MACU to offer first study abroad program
By Reggie Ponder
Monday, January 14, 2019
A study abroad program in Greece that includes a cruise. Continuation of efforts to build what is already a diverse student body. New curriculum programs that include science education.
All are some of what’s in store at Mid-Atlantic Christian University in 2019, say leaders of the private Elizabeth City-based Christian university.
“We’re excited about the future,” MACU President John Maurice said in an interview last week.
One new opportunity for students MACU officials are particularly excited about is a study-abroad program in Greece in June. According to Maurice, students who sign up for it will learn about the life and teachings of the Apostle Paul during a two-week cruise aboard a 72-foot sailboat on the Mediterranean and Aegean seas.
The cruise has been organized in cooperation with Hellenic Ministries, a partner of the Maritime Ministries organization that has a strong presence at MACU through Dan Smith, a Maritime Ministries leader who is MACU’s vice president for institutional advancement.
The class will be taught by Bane Angles, a MACU adjunct professor of Bible and pastor of First Christian Church of Roanoke Rapids. Students who take the course for credit will earn three units if they complete additional reading and writing assignments.
Maurice said priority will be given to students taking the class for credit but there also will be an opportunity for others interested in the course to go on the cruise and audit the class.
“This is our first study abroad program that we’ve done,” Maurice said. “I’m hoping it’s the first of many.”
Smith, who also took part in the interview, said seeing the places where Paul preached and taught is very powerful.
“Being in a geographic location and learning really is much more effective,” he said.
Smith said students taking the course will also see the work that Hellenic Ministries does in the region, including operation of medical clinics and feeding centers for refugees fleeing the war in Syria.
Some MACU students taking the course might decide to pursue internships with Hellenic Ministries, Smith noted.
MACU’s enrollment for the spring semester is 189. Maurice said that 6 percent growth in the number of new students and 4 percent total enrollment growth would put MACU’s student count at 232 in two and a half years.
Last week MACU held a number of “intensives,” on-campus courses in which students interact directly with professors and their peers on a particular topic. One intensive was titled Foundations, Issues and Strategies for Intentional Multi-ethnic Ministry and taught by Travis Hurley of Dream of Destiny, a church-based nonprofit.
Maurice said the course explored the question: “How can we make our churches look like Walmart — a snapshot of the community?”
Diversity is both a goal and a reality at MACU, he said.
“We are probably one of the most racially diverse colleges in North Carolina,” Maurice said.
While the university is very small, its student body is about 50 percent African-American and 5 percent Hispanic, according to Maurice and Smith.
“We are trying to be very intentional in terms of all of us living together in community,” Maurice said.
MACU will be offering new curriculum programs in 2019. Science education is slated to start in the fall. Other programs planned include bio-psychology and human resource management, and a minor and concentration in preaching.
Sports management, counseling, and youth and family ministries remain the most popular programs at the university.
New buildings are being planned for the campus but construction is not expected this year. Maurice said a capital campaign will likely start in 2020 to raise money for a new biology building, which is needed as the biology program continues to grow. A new student life center is also planned.
A number of events are planned for this year on campus, including an appearance by former Atlanta Braves player Chris Singleton at the @MACU youth event Jan. 27 and a Community Prayer Breakfast in April.
“We’re trying to bring our community together,” Maurice said, referring to the prayer breakfast.
On the Fourth of July, MACU will host a community-wide church picnic style event prior to the city of Elizabeth City’s fireworks display.
Also expected to continue in 2019 is the growing collaboration between MACU, Elizabeth City State University and College of The Albemarle. The collaboration includes regular meetings of Maurice, COA President Robert Wynegar, and ECSU Chancellor Karrie Dixon.
“We’re trying to find ways we can work together, because you know a rising tide raises all ships,” Maurice said.