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Finding success through a diverse community: how a new Anderson University scholarship grew enrollment—and helped its campus look more like God’s kingdom
 

 

Olivia Johnson had two prayers answered at once.

The first? Becoming a student at Anderson University.

“I had my heart set on Anderson University by the start of my junior year of high school,” she said. “The financial burden of paying for college education on my own was incredibly stressful.”

The answer to that prayer—and the second—was the inaugural Anderson University Connect: Diversity Leadership Scholarship. Johnson was one of the 58 first-year students who received the scholarship for the 2020-2021 academic year at AU.

Now, about that second prayer. It is one echoed by students of color on campus, and seeing it answered is a strategic focus of the University, its Board of Trust and the entire campus community:

“It is important that Anderson University not only embraces diversity among its students, but also seeks to reflect God's kingdom because His kingdom is the truest example of diversity,” Johnson said.

The Connect: Diversity Leadership Scholarship was the brainchild of President Evans Whitaker and his wife, Diane Whitaker, who serves in the Office of Traditional Admission. Anderson University Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion Dr. James Noble is tasked with implementing the University’s strategic diversity plan and, as such, he also calls it an answer to prayer.


"The Office of Diversity and Inclusion seeks to create a campus climate where everyone is an insider and no one is an outsider to the glory of God."​​​​​​​
 

— James D. Noble, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Pastoral Ministry and Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion


"Diversity means more than just the color of a person’s skin. It means culture, language, ideology, faith...I don’t think I can express just how much I believe that it is important that AU embrace diversity within its students since as true Christians we should know and accept the fact that God’s kingdom is so richly diverse and God loves all people no matter what they look like or any other unique traits that make someone who they are."​​​​​​​
 

— Jordyn Rhone
Anderson University Nursing Major


The students it brought to AU helped the University break enrollment records overall, but also was part of the catalyst for seeing the highest number of students of color in the institution’s 110-year history.

“I honor the Lord Jesus for this diversity scholarship. He knew the countless blessings it would bring to extremely bright young students,” Dr. Noble said. “Now, many students of color can see their dreams come true of matriculating through college and reaching their goals of having successful careers and ministry opportunities.”

The scholarship was a major factor in bringing nursing major Jordyn Rhone to Anderson, too.

“Anderson became an option when I decided to apply and then attend a nursing workshop that I was invited to,” she said. “I had an overwhelming feeling as if I was meant to attend this institution within my first few hours of being on campus.”

Part of Anderson University’s commitment to increasing its cultural diversity on campus is so its campus community more properly reflects God’s kingdom. Dr. Noble takes Rev. 7:9 as one of his department’s guiding verses:

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.

Jordyn embraces that view, which is one of the reasons she chose to attend Anderson.

“Diversity means more than just the color of a person’s skin. It means culture, language, ideology, faith...I don’t think I can express just how much I believe that it is important that AU embrace diversity within its students since as true Christians we should know and accept the fact that God’s kingdom is so richly diverse and God loves all people no matter what they look like or any other unique traits that make someone who they are,” she said.

That’s something the entire University can—and should—celebrate.

“These two testimonies are only the beginning of the many stories of how our minority students feel about Anderson University,” Dr. Noble said. “The Office of Diversity and Inclusion seeks to create a campus climate where everyone is an insider and no one is an outsider to the glory of God.”