Gerson Moreno-Riaño is the incoming president of Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Video screengrab

Cornerstone College votes no-confidence in president the day earlier than inauguration

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(RNS) — College at Cornerstone College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, voted no confidence within the Christian college’s incoming president on Thursday (Oct. 21), at some point earlier than his scheduled inauguration. 

Since his appointment in Might, Gerson Moreno-Riaño, slated to be formally named the college’s twelfth president, has allegedly opposed range, fairness and inclusion efforts and created a tradition of concern by firing workers and professors with little or no warning.

Moreno-Riaño beforehand served as govt vice chairman for educational affairs and chief educational officer at Regent College, the Virginia college based by evangelical chief Pat Robertson.

The 42 to six vote, with 14 abstaining, is non-binding however was reported to the varsity’s board in a letter late Thursday.

In an earlier letter, 42 college college and workers mentioned, “Our present campus tradition has grow to be considered one of concern and suspicion. College and directors — lots of whom have devoted lengthy years of trustworthy service to the college and our college students — have merely disappeared with out clarification.” 

Carole Bos, chair of Cornerstone’s board of trustees, mentioned in an announcement to RNS that the brand new president “is dedicated to persevering with our range efforts and can lead the Board’s cost to construct a various Cornerstone neighborhood. Our board is assured that he’ll search collaboration with our large college and workers to assist our college students attain even additional of their targets to serve the worldwide market. Most of all, he’ll problem every of us — and himself — to stay steadfast to the teachings of Christ whereas we attain above the extra frequent, contentious dialogue inside as we speak’s social panorama, in order that all of us might stay targeted on coaching future leaders.”

Cornerstone, a member of the Council for Christian Schools & Universities, was based in 1941 because the Baptist Bible Institute of Grand Rapids. Since then, the varsity has advanced right into a nondenominational liberal arts establishment with roughly 2,000 college students enrolled in graduate and undergraduate applications and two seminaries.   

Cornerstone College emblem. Courtesy picture

On Oct. 3, written testimony submitted to the board detailed Moreno-Riaño’s alleged creation of a hostile atmosphere.

The doc was signed by 22 full-time college members and 19 workers, although some remained nameless because of concern of retaliation. A abstract doc proven to RNS incorporates reviews of bullying and intimidation, threats of dismissal and unilateral choices in hiring.

The doc expressed college and staffers’ extra issues about Moreno-Riaño’s obvious opposition to range, fairness and inclusion.

There was a “disappearance of almost each worker who advocated for DEI,” the abstract mentioned, together with the assistant to the president for range and inclusion, the director of range and multicultural affairs and the vice chairman for scholar improvement.

Brenda King, who had served as assistant to the president for range and inclusion, declined to remark. 

Employees have allegedly been prohibited from utilizing language related to anti-racism, together with “micro-aggressions,” “privilege” and “unconscious bias.”

The abstract alleges that official paperwork have been edited to censor such language and that an intercultural research lecture sequence was abruptly canceled.

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“There may be an expectation to evolve to the president’s imaginative and prescient,” wrote one college worker in an excerpt included within the abstract. “Thus, if one doesn’t undergo the president’s imaginative and prescient, that particular person shall be faraway from employment at Cornerstone College. The president and his administration will not be solely hindering DEI efforts however are aggressively undermining the progress that has been made, to the detriment of college, workers, and college students of colour.”

The abstract paper suggests Moreno-Riaño has characterised the earlier administration as financially incompetent and adrift from the college’s mission. In a single occasion, the abstract mentioned, the president spoke of himself as an incoming hero who would clear up the earlier administration’s failures and reinstate Cornerstone’s unique conservative Baptist identification. 

As phrase of those remarks circulated, former President Joseph Stowell, who served as president for 14 years and had been helping with fundraising, resigned from his present place in early October. Near the identical time, a gaggle of Cornerstone alumni posted an open letter on-line that was addressed to the board of trustees, expressing issues about Moreno-Riaño. The letter was taken down on Oct. 18.  

In an Oct. 18, 2020, article for the Washington Examiner, Moreno-Riaño elaborated on his imaginative and prescient for greater training. He wrote that American greater training’s inadequate concentrate on Western Civilization and its extreme consideration to “the oppressed” is shaping college students into “vicious” and “illiberal” people who’re collaborating within the “corrosion of US democracy.”

“American greater training should be renewed in order that it could reject the revolutionary impulses that may result in its demise,” he wrote. “This renewal begins when universities are held accountable to supply training that’s actually tolerant — that pretty considers the breadth and depth of approaches to the true, lovely and good, and isn’t myopically fixated on the views of the ‘oppressed.’”

In line with Carl Ruby, a pastor in Springfield, Ohio, the occasions at Cornerstone are half of a bigger sample of conservative retrenchment at Christian schools and universities. In 2013, Ruby mentioned, he was pressured to resign as vice chairman for scholar life at Cedarville College, a Christian college the place “there are fears of the establishment drifting too far to the left, and most of these fears are prompted by issues over problems with social justice,” he mentioned.

“What occurred at Cedarville and what’s taking place at Cornerstone mirror a deep rift that’s growing in evangelicalism,” Ruby added, “and that is only a symptom of that.” 

RELATED: Evangelical Christian schools take steps to deal with racial justice after criticism

Moreno-Riaño’s inauguration is scheduled to characteristic a number of notable conservative leaders. They embody Kay Coles James, former president of the Heritage Basis, and Peter Wooden, president of the Nationwide Affiliation of Students and writer of “1620: A Vital Response to the 1619 Undertaking,” a ebook that locates America’s founding on the signing of the Mayflower Compact.

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