Yesterday my school, Piedmont Baptist College, announced that they are changing their name to Piedmont International University. Because I am not on campus this year, because I am doing an internship in Ohio, I got the news through my friends tweet’s on Twitter. When I first saw the first few tweets I wasn’t really sure what to think, but the more I thought about the name change the more I really liked it. I like the name change for two reasons.
First, I am glad “Baptist” is not part of our school’s name anymore. Before anyone who is a Baptist reads this and get mad, let me explain that I do not have anything against Baptists. I grew up in a great Baptist church. I learned to love God and walk with Him in that church. I also got most of my ministry experience in that church and God used that church to call me into full-time ministry. With that being said, I do not hold to “Baptist” very tight. I am not a big fan of denominational titles and groups anyways, but if someone would to ask me if I am a Baptist or not I would say yes because I agree with most of the Baptist distinctions. If someone doesn’t ask me, than I will not even bring “Baptist” into the conversation because I do not see it as a “closed hand issue.” Also, getting “Baptist” out of our schools name can help some of us students who are not pursing a Baptist church for full-time ministry get a job. Since the beginning of summer I have been up North, PA and OH, doing internships to finish my degree. The moment you leave the “Bible belt” not many people have even heard of PBC and then when they hear “Baptist College” you lose a little bit of credibility. I am not saying that it is all about titles or about “looking good,” but it does help some of us who are pursing a ministry job outside the Baptist circle to be from a school that is a university.
Secondly, I am glad we are now a university. Honestly, I cannot understand why people would get mind we are moving to a university. I believe just that change will help our school grow numerically as well as in influence. If I was standing in a room with a university graduate than that university graduate would look more qualified professionally than I would because I came out of a Bible college. Being a university will help us as we because it will show that we are a legitimate school on the professional level. It is sad to say titles matter this much, but let’s be honest, people do look at titles. To help you understand the decision my school made here is a letter from the President:
Dear Friends of Piedmont,
Effective January 1, 2012, Piedmont Baptist College and Graduate School is planning to change its name to Piedmont International University. Acquiring university status is only the latest in Piedmont’s steady progression from our original name of Piedmont Bible Institute. The institute progressed to become a college (Piedmont Bible College for most of our history), and the college progressed to the point of adding a graduate school (eventually being called Piedmont Baptist College and Graduate School). Over the past decade Piedmont has doubled in enrollment, added a nice variety of new graduate and undergraduate degree programs (including a PhD in Bible), launched branch campuses in two other countries (one is still a teaching site), created an online Spanish version of our Master of Arts in Biblical Studies, developed a world class online school, and restructured Piedmont with four distinct academic schools.
1) School of Bible (with undergrad and grad degrees available)
2) School of Ministry (with undergrad and grad degrees available)
3) School of Education (with undergrad and grad degrees available)
4) School of Arts and Sciences (music and various general education classes)
All of this has propelled Piedmont into the exciting position where we can now obtain university status. The university label should also be less confusing to prospective students from other countries where “college” is synonymous with high school.
Speaking of other countries, Piedmont has historically placed high priority on missions and world evangelism. Scores of our graduates serve our Lord Jesus Christ in gospel ministry on every inhabited continent, and more and more nationals from around the world are enrolling via our world-class online school. Our graduates who desire to serve in Restricted Access Nations (where Christianity is illegal or missionaries are not allowed) and nationals who would enroll from those countries have repeatedly told us that any religious sounding name is detrimental to their efforts or even dangerous. Terms like “Baptist,” “Christian,” or “Biblical” are wonderful to us, but they are not very endearing to an immigration officer in some place like North Korea or Saudi Arabia.
Just today I spoke with the gentleman who gives oversight to our teaching site in Bangladesh. He was elated by the fact that he would no longer have to explain the term “college” to people who think it means high school, and he was very excited about not having to worry so much about having the government coming after him if they found out he was connected to a Baptist/Christian school. Piedmont International University won’t raise the red flags like a religious name might.
Although Piedmont International University does not sound religious, it is very important to our Board, Administration, Faculty, and Staff that everyone knows our passionate desire not to stray from our original mission of quality Bible teaching and effective ministry training. We will continue to require a Bible major for every person seeking a Bachelor’s degree in any discipline.
Piedmont’s theological foundation is more important than ever, and we have every intention of equipping our students to interact with a constantly shifting and pluralistic world by anchoring them with a literal, grammatical, contextual, historical hermeneutic for accurate Bible exegesis resulting in sound theology. In short, we will honor our Biblical heritage and Baptist distinctives while tenaciously contending for the faith.
With some of those ideas in mind, our governing Board of Trustees voted to approve our new name, Piedmont International University.
PIEDMONT – Because of our stellar history and rich heritage
INTERNATIONAL – Because of the all-nations priority of our mission* and vision**
UNIVERSITY – Because it represents more accurately what we are
Finally, please join us in prayer for Piedmont International University.
Because God Alone Matters,
Charles W. Petitt
Piedmont International University