An Institution's Altered Face, con't.

The face of Moravian College and Moravian Theological Seminary is changing.

There have been minority students at Moravian in the past, especially in the 1970s, just after legislation passed in the wake of the Civil Rights movement saw the first crop of African-American graduates from integrated schools. One of those was Odell Guyton ’77, now a member of the Board of Trustees.

But in the main, enrollment at both College and Seminary has been largely white, middle-class, and homogeneous. “Think about this! We’ve been sitting here since 1807, and the Moravian church is worldwide,” says Stephen Simmons, director of continuing education at Moravian Theological Seminary. “We bring in students from Guayana and many parts of Africa—but not a lot of minority students from our own territory.”

That changed in 1997, when President Rokke took office. He called for a series of initiatives to enrich the white-bread student body and the greater Moravian College community. These included diversity training for all faculty and staff and an outreach effort to attract a more diverse population of students.

Though progress in such a complex area has not happened overnight, there is already a demonstrable difference in the spectrum of undergraduate students, non-traditional students who attend the College through the Division of Continuing and Graduate Studies, the graduate programs in business administration and education, and the wide variety of students who answer the call to ministry by enrolling in the Seminary. Faculty and staff of the College and Seminary show similar change.

Consider:

• An undergraduate course in women’s studies/political science sends its students out to interview real women—specifically, “women not like yourselves,” says the professor.

• The Class of 2007, in addition to being the largest (386 students) and best-qualified academically in Moravian history, also has the distinction of being the most diverse, with 40 students, more than 10 percent of the freshman class, of color or complex ethnicity.

• The new faculty and staff hired in the last three years come, literally, from all over the map: Finland, Germany, New Zealand, Korea. There have been three African-Americans, an Afro-Caribbean, two Latinas, an Asian.

• The Chaplain’s Office gained a rabbi, Seth Frisch, and a prayer room was set up in the Seminary for observant Islamic students.

• Though the perpetual problem of too many places to put limited resources has cut the international student population at the College this year, there is still a healthy presence on campus of students from many countries, including Bulgaria, Pakistan, Ghana, Nicaragua, Turkey, Cameroon, China, India, Lebanon, the Czech and Slovak Republics, Nepal, Yugoslavia, Denmark, Tunisia, Canada, and Jamaica.

The article on this page appeared in the Easton Express-Times on August 17, 2003. It gives a glimpse of how Moravian is facing perhaps the most difficult—and fulfilling—challenge in its history. The winter issue of the Moravian College Magazine will feature a further look at the subject.

-Judith Green

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