Article

Wesleyan Higher Education Spotlight: Houghton College

"The goal of Wesleyan higher education is to cultivate in students the desire and capability to bring the light and hope of the gospel to the 21st century world." -President Shirley Mullen, Houghton College

As the oldest Wesleyan institution of higher education, Houghton College has a long-standing tradition of producing graduates of distinction in science, music, law, medicine, and many other disciplines. Houghton was recently recognized by USA Today as #6 in the nation and #1 in New York for "best value" based on the programs offered, student outcomes, and low default rates on student loans.

Houghton was recently recognized by USA Today as #6 in the nation and #1 in New York for "best value" based on the programs offered, student outcomes, and low default rates on student loans.

Beyond Houghton's reputation for excellence and affordability, Houghton offers more than a degree: they offer opportunities to make a Christ-filled impact on the ever-changing world.

Why is a Houghton education so formative? Houghton's President Shirley Mullen offered five distinctives of a Wesleyan education at Houghton College:

1. Theory and Practice Harmonize:

Houghton alumni are formed towards practical faithfulness. Their education goes beyond acquiring knowledge. Students are taught to put their "faith to work." James 2:17 tells us "In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead." (NIV) A Houghton education directs students toward a "working faith."

2. Knowledge Serves Community:

Students are encouraged to think about the community around them. The goal of this is to give them the tools needed to impact their neighbors for Christ.

Graduates of Houghton College bring their professional connections to their churches, enabling them to foster more meaningful relationships in their communities. President Mullen recalled one such Houghton graduate (from among many), now an attorney and a strong member of a Wesleyan church in Minnesota. This individual brings his connections and the influence of his education to his church's work in their city. In addition, Houghton College has shaped many leaders of The Wesleyan Church. Dr. Steve Lennox and Shirley Mullen both serve as university presidents, while Wayne MacBeth, Russ Gunsalus, and Kerry Kind serve at denominational headquarters. John Lyon--CEO of World Hope International--also graduated from Houghton College.

3. Personal Faith Yields Corporate Change:

Graduates of Houghton College fuse faith and work into their circles of influence, thereby partnering with The Wesleyan Church's mission to transform lives, churches, and communities through the hope and holiness of Jesus Christ.

Many key leaders have brought their Houghton education to the service of the church. Houghton's academic rigor produces graduates in all fields who are ready to enter the workforce or enter graduate school. This adds experiences and breadth to the Church community, offering expanded capacity for the Church's reach.

4. Transformative Global Experiences are Encouraged:

Students are taught to see the world through a global vision of service through teaching, medicine, law, etc. Houghton College follows John Wesley's notion of "the world is my parish." One of Houghton's 2010 alumni—Steve Grudda—was recognized by the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU) as their first ever CCCU Young Alumni Award. Grudda's award recognized his work in Sierra Leone, which began during his education at Houghton. Houghton College started sending students to Sierra Leone in the 1880's, but the last decade has brought new energy to this partnership following the Sierra Leone Civil War. This is just one example of how Houghton is producing graduates who make an international difference.

Grudda's award recognized his work in Sierra Leone, which began during his education at Houghton.

5. Students are Grounded in Truth:

John Wesley believed God speaks to us through Scripture, reason, tradition, and experience. Wesleyan higher education provides great freedom for exploring truth through all four "legs" of this Wesleyan Quadrilateral. Students are encouraged to ask questions and find a basis for practical truth. Houghton College informs both right thinking and right doing.

Houghton embodies The Wesleyan Church's missional priorities. Authentic Christian leaders are being developed through Bible studies, mission trips, and focused prayer. A unique way Houghton develops authentic Christian leaders is through "sports ministry." This program provides students with relational tools to connect the Christian faith with athletic kids, teens, and adults.

Houghton's ethnic diversity is seen in their student body's international composition. Students from 40 different countries as well as a broad range of ethnic backgrounds from the United States attend Houghton; faculty utilize this diversity to help students learn to be part of a global community.

Students from 40 different countries as well as a broad range of ethnic backgrounds from the United States attend Houghton; faculty utilize this diversity to help students learn to be part of a global community.

Houghton College's urban urgency is seen through the service their students and alumni provide to the city of Buffalo, New York. For over twenty-five years, Houghton has partnered with public schools in Buffalo to provide tutoring and fulfill the needs of urban communities. They have also embodied urban urgency in their work with Wesley ServiceCorps and their partnership with Western New York AmeriCorps and other non-profit/parachurch organizations. The relationship between the Wesleyan Church and the city of Buffalo is an amazing one, and has been nurtured through Houghton's alumni community. Currently, Houghton is also in the dialogue stage of replicating a similar relationship with the city of Brooklyn and The Wesleyan Church congregations there. These relationships provide a foundation for church multiplication and prepare students for ministry within their future communities.

Houghton College is "cultivating in students the desire and capability to bring the light and hope of the gospel to the 21st century world." If you would like to know more about Houghton College, visit their website.

Jessica White is a Staff Writer for Education and Clergy Development, and the mother of two young daughters, Abigail and Josephine. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education and taught second grade for three years before resigning to stay at home and raise her children. To read more about Jessica and the rest of ECD's writing team, click here.