“If A.B. Simpson were to wake up today and see Nyack/ATS, he’d be blessed out of his shoes!”
With those words, Dr. David Rambo summed up his perspective on where the Christian and Missionary Alliance’s charter institute of higher education is in 2007 and where it is headed in the future. He should know. Dr. Rambo served as President of Nyack College and the Alliance Theological Seminary (ATS) from 1982 to 1987, and then returned to lead ATS from 1996 to 2000.
Dr. Rambo bases his optimism on a handful of truths. The first is Nyack/ATS’s dramatic growth.
“If you ask people about enrollment, they usually say it’s around 1,000,” he said. “But what is it now, closer to 3,200? Most people would gasp if they heard that! They don’t know there’s been a lot of growth in places like New York City, Albany, Ohio, Washington, DC and Puerto Rico.”
Rambo credits extension campuses for much of the enrollment surge—most notably the campus in New York City. He openly wonders if the NYC campus will one day surpass the central campus in enrollment and even believes such an occurrence may be central to the continued health of the college.
He also sees great potential in the area of online education. “Many major universities now are into online education. I think online education is the future,” he said. It’s the only way some people are going to get to college.” Does Dr. Rambo think offering online classes somehow short-changes students? Does it rob them of the quality education they would otherwise receive on campus? “Studies are debunking many of the objections to it,” he said. “And for many, it’s online college or no college at all. I think it’s a wide open door with unlimited possibilities.”
Dr. Rambo believes one of Nyack’s greatest strengths—and potential burdens—is its tremendous diversity. Widely recognized as the most ethnically diverse institution of Christian higher education in the world, Nyack/ATS is in a position to break new ground—and break down old barriers—says Rambo. It can also offer something to its students that most others colleges and universities cannot.
“Students who come here are getting the kind of education that mirrors the real world,” Dr. Rambo said. “Pursuing and maintaining ethnic diversity is wonderful. At the same time, it’s terribly hard work.”
Finally, Dr. Rambo is encouraged by the spiritual fiber of Nyack/ATS students. That, combined with the ongoing commitment of the college and seminary to reach the world for Christ, will carry the school safely into the 21st century.
“Wesley said, ‘The world is our parish,’ and Nyack/ATS has said that from Day One,” Dr, Rambo said. “We’re involved all over the world in a big way.
“And the young people … there are many who are pessimistic about young people today. But I view this generation of students with great admiration. They are willing. They are radical. They are people who want to change the world.
“Jesus is building His church and He is using Nyack/ATS to help do that. We are at the front end of a great opportunity.”
By Bob Dickson