After a year of study, Davidson College trustees have affirmed the college’s current relationship with the Presbyterian Church USA. The decision to maintain the status quo came despite a push by some alumni, trustees and others in the college community to relax the rules. The decision means that at least for now, the college won’t change its requirement that the president be a Presbyterian.
In a statement Wednesday morning, Davidson College Board of Trustees Chair Mackey McDonald said a trustee-appointed Committee on Church-Relatedness supported keeping the current policies and church connection. He wrote:
“The committee has concluded that Davidson’s distinctiveness is real and genuine, and Davidson’s church-relatedness has been a significant contributing factor to that distinctiveness.
Mackey said the board:
- Reaffirmed the Statement of Purpose and the continued voluntary relationship between the Presbyterian Church (USA) and Davidson College.
- Acknowledged that there are differing views among the Trustees with regard to the Presidential Bylaw and recognized that there does not exist sufficient support for any particular change to it.
- Will ensure that appropriate methods are in place to engage with the college community on an ongoing basis about the college’s faith heritage and relationship with the Presbyterian Church (USA).
The trustees’ decision leaves intact a college bylaw that requires the college president to be “a loyal and active church member, whose life provides evidence of strong Christian faith and commitment. Such faith and commitment will be appropriately expressed by affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA) and active participation in the life of Davidson College Presbyterian Church.”
Critics of the college’s policy had pushed for eliminating that requirement. As the college admits more non-Presbyterians and non-Christians, non-Christian alumni have complained that they’re allowed to attend Davidson, graduate and even donate to the college. But they’re barred from helping to lead it.
The issue was raised during the search that resulted in the appointment of current Davidson president Carol Quillen, who is a Presbyterian. In a December 2010 tatement, McDonald acknowledged concerns about the policy, saying the issue had come up “in almost every meeting” with faculty, alumni, parents, and other constituents in the previous few months.
He, and later Quillen, promised to discuss the question, and trustees appointed their subcommittee a year ago.
Read the statement and see background information at talk.davidson.edu