May 22, 2002 2 min read
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Creationism Controversy

Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Va., is appealing a decision by a national association to deny it accreditation based on the school’s mandate that faculty members adhere to creationism in their teaching and classroom curriculum.

The small, Christian college—which specializes in serving students who were home-schooled—was denied accreditation by the American Academy for Liberal Education. The Washington-based group, which offers voluntary evaluations of liberal arts colleges, informed the college of its decision in an April 30 letter.

“They’re condemning our belief in creationism,” said Michael P. Farris, Patrick Henry’s president. “They’ve effectively asked us to engage in intellectual hypocrisy.”

The academy cited the college’s “Statement of Biblical Worldview,” which says that any courses in biology, the Bible, or other subjects will teach creationism, the belief that God created the world in six, 24-hour days, as stated in the book of Genesis. Evolution, on the other hand, “will not be treated as an acceptable theory,” the statement says.

Jeffrey D. Wallin, the academy’s president, declined to comment in detail on the case because of the school’s May 8 decision to appeal. Between two and five colleges a year typically apply for accreditation through the academy, he said.

In a statement on the school’s Web site, Mr. Farris says his 150-student college, founded two years ago, explains the theory of evolution in classes, but doesn’t subscribe to it. (“New College Set to Welcome Home-Schooled Students in the Fall,” March 29, 2000.)

Seeking Students

More than 325 colleges and universities responding to a recent annual survey said they still had spaces available for the fall 2002 semester, according to the National Association for College Admission Counseling.

The association, based in Alexandria, Va., sent inquiries to about 1,500 institutions to make information on remaining slots available to high school seniors and counselors, said David Hawkins, the group’s public policy director.

The number of open slots was not surprising, Mr. Hawkins said; the vacancies were about the same as in previous years. Some schools may not have offered admission to enough students, he said. In other cases, students may simply not have gained acceptance to the schools they targeted, he added.

“When you look at the list and you see Smith College, DePaul [University], and George Mason [University], ... you have a wide range of schools,” he said.

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A version of this article appeared in the May 22, 2002 edition of Education Week


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