday?
A: That is a great question for our athletic director Jeanette Regier. I am so thankful that with the keycard system and the renovations in the Pyramid, students are now able to access the gym throughout the week. I don’t know why the times are what they are, but I am sure that Coach Regier would love to hear your feedback.
Q: Why are women not allowed to take a preaching class? Even if women are not supposed to hold head pastoral positions, they should still be taught how to exegete, teach, and preach scripture (like as in leading women’s discipleship or at a women’s conference), right?
A: You are 100% correct. While men and women have clearly distinctive roles as outlined in scripture, both are equally accountable for knowing, doing, and communicating God’s word. Thus, men and women ought to be afforded the same learning opportunities. I suspect if such a rule is in place, it was somehow intended to affirm those biblical distinctions, but there may be a better way to affirm those distinctions than to restrict access.
Q: A lot of these questions (not just the ones submitted by me) are really whiny and Dr. Cone is answering literally all of them with an incredible amount of grace. Props sir. This isn’t a user submitted statement by the way, this is me, the Questioner.
A: Not sure exactly why, but this one is my favorite so far. ???? I appreciate the comment. Please know that I truly do value and enjoy the interaction and dialogue. I know anytime there are concerns or problems, the persons communicating those things can come across as a bit whiny – that’s just the nature of the beast – but I really don’t take them that way, I just appreciate the opportunity for communication. Thank you Calvary Questioner for providing a voice to those who might not otherwise comment. Props to you my friend!
Thank you all. Until next time…Holler any time!