ASHINGTON (RNS) — Like most college presidents, Ari Berman and Hamza Yusuf care about giving their students the best education possible in the classroom.
They also want to support their students’ rights as people of faith.
Faith-based schools help students “to contextualize our lives in a greater mission, to have a sense of holiness about everything that we do,” Berman, president of Yeshiva University in New York, told a gathering of Christian college presidents in the nation’s capital last week (Feb. 1).
The Yeshiva University president’s comments prompted an “Amen” from an audience member.
Berman and Yusuf, president of Zaytuna College in California, took part in an interfaith panel focused on what faith-based schools from diverse backgrounds have in common. The panel, which also included presidents of Mormon, Catholic and Protestant schools, took place at the end of the Presidents Conference of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities, an evangelical consortium of more than 180 schools.
Like their counterparts, both Zaytuna College and Yeshiva University aim to reinforce their religious traditions to a younger generation as they educate them in fields of study ranging from liberal arts to law, their presidents said.
They defended their institutions as alternatives for students of faith who may be met with hostility from college professors at secular schools who consider their religion to be superstition or fellow students who don’t understand their beliefs.