The Christian in TCU: Marketing Our Religiosity

As a religiously affiliated private university, TCU has the power to dictate religious activity for students. Because of which Christian sect it finds itself connected to, stipulating thought or activity is the last thing on officials’ minds.

The University was founded by two members of the Disciples of Christ. This group of Christians, according to Director of Church Relations Janet Maykus, has never supported ‘group think’. She said that to DOC, faith and education are connected and allow the entire person to grow in themselves.

The church believes people are capable of independent thought. This leads the school, according to Maykus, to promote ideas like “community, ethical leadership and being global citizens.”

She said community is a distinctly Christian word and although the Church does not direct everything that happens on campus, it does promote certain Christian values

The University’s connection to the church leads some students like Katie Lewis to attend specifically because of degrees offered.

“Having a religion major was definitely a determining factor for the schools I chose,” Lewis said, “That’s specifically why I did not look at many of the public schools, because they did not have religion majors.”

Administration also offers an office of Religious and Spiritual Life in Jarvis Hall. Their services are available to students of all denominations.

Associate Chaplain Jeremy Albers said the office tries to make its presence known early on in students’ college careers.

He said, “Making sure that students are aware of the different services and opportunities that are provided to help them grow and learn in their faith and challenges is something we take very seriously. As soon as students start getting accepted to TCU we try to make ourselves available at all the orientations.”

Roughly 25 percent of the student population continually chose to not affiliate themselves with a religious community when applying to TCU, according to Admissions Board Chairman Jim Atwood. He says that with approximately 75 percent of students connecting themselves with a certain religious body, that means spirituality should be an important factor in determining admittance.

“Most of our students have some sort of religious background, some very intense, some very casual, in a community of faith,” Atwood said, “But religion plays a role in our students’ [lives] and whenever it’s important for our students, it’s important for us.”

TCU will move to the Big East Conference for athletic competition in 2012. Atwood said the continually increasing exposure to the East coast should help balance out the already booming influx of West coast students. He also said he did not think the changing demographic would alter the role of religion in admissions.

“[It] just depends on the individual. Some are exceedingly involved in religious activities,” he said, “Others are not. So I don’t think it’s going to have a great impact.”