The Character of Gordon College
Description and History
Gordon College is the preeminent Christian college in the global hub of higher education, widely respected for its commitment to bold intellectual inquiry, personal mentoring and academic rigor. Through a broad spectrum of liberal arts and sciences, students develop the intellectual scope and leadership skills to address the increasingly complex challenges of a global society.
Gordon offers 38 majors and confers three separate undergraduate degrees: Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Music. Gordon also confers the Master of Education, Education Specialist and Master of Music Education degrees in education and music education.
In the fall of 2017, the College’s undergraduate enrollment of 1,591 was drawn from 44 states and 52 foreign countries, with approximately 32 percent multicultural or international students.
Gordon was founded in Boston in 1889 by a small group of Christians who recognized the need for educated leadership in churches and in society. They organized what was first called the Boston Missionary Training Institute. Chief among the founders, and the first president, was the Reverend Dr. Adoniram Judson Gordon, a prominent Boston pastor whose name the school adopted after his death in 1895.
Gordon developed into a liberal arts college with a graduate seminary and moved to its present several-hundred-acre North Shore campus in 1955. In 1970 the divinity school was merged with the Conwell School of Theology from Philadelphia to form the new and separate Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, located in South Hamilton, Massachusetts.
Barrington College was founded in 1900 as the Bethel Bible Training School in Spencer, Massachusetts, and was later located in Dudley, Massachusetts, and Providence, Rhode Island. It took the name Barrington after the campus was moved to that Rhode Island community in 1959. Gordon and Barrington were merged as the united college on the Wenham campus in 1985. In 1996 Gordon College began a graduate program in education and in 2003 added a graduate program in music education.
Over the years Gordon has been a leader in three clusters of colleges and universities to provide a wide range of added study options both at home and abroad. The groups are the Christian College Consortium (13 institutions), the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (over 100 institutions) and the Northeast Consortium of Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts (10 institutions).
Gordon College strives to graduate men and women distinguished by intellectual maturity and Christian character, committed to lives of service and prepared for leadership worldwide.
Objectives: Goals for Learners
As a Christian community of learners, Gordon College acknowledges the great commandments to love God with our hearts, souls and minds, and to love others. These commandments provide the foundation for learning, character and service. At Gordon the academic and the cocurricular programs emphasize that the integration of who one is, what one knows and what one does is vital to the College’s mission.
The union in intellectual maturity and Christian character is essential to prepare graduates for lives of servanthood and leadership. This is developed as the community is challenged to:
- Pursue truth as revealed by God in Christ, Scripture and creation
- Develop a Christian worldview as a basis for both informed reflection and a reformation of culture
- Practice spiritual disciplines to promote lives marked by virtue
- Begin a journey of lifelong, faith-directed learning
- Grow in intellectual curiosity through foundational studies in the liberal arts and specialized studies in a field of knowledge
- Cultivate a frame of mind that embraces critical thinking, discernment and perseverance
- Communicate with clarity, conviction and humility
- Build strong and caring relationships among families, friends, congregations and communities
- Commit to a life of physical and emotional health while balancing time spent in work and recreation
- Become a responsible world citizen whose love for God expresses itself through the wise stewardship of creation, care for the weak and vulnerable, and respect for the uniqueness of individuals and cultures
- Respect the heritage of the Church and serve the Body of Christ with commitment, fidelity and self-sacrifice
- Acquire a sense of vocation and calling before God
- Proclaim and live out the gospel as agents of reconciliation and transformation in all dimensions of life
Foundations of Gordon’s Philosophy of Education
Gordon College approaches education from within the framework of biblical theism, which provides a coherent perspective on life and the world. The following are the principal ingredients of our academic profession of faith:*
We acknowledge the centrality of God’s person and authority over all of life. God reveals Himself through His created order, the Scriptures, the work of His Spirit, and uniquely in His Son, Jesus Christ. Those within the Gordon community who have come to experience God as Father by faith in His Son know God in a personal way and seek to submit to His authority in all aspects of life.
Men and women are created by God for a unique role–that of responsible image bearers and responsive servants. As such, they have dignity and worth. Although fallen creatures, they are the object of God’s redeeming love and through Christ can know God and His revelation. Because humans are called to honor God with their whole being, the College is committed to the total development of its students.
All creation testifies to the God who called it into existence, sustains it and remain sovereign over it. From this, creation derives its coherence and meaning. By virtue of the redeeming work of Christ, creation can be directed to God’s service and glory. The world of creation is entrusted to us. Our task is to discover, develop responsibly and care for it for the benefit of all.
Faith and Learning
Truth has its origins in God, Who has chosen to reveal Himself and His truth to us. Knowledge of God is the proper setting for all understanding. Reason exercised in the framework of a faith commitment to God will nurture our faith and expand our knowledge. For us faith and learning are inseparable.
The Christian’s purpose in life is to enjoy God and His creation; to serve God and others; to bear witness to the Lordship of Christ; and to reform society, culture and the Church by the application of Christian thought and values in all dimensions of human endeavor.
At Gordon College we recognize that God’s eternal Word is the ultimate source and foundation of all truth. Thus the integrity of scholarship and loyalty to intellectual honesty are basic commitments in the search for truth.
Both the student and professor are accorded the right to know all pertinent data and relevant interpretations in all areas of study. Moreover there must be mutual insistence upon candor in revealing assumptions and in clarifying perspectives. Within our common commitment to the Bible, from which the Gordon College Statement of Faith is derived (see Appendix A), each person in the College community may exercise the right of free judgment. If scholarship is to proceed without coercion, there must be freedom within our commitment to raise questions and explore diverse viewpoints.
Gordon College maintains that the common bonds of faith and commitment to the elements of Christian education which unite us present no impediment to the pursuit of truth, but rather provide an integrative approach to our scholarly endeavors.
Gordon College as a Community
Gordon’s curriculum and faculty will expose the student, regardless of ability, to the fullest measure of academic freedom and challenge. The College’s goal is for students to respond to Jesus’ command in the parable of the talents: to develop their abilities freely and invest them fully in the various vocations to which they are called by God.
As a Christian institution Gordon College was founded on the confession that Jesus Christ is God’s unique Son and our Savior. This confession has implications for our identities as individuals, for how we understand and conduct our common task of pursuing education and for how we relate to each other and the world around us.
As individuals loved and chosen by God, it is the joyful responsibility of each member of the community to grow in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus, to be rooted and grounded in His love and to increasingly be filled with the life of Christ.
We believe God cares for all peoples and is at work in all areas of the globe. As His children we seek to find our unique place of calling in His kingdom while growing in knowledge of and appreciation for God’s work in all aspects of the natural world, human history and culture. Such growth is a function of individual habits and dispositions as well as corporate practices and expectations. It is a responsibility of the institution to continue to provide opportunities and encouragement for the community to grow in spiritual depth and breadth, and it is expected that members of the College community will be faithful in their obligation to one another to avail themselves of these opportunities to grow and interact with one another with mutual support and encouragement.
Regular times of corporate worship are vital for maintaining a sense of our true selves before God. Likewise, regular corporate worship challenges us to offer our gifts of study to God as a sacrifice of praise as we pursue knowledge of the world He has made and our roles as stewards of it. Therefore, we are a community that prays together and regularly makes time for the public reading of Scripture. It is likewise expected that each member of the community will carefully tend to the condition of his or her heart, actively pursue a genuine relationship with God and contribute positively to the spiritual growth of those around him or her.
Along with the academic curriculum, the Christian Life and Worship Program sponsors opportunities, including Chapel services and Convocations, to promote learning and spiritual formation. Participation in Christian Life and Worship events is an integral part of a Gordon education, an extension of the Core curriculum. Each semester students are expected to attend a fixed number of services or programs.
As a Christian community Gordon College seeks to maintain itself by fostering ideals and standards consistent with a Christian worldview. The College has established a Statement of Life and Conduct (see Appendix B) which sets forth the assumptions and principles which should guide the conduct of responsible Christians and the specific behavioral expectations for members of the Gordon College community.
The use of alcoholic beverages and tobacco is not permitted on the campus, adjacent properties or at any College-related activity. Members of the Gordon community are not to use, possess or cause to be brought on campus narcotic or hallucinogenic drugs, including marijuana.
Although these and other rules are valuable for orderly community life, they do not dominate or express the spirit of Gordon College. As a community the College is deeply committed to mutual support, freedom and responsibility, all of which are essential for the practical expression of God’s love.
Gordon College has chosen the more difficult approach to discipline: that of looking beneath the surface of each behavior and responding with a balance of mercy and justice. In doing so, the College seeks to reflect that dual nature of God’s character-His mercy and His judgment-in disciplinary decisions. This means maintaining a balance between severity and kindness, harshness and tenderness, conservatism and generosity-striving for what is appropriate for each particular situation.
There is a relatively common set of responses to behavioral violations. Warnings, probation or other sanctions follow misconduct associated with: visitation violations, dishonesty, theft, other compromises of personal integrity, violations of Gordon’s Statement of Life and Conduct related to use of alcohol and tobacco, sexual misbehavior, hazing, disruptions to community life or threats to the health and safety of others. The College believes that when students choose to disregard community expectations, the College has the obligation to suspend their community privileges for a time, including housing, class participation and cocurricular activities.
Gordon College encourages students to wrestle with values and personal ethics and to “work out their faith” while living and studying here. Though honest discussion is healthy and welcome, students are still expected to adhere to the Gordon community’s behavioral expectations.
The Vice President for Student Life has administrative responsibility for all cases of student misconduct. Discipline cases may be handled by the student’s resident director, the assistant dean of residence life, the dean of student care, the vice president for student life and staff as needed. The College exercises its responsibility to suspend any student whose general conduct or influence is considered inconsistent with the best interests of the College community.
Accreditations and Affiliations
Gordon College is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges Inc., a nongovernmental, nationally recognized organization whose affiliated institutions include elementary schools through collegiate institutions offering postgraduate instruction. Such accreditation indicates that the institution meets or exceeds criteria for the assessment of institutional quality applied through periodic peer group reviews. Accredited schools or colleges must have available the necessary resources to achieve stated purposes through appropriate educational programs, are substantially doing so and give reasonable evidence they will continue to do so in the foreseeable future. Institutional integrity is also addressed through accreditation.
Accreditation by the New England Association applies to the institution as a whole. Inquiries regarding status of an institution’s accreditation by the New England Association should be directed to the administrative staff of the College.
Individuals may also contact the Association:
Commission on Institutions of Higher Education
New England Association of Schools and Colleges
209 Burlington Road
Bedford, Massachusetts 01730-1433
Gordon College is also accredited, certified or approved by the following agencies:
- Interstate Certification Compact
- National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification
- Massachusetts Board of Higher Education
- United States Government (Gordon College is approved by the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education for the training of veterans and their dependents and authorized under Federal law to enroll nonimmigrant students.)
- Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
- National Association of Schools of Music
- The Council on Social Work Education for Baccalaureate Social Work Education
Gordon belongs to numerous educational and professional organizations. See Off-Campus Programs for a listing of the many affiliations and linkages which enrich Gordon students.
Christian College Consortium (CCC) and Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU)
As a member of the Christian College Consortium and the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities-associations formed to promote interinstitutional cooperation for the cause of Christian higher education-Gordon College provides a number of educational opportunities beyond its own campus in cooperation with selected Christian colleges from coast to coast. Member colleges are committed to the tenets and spirit of evangelical Christianity. In addition, the Consortium seeks to encourage member institutions in the pursuit of their respective missions through student scholarships, educational conferences, and a variety of student exchange programs.
Students benefit directly through participation in the Consortium Visitor Program and in CCCU programs: the Washington-based American Studies Program; the Contemporary Music Center in Nashville, TN; the Latin American Studies Program in Costa Rica; the Los Angeles Film Studies Center; the Middle East Studies Program in Jerusalem; and the Uganda Studies Program in Mokono, Uganda. In addition, the Consortium sponsors research and study among faculty on the integration of the Christian faith and learning, and designs and promotes research activities to evaluate educational programs and to improve the management of member institutions.
Northeast Consortium of Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts (NECCUM)
Gordon College is a member of the Northeast Consortium of Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts, a collective of state and private institutions which includes Endicott College, Marian Court College, Merrimack College, Middlesex Community College, Montserrat College of Art, North Shore Community College, Northern Essex Community College, Salem State College University and the University of Massachusetts Lowell. These colleges are within an hour’s drive of one another. Resources of all participating institutions are available to students. Under the cross-registration program, full-time students with a minimum 2.0 GPA may enroll in up to two daytime courses each term at another member college without payment of tuition beyond that paid to the home institution. Other activities of the Consortium include sharing of computer and plant facilities, joint purchase arrangements and plans for interinstitutional sponsorship of faculty/student colloquia and special events programming.
Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC)
Gordon College does not have an on-campus ROTC program. However, through a consortium agreement with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, students participating in an Air Force or Army ROTC program may make arrangements to cross-register and transfer ROTC coursework. Contact the ROTC Office at M.I.T.