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CCCU Honors Four Exemplars of Christian Higher Education at 40th Anniversary Gala

February 01, 2016
Steven Grudda receives the CCCU Young Alumni Award. Photo by Warren Pettit.
Steven Grudda receives the CCCU Young Alumni Award. Photo by Warren Pettit
Karen A. Longman receives the John R. Dellenback Global Leadership Award. Photo by Warren Pettit
Karen A. Longman receives the John R. Dellenback Global Leadership Award. Photo by Warren Pettit

WASHINGTON—In recognition of their contributions to Christian higher education, four individuals received distinguished awards at the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities’ 40th Anniversary Gala Dinner on Jan. 27, 2016. 

The gala, which also kicked off the CCCU’s annual Presidents Conference, honored Houghton College alumnus Steven Grudda with the CCCU Young Alumni Award; Karen A. Longman, professor of higher education at Azusa Pacific University, with the John R. Dellenback Global Leadership Award; and Bill & Judy Pollard, longtime partners in Christian higher education, with the CCCU Philanthropy Award.

“Forty years ago, a group of 36 institutions came together because they believed they could better advance the cause of Christian higher education together than separately,” Hoogstra said. “Today, the CCCU includes 179 institutions in 20 countries around the globe, and we continue to grow in numbers and impact. Tonight’s awards celebrate the outstanding effort that these individuals have made toward filling that vision.”

CCCU Young Alumni Award: Steven Grudda

The CCCU Young Alumni Award, the CCCU’s newest honor, was awarded to Steven Grudda, a 2010 graduate of Houghton College in Houghton, New York. The award is given to individuals who have graduated within the last 10 years and have achieved uncommon leadership or success in a way that reflects the values of Christian higher education.

“When my parents and I were thinking about college, I really only looked at Christian schools. We were confident that by attending a Christian college or university I would be introduced to life-long Christian friends, be challenged to deepen and live out my faith, and be trained to be an effective professional,” Grudda said. “During my time at Houghton, God accomplished all three in more ways than I could have asked or imagined, so it’s really great to have Jesus’s influence in my life recognized by this award.”

Grudda, who majored in international relations and French, is currently an associate at Endsight Consulting, where he serves as the lead on African agribusiness. His career path began while he was still a student, when he traveled to Sierra Leone and completed a research project exploring how mango farmers there could be included in a business’s supply chain.

That project, which was submitted to the organization World Hope International, led to Grudda’s first job in international development, when he returned to Sierra Leone to coordinate the Mango Out-Growers Project, a joint endeavor between World Hope and Houghton College to connect farmers in Sierra Leone to the country’s first fruit concentrate manufacturer. He continued to work in a number of roles in Sierra Leone, all with the goal of helping small famers and the local community flourish.

Thousands of people cast their votes for the 30 nominees in October, narrowing the selection down to 12 finalists before casting the vote for the winner. Votes were weighted against the full-time enrollment of the institution.

John R. Dellenback Global Leadership Award: Karen A. Longman

Karen A. Longman, a professor and Ph.D. program director in the department of higher education at Azusa Pacific University in Azusa, California, received the John R. Dellenback Global Leadership Award. A recognized scholar whose work has focused on various dimensions of Christian higher education and issues related to leadership development, Longman’s commitment to identifying, equipping, and encouraging the next generation of diverse leadership for Christ-centered higher educa­tion has had significant impact throughout the CCCU.

“We are known as a movement established and founded in Christ-centered wisdom. It’s appropriate that we would honor our wise woman with an award of distinction for her leadership legacy, her mentoring, her discipleship, and her scholarship,” said Azusa Pacific University President Jon R. Wallace during his presentation of the award to Longman.

Longman served as the CCCU’s vice president for professional development and research for 19 years, and then spent six years serving as vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty at Greenville College in Greenville, Illinois, before accepting her current role at Azusa Pacific.

Today, she continues to serve the Council as a senior fellow, directing the CCCU’s annual Leadership Development Institutes, which she founded during her time as CCCU vice president in response to a concern about the under-representation of leaders of color and women leaders across these institutions.

John Dellenback, president of the CCCU from 1977-88, served as a congressman from Oregon and as the former director of the U.S. Peace Corps, and was highly regarded for his leadership and his mentoring abilities. Receiving an award in his name was a special honor, Longman said, because of his mentorship to her when she worked with him at the CCCU.

“I want to encourage you and challenge you to spot potential and to affirm giftedness and to equip the next generation of both your colleagues and students,” she said. “Every person on our campuses has been gifted for good works and is supposed to walk into those good works, and our privilege is to help them get there.”

CCCU Philanthropy Award: Bill and Judy Pollard

Bill and Judy Pollard, longtime investors of their time, talents and finances in advancing the cause of Christian higher education, received the CCCU Philanthropy Award.

“CCCU institutions desire to cultivate an understanding of total life stewardship in the lives of our students, and to encourage a generous spirit in them as they become our graduates – that they would invest their lives in service to Jesus Christ. Bill and Judy Pollard are living examples of that kind of generous spirit,” said Wheaton College President Philip G. Ryken during his presentation of the award to the Pollards. “All of us here tonight have benefited in one way or another from their generosity to the CCCU.”

Both graduates of Wheaton College, the Pollards supported a wide range of initiatives across more than a dozen CCCU institutions, as well as to the CCCU itself, ranging from capital projects to student scholarships to faculty chairs to online learning initiatives. They have also individually supported children of missionaries and other international students who needed financial help to go to college here in the United States, some of whom also lived in their home as they attended Wheaton College. Bill Pollard as also served as a faculty member and administrator at Wheaton, as well as the chair of the college’s Board of Trustees.

Their investments in other non-Christian institutions of higher education have also sought to benefit CCCU students, such as a scholarship fund at Northwestern Law School, Bill Pollard’s law school alma mater, which gives first preference to graduates of CCCU institutions to attend Northwestern.

Bill Pollard served for nearly three decades at the Fortune 500 company ServiceMaster, including serving as CEO, and was instrumental in direction corporate giving from ServiceMaster to support Christian higher education, including helping the CCCU to purchase and renovate the townhouse that is now its primary office building. ServiceMaster also opened up their corporate management training program to employees of CCCU institutions, providing hundreds of people with professional development, which Bill Pollard often led, at no cost.

“As Christians, we’re not called to withdraw, or to circle the wagons; we’re called to engage, and to continue to engage because it is the world, with all of its diversity, with all of its change, that God so loved when he sent his son,” Bill Pollard said. “I think one of the most important investments one could make would be to support the CCCU and its members in what they’re doing because there is the change; there is the hope for tomorrow, as part of the engagement [with the world] that is necessary.”

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The Council for Christian Colleges & Universities is a higher education association of 179 Christian institutions around the world. The 118 member campuses in North America are all regionally accredited, comprehensive colleges and universities with curricula rooted in the arts and sciences and whose missions are Christ-centered and rooted in the historic Christian faith. In addition, 61 affiliate campuses from 20 countries are part of the CCCU. The CCCU’s mission is to advance the cause of Christ-centered higher education and to help our institutions transform lives by faithfully relating scholarship and service to biblical truth. Visit www.cccu.org.

The Council for Christian Colleges & Universities offers 10 off-campus study programs, collectively branded BestSemester®, which expand learning opportunities for students from CCCU campuses and are designated as culture-shaping or culture-crossing programs. Culture-shaping BestSemester programs are: American Studies Program (Washington, D.C.), Contemporary Music Center (Nashville) and Los Angeles Film Studies Center (Los Angeles). Culture-crossing BestSemester programs are: Australia Studies Centre, China Studies Program, Latin American Studies Program, Middle East Studies Program, Oxford Summer Programme, Scholars’ Semester in Oxford and Uganda Studies Program. Visit www.bestsemester.com for program details.