Emmett Dulaney: Business school adopts ’salt and light’ approach

Wed, 2012-07-25 15:13 -- univcomm
July 25, 2012

As mentioned last week, it can be difficult to identify what “Christian” means when it becomes an adjective placed in front of “business” or “business professor.” It is something that I struggle with and still have yet to fully comprehend. Thankfully, much greater minds than I have focused on the topic and proffered the framework of “salt and light,” which the Falls School of Business is devoted to. Originally proposed by Mike Wiese (now the Director of Undergraduate Studies) and Ken Armstrong (former Dean of the FSB) in a paper published in Faculty Dialogue, the salt and light model is based on Matthew 5:13-16:

“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

While easy to memorize and quote (we can even give students extra credit for so doing!), putting it into practice is something else altogether. What does it mean to be salt? What does it mean to be light? It does not mean a compromise of competence, and certainly not one of character. Rather it puts forward that students, faculty, staff and all involved in the learning process work together and purposely adopt a style of servanthood. In particular, the role of the faculty member, as put forth in the model, is three-fold:

  • To provide content through the use of lecture and other appropriate tools intended to engage the student with the subject matter.
  • To testify belief and faith — modeling “salt and light” in professional and personal affairs.
  • And to guide students through a purposeful curriculum that is designed to develop subject-matter competence while challenging student values and priorities and facilitating interactions with various publics.

The original paper can be found online and, for me, the most meaningful passage can be found in the final two lines: “The difference comes from being scholars that are unashamedly value driven. We have the awesome opportunity to be the models for the individuals that the church is counting on to help change society.”

As an example of salt and light, Kent Saunders (finance and economics professor) was awarded the Richard C. Chewning Award for 2012 on June 28 in Vancouver. This is the highest honor given annually by the Christian Business Faculty Association (CBFA) to a business faculty member, and it marks the third time a representative from AU has won the Chewning Award in its 15-year history (Armstrong and Doyle Lucas being the other two recipients). Among a plethora of distinctions, Saunders is the editor of the Christian Business Academy Review, overseer of the Raven Investment Fund, and contributor to many finance journals. The model he sets is one that truly illuminates the meaning of salt and light, and I am proud to work in his shadow.

Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,600 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson University continues to be recognized as one of America's top colleges by U.S. News and World Report, The Princeton Review, and Forbes. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, music, nursing, and theology. The Falls School of Business is one of Anderson University’s largest academic departments offering eight undergraduate majors as well as MBA and DBA programs. The school is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) and is a member of the Christian Business Faculty Association (CBFA).

Columns from Anderson University’s Falls School of Business are published Tuesdays in The Herald Bulletin. Tuesday’s columnist is Emmett Dulaney, who teaches marketing and entrepreneurship.