empty divby Cheryl M. Bacon, Ed.D.
My support for the mission of Abilene Christian University can best be addressed by my answer to two questions: "Why do I teach at Abilene Christian University?" and "Why do I teach in the field of Journalism and Mass Communication?"
I have always considered myself a teacher. During the nine years in which I served with the professional staff in public relations, development, finance and administration, I had many opportunities to work in a teaching role with students. During those years I spent in the communication services area I often supervised a student staff of nine to twelve student workers each semester, teaching them about the media, about writing effectively and concisely, and about working in an organization.
I teach at Abilene Christian University because I believe few things we can give our children are as valuable as an education. Only one's relationship with the Lord and the blessings of family and friendships are of greater value.
The phrase "our children" is chosen with thoughtful intent. My philosophy of higher education does not necessarily encompass "in loco parentis." I do believe, however, that one's commitment to teaching and to students greatly intensifies in an environment where we see colleagues as brothers and sisters and where we see all those who are young in the Lord and eager in their search for truth as children of our greater community of believers. A fine education can be found in many places. Great teachers can forge a classroom in any venue. But here, our Mission is to prepare students for Christian service and leadership throughout the world. Here we must do all that teaching requires, and then we must do more.
We prepare our students for more than a vocation or a profession or a career. We do more than enrich their appreciation and understanding of the arts and sciences, even more than help them develop their own philosophy of life and learning. True, we must infuse students with a love of learning and a desire to learn, so that they will be equipped to continuously prepare themselves for an ever-changing world. But all teachers must do these things. As Christian teachers in a Christian university we prepare our students (our children) for a life that is centered on Jesus Christ, and focused on service to their fellow man. To succeed we must do this in our classroom, and we must do so with our lives.
That ever-changing world these young men and women are sent out to serve is influenced pervasively by the mass media and its allied fields of advertising and public relations. Most of my teaching assignments fall in the areas of journalism and public relations. Many professions can be transformed into ministry, but few so effectively as these two. God has chosen the written word as the primary means of conveying His will to the generations. He would not choose a weak medium. I try not only to teach my students how to write and edit, but to respect the power of the written word. I want them to know that the ability to write and communicate effectively is a powerful tool that carries with it great responsibility and tremendous potential for ministry and service.
As director of the public relations/advertising division I explain to prospective students that a public relations or advertising practitioner is a strategist and a problem solver who uses well-honed communication skills to help a client or organization persuade, inform and motivate its public. I am convicted that our world, and the Lord's church, is in desperate need of such people. When I was employed by the university as a public relations practitioner I saw my work as my ministry. Whether they spend their careers in business, government, education or the non-profit sector, I want my students to use their acquired skills and understanding to minister, serve and lead throughout the world.