A new conservative, evangelical Christian college will open this fall in Boston, funded by a Harvard-educated physician and investment fund manager.
Finny Kuruvilla, who also holds a Ph.D. from his leftist-leaning alma mater, will help fund the start-up Sattler College, named after 16th-century Christian martyr Michael Sattler, to the tune of $30 million, an amount he said will come over several years.
At its launch the college will be housed in the same office building that headquarters Kuruvilla's investment firm, and will start with three faculty and approximately 25 students, each paying around $9,000 in tuition — about a fifth of a year at a typical private university. The goal is to expand to a student body of around 300.
As reported by the Boston Globe, the academic model of the four-year liberal arts college will be unique to higher education: “The faculty will teach some core courses in biblical languages and religious history, but many academic courses will be taken online. Students will watch lectures through free online learning platforms such as EdX, then attend classes to discuss the material with other students and professors. Faculty, who will be named later, will also mentor the students spiritually, Kuruvilla said.”
While not affiliated with a specific evangelical denomination, according to its website, Sattler College's beliefs align most closely “with the persecuted, suffering churches of history, such as the ante-Nicene church, the Waldensians, the Wycliffites, and the Anabaptists.”
At its launch Sattler College will offer five majors — business, computer science, human biology, biblical and religious studies, and history — with plans to expand the majors to include engineering, physics, and journalism.
Kuruvilla, who attends and preaches at a small, conservative evangelical church in nearby Medford, Massachusetts, said that for young Christian college students, education must more fully encompass the formation of good character rather than simply the acquisition of knowledge and preparing for a professional career. “The whole notion of education has become generally confined to academic thought, not so much to developing of the whole person, character, and integrity,” he told the Boston Globe. “I think that’s a great tragedy.”
He emphasized that the church must be better at providing an atmosphere in higher education that helps to establish young people in their faith. “Why are we sending our young people into these broken models [of higher education] and watching this slow-moving train wreck happen?” he asked, adding, “That was the inspiration” for the launch of Sattler College.
He said that in addition to course work tailored to their specific majors, students will be subjected to a rigorous spiritual discipline, aimed at grounding them in their faith and Scripture.
“If you look at the original colleges, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, all of them, in order to graduate, you had to show proficiency in Hebrew and Greek, Latin, Old Testament and New Testament,” Kuruvilla told the Christian Post. You had to show that you were competent in these subjects. Today, literally zero colleges in America have that requirement. I think it is a shame that we went from 100 percent of our colleges requiring that a couple hundred years ago to now, zero. We are going to be the college that brings that back.”
He added that students at Sattler College will “have to go through a four-year discipleship program where, in small groups, they are developed in areas such as their prayer life, fellowship, evangelism, and the ability to walk in holiness.”
Kuruvilla noted that up to 80 percent of young people raised in Christian homes today are losing their faith by the time they complete their education.
“The modern educational system is too expensive, it's academically weak, and it's hostile to faith,” Kuruvilla told Fox News. “These institutions are very resistant to change, and so we decided to create our own college.”
As reported by the Christian Post, “When asked why Christian students should attend Sattler College rather than established Christian colleges like Wheaton College in Illinois or Liberty University in Virginia, Kuruvilla accused traditional evangelical institutions of moving away from biblical stances on issues such as divorce and sexuality over the last several decades.”
Said Kuruvilla: “That commitment to the authentic, historic faith is something that is a big differentiator between Sattler College and Wheaton and Liberty and those kind of places, which tend to be more traditional evangelical places. Even many of the students don't realize how much doctrines are changing in those kinds of places.”