Olivet The Magazine explains why "We Believe. You Belong Here."
In 1999, Olivet's marketing office added an unofficial tagline to traditional undergraduate recruiting materials: "We Believe. You Belong Here." The phrase simply reframed Olivet's mission of providing an "Education With a Christian Purpose" by connecting the University's purpose and vision with its community.
In the autumn issue of Olivet The Magazine, Lauren Beatty wove together student, faculty and staff reflections on how the Olivet community provides a place to belong for student and employees.
The following are excerpts from the feature article "Community: A Place to Belong." Read the full article here.
More than a catchy phrase, “We believe. You belong here.” reflects the University’s belief that Olivet is a place where students and employees can establish a sense of belonging through the blending of shared experiences and celebrated diversity. Believing and belonging are critical in the formation of young adults as they prepare for lives of service to God and humanity, and while the University seeks to shape its community, that community continually shapes the culture of the University. After all, a campus community is only as strong as the individuals who comprise the group.
A healthy community is able to evolve with the changes in culture and society while, at the same time, maintaining its core tenets. When the coronavirus pandemic threatened the safety of Olivet’s normal operations in March 2020, the University made the difficult decision to close campus. That decision not only briefly stymied academic operations; it also meant a temporary pause on campus community as it was previously known.
In late spring, Olivet leadership tasked a group of faculty and staff with overseeing plans for fall 2020, recognizing that the effects of the pandemic would be felt for the foreseeable future. The Fall Planning Steering Committee took form, pulling together the chairs of 10 task forces to create strategic plans for how, and if, the campus could open again in the fall.
Early in the summer, Dr. Dan Sharda, professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and chair of the Academic Task Force, wanted to create a strong vision for his task force, even in the midst of constantly evolving circumstances. To frame their work, the Academic Task Force did a revisioning exercise that sought to answer the questions “Why Olivet Nazarene University?” and “What is unique about the University? And, more specifically, what is unique about the people who make up the culture of Olivet?”
The answer that emerged was this: Olivet’s why is what sets the University apart.
“What we offer here is education with a Christian purpose, but that in and of itself is not unique from many other institutions,” Dr. Sharda says. “The why sets us apart. The why draws us to our students and them to us. The why makes us missionaries together.”
Many of the responses from the task force started with the phrase “I believe.” In contrast to think or feel, the word believe comes from a deeper place and carries the weight of conviction and purpose. At the end of the exercise, Dr. Sharda compiled the list of corporate statements that the task force felt embody the we and the why of Olivet.
All truth is God’s truth.
There are false narratives that need challenging from Christ followers.
A life connected to the Creator and community is a life abundant.
We are to solve creatively.
Values matter in our lives and in our work. This means making decisions differently in our careers or relationships.
Learning and wisdom are best in a Christian community.
We are all called in deep and meaningful ways regardless of our talents and abilities.
We are all servants of and leaders for God — living out His will for our lives.
You don’t know what you don’t know.
There are intangibles to communal living that make the ONU experience.
Teaching is more modeling than talking.
Every life has a calling as a child of God — a calling to serve, make a difference, grow and live into whom that life is created to be.
There exists in our world a hunger for relationships that have depth.
Experiential learning, enriched opportunities and habits of obedience all work together to inform personhood.
The revisioning exercise reminded faculty of their shared responsibility in maintaining Olivet’s unique focus on communal learning, living and truth-seeking as they set the tone for moving forward in fall 2020.