Transforming Ordinary Students into Extraordinary Graduates

Chowan University
Written by David O'Neill

Murfreesboro sits in the inner banks region of north-eastern North Carolina. Its quaint size –Murfreesboro is a mere two square miles in size – nonetheless offers a variety of amenities to the 3,000 people currently living there…
The town once acted as a shipping port and was originally home to a number of Native American tribes. For almost 168 years, Chowan University has occupied a place in the town, offered a caring and nurturing environment for its students. In fact, the name Chowan stems from the Algonquian term for ‘people of the south.’

Initially, the college was founded in 1848 as a Baptist college for women; men were subsequently permitted to enroll in the 1930s. In the years since, Chowan University has established itself as an educational institution in which its students learn in a “caring environment characterized by Christian values and intellectual freedom in which students can gain the knowledge, skills, creativity, and ethical values they need to flourish in a rapidly changing, culturally diverse global society,” says the university’s website. The Christian ethos of the university is simply that, an ethos. Religious indoctrination is not at the forefront of the university and students from all religious traditions and welcomed and celebrated at Chowan. However, the university aims to demonstrate to its students a Christian way of life.

Chowan University which was founded on Christian values; however, this is only one aspect of the university, albeit a considerable one. Chowan wisely recognizes the rapidly developing and diverse nature of modern society and has responded to this appropriately. The mission statement of the university seeks to address the complex nature of education in a modern context while maintaining the school’s heritage. Chowan sets out to be a “University [that] is guided by the historic principles of religious and intellectual freedom – academic excellence, the dignity and worth of each individual, an atmosphere of open dialogue, freedom of inquiry and expression, and a moral commitment to the pursuit of truth,” according to its website, and these goals are applicable to students from any background.

In keeping with the population in the town, Chowan University experienced modest enrolment figures for much of its existence. However, in 2003, Dr. Christopher White became President of the university, bringing a wealth of experience and setting into motion positive change for the school. Since his arrival, Dr. White has seen the school’s enrolment more than double, from 700 to 1532 students. In addition to this, 2006 saw Chowan become a recognized university which offers graduate programs and the campus has seen over 10 million dollars in building improvements take place during this time.

The motto of the university is ‘Faith in your Future.’ This encapsulates the vision of the university in offering an education which is holistic by nature, providing students with faith-based support coupled with a dedication to their future career prospects. In other words, Chowan University seeks “to provide an education that transforms ordinary students into extraordinary graduates,” as espoused on its website.

With over 70 courses and programs on offer in class sizes of only 18, each student is recognized as an individual and will receive personal and relatable support from the teaching staff. The university offers numerous faculties ranging from Arts and Sciences –where students can study Music, Communication, Criminal Justice and Religion amongst other subjects – to Business and Marketing. Each faculty is supported by highly skilled and motivated lecturers. In addition to this, the Whitaker Library is home to over 300,000 books with which students can engage and develop their studies.

While clearly the focus is on the education of its students, life at Chowan University offers so much more than that. Every academic faculty has its own honor society in which students can “live what they learn in the classroom.” Other social opportunities for students include ministries, clubs, social organizations such as a chess club, a student newspaper, and performance groups.

Sporting life is also highly valued at the university. Intramural sports provide an opportunity for students to engage in sports competitively or purely for enjoyment, depending on their personal taste. Sports on offer at Chowan range from Basketball and Volleyball to Frisbee and Soccer. These hotly contested games take place in Squirrel Park which is found at the epicenter of the campus. Students are invited to either participate or merely offer support in the idyllic surroundings. These sporting events are generally followed by a visit to The Hawk’s Nest, the social hub of the campus, where students are likely to be found enjoying the restaurants, entertainment and pool tables on offer.

Students at Chowan University have a variety of living options available to them during their studies. Traditional residence halls, apartments and suites are all on offer to students and will provide students at Chowan with a secure platform from which they can maximize their college experience. The stability and safety of these living options give students the opportunity “to develop social and interpersonal skills, foster leadership skills, cultivate sound ethical and moral principles, deepen spiritual commitments, formulate a philosophy of life, and explore career opportunities.”

College life is almost impossible to categorize, such are the variety of courses, clubs and opportunities that are available to students. When this is paired with a diversifying and constantly changing world, the possibilities are endless. Chowan University places itself as an institution that values faith in every facet of the word; this is a university which supports the spiritual faith of its students but also places its own faith in its students. The university considers the growth and development of its students a high priority and is striving to ensure that future generations graduate and become citizens of high moral standing.

The university has seen its enrolment double in recent years. With more investment to come and opportunities to increase this enrolment even further, it is clear that Chowan University will be the focal point of education in Murfreesboro for many years to come.



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