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From a resolution unanimously adopted by the W&M Board of Visitors on Nov. 17, 2006
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Top National Universities Have Chapels And Display Crosses.
William and Mary and the Display of the Wren Cross Found to be in The Excellent Company of Colonial Colleges and Ivy League Universities.
The Path to Being Great and Diverse is Paved with the Display of a Cross in University Chapels
The following tables include the data collected in this survey. They are in Microsoft Excel format and require Microsoft Excel or the free Microsoft Excel viewer to view. The Microsoft Excel viewer is a free download avaiable at http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=c8378bf4-996c-4569-b547-75edbd03aaf0&displaylang=EN.
Colonial Chapels (Original | With Diversity Data)
Peer Schools According to Princeton Review (Original | With Diversity Data)
U.S. News and World Report's Top 34 Schools (Original | With Diversity Data)
Top State Unversities and Military Schools (Original | With Diversity Data)
A survey of the top universities, their chapels, the display of a cross and racial diversity demonstrates that the majority of top schools have chapels that display crosses and most have achieved much greater diversity than William & Mary. After examining more than 70 top colleges and universities, there is no correlation to the goal of diversity and the display of a cross in a chapel. Rather, the majority of top schools and 8 out of 9 Colonial Colleges have chapels and display crosses.
In an effort to bring pure facts to light, on the issue of the Wren Chapel at the College of William and Mary and the display of the Wren Cross therein, a survey of American universities, their chapels (as applicable), and displays of the cross in such chapels (as applicable) was conducted over the past two weeks. In addition, these universities were also surveyed for “diversity”, to determine whether there is a correlation between diversity levels and the display of a cross in a university chapel.
Scores of universities were selected. They include colleges and universities from several viewpoints:
- “Top National Universities” – as listed by the U.S. News & World Report, America’s Best Colleges 2007 (the top 34 are considered).
- “Colonial Colleges” - the most pure peer group of William and Mary;
- “Peer Schools” – as listed by Princeton Review as peer schools of William and Mary.
- “Top State Universities” -- all state universities were examined that were listed in the U.S. News & World Report’s Top National Universities, America’s Best Colleges 2007.
The results are summarized in the analysis below.
Of the Top National Universities, 26 have chapels. Of those 26, 20 display a cross. In most cases the cross is removable upon request. Most are used for secular events in addition to being chapels. This represents their tolerance for interfaith worship, college activities and secular events. The Top National Universities that display crosses in their chapels do not demonstrably believe that the mere tolerant policy of hosting or permitting secular events in such spaces is in conflict to the core purpose of such spaces, i.e., a chapel. In other words, just because these Top National Universities are tolerant of secular events, they do not demonstrably believe that the positive value of “tolerance” encompasses the idea that they need to erase or dilute the religious origins of their universities or the fact that a chapel is a chapel.
Of these Top National Universities, most (23) were markedly more diverse than William and Mary. Only two had less diversity than William and Mary. 9 were on or about William and Mary’s level of diversity. Clearly, these schools achieved their diversity through better policies than closeting their crosses, denying their heritage, or changing the nature of their chapels.
Of the 9 Colonial Colleges, 8 have chapels. Of these 8 schools, 8 display crosses. For purposes of this analysis, the College of William and Mary was included in the list of 8. Most of these crosses are removable or capable of being shielded by drawing a curtain, upon request. The eight Colonial Colleges are Harvard College , William and Mary, Yale University , Princeton University , University of Pennsylvania , Columbia University , Brown University and Dartmouth College . All of the other Colonial Colleges have measurably greater diversity than William and Mary. 8 of the Colonial Colleges were founded upon Protestant religious roots. None would have likely originally displayed crosses due to their reformation roots and anti-papist foundations. Some of them have chapels that are not original including Harvard and Rutgers . Yet, they do not have a compelling need to secularize their newer chapels or remove crosses that have become over time the fabric of their rich and diverse communities. Rutgers Kirkpatrick Chapel was built in 1873. Harvard’s Memorial Chapel was built in 1932. They have not needed to deny their Christian roots, closet their crosses, or reconfigure their chapels into secular rooms. All of these Colonial Colleges demonstrate reverent historic respect for their traditions while welcoming a vast variety of ethnic, racial, and religious diversity.
Among the Peer Schools, as listed by the Princeton Review results, 20 of the 21 have chapels. Of these schools, 15 display crosses. 8 have less diversity than William and Mary. 8 schools have approximately the same diversity as William and Mary. 5 of the Peers Schools have greater diversity than William and Mary. Of note is the fact that this list includes some small colleges such Davidson College , Gettysburg College , Bucknell College and University of Richmond , which are comparable to William and Mary.
The final group of schools examined was the Top State Universities. This group consists of 69 state universities and four U.S. service academies, since they are in fact public by virtue of their federal support. 28 of these schools have chapels. 19 display crosses. Some have religious stained glass windows displayed at all times. Most remove or cover the cross upon request. Most permit non-religious activities and secular events in their chapels. 38 schools have less diversity than William and Mary. 13 have comparable diversity to William and Mary. 18 schools have achieved greater diversity than William and Mary. It would appear that state universities have not achieved the diversity of their private peers. Most of these public school chapels permit secular use. They clearly do not see this tolerance of secular activity to be in conflict with the core purpose of a chapel. In summary, these Top State Schools do not demonstrably believe that the positive value of “tolerance” encompasses the idea that they need to erase or dilute the religious origins of their universities or the fact that a chapel is a chapel. 5 of these Top State Universities were originally private. Of these five, 4 have chapels and 3 display crosses. Three schools have achieved greater diversity and one has less diversity than William and Mary. William and Mary’s rich history includes today’s status of a “public institution” magically blended with its pre-colonial, colonial and historic “private institution” past. William and Mary is a hybrid, which most “public institutions” are not.
Among the Top National Universities , the Colonial Colleges , the Peer Schools , and the Top State Universities , there is not a relationship BETWEEN the welcoming of greater student body diversity and the holding of secular events in a chapel, AND any type of recognized need to remove crosses from chapels or changing the purpose of a chapel.
In removing the Wren Cross from Wren Chapel, William and Mary is indeed charting a course altogether at odds with the practice of most American universities.
- The leadership of William and Mary needs to recognize that William and Mary is more than a mere “Public School”. It is unique and has a heritage that is greater than most public universities. Two-thirds of William and Mary’s history was as a private institution. Is the William and Mary community prepared to close the book on this heritage? Denying our heritage, changing the purpose of our chapel on the dictate of a new revisionist outlook or yielding to intolerance only serves to divide us as a group with a common interest, William and Mary. Instead, the leadership of William and Mary should be building bridges, creating new financial partnerships, including the various voices of its community, motivating and energizing our assets among the faculty, students, alumni, Board of Visitors, administration, and staff.
- The leadership of William and Mary needs to recognize that removing the Wren Cross from display in Wren Chapel was a mistake in judgment. It is a mistake as a matter of theory, history, peer practice, common sense, and common decency.
- The leadership of William and Mary must recognize that the first essential and critical step to achieving greatness is financial strength and freedom. Sound financial resources are the core to achieving greater independence, securing our future as a great national university and taking our rightful place as a leader in education. It is recommended that a steering committee be formed among the administration, Board of Visitors, students, alumni and faculty to study the best practices of leading universities, whether they are public or private, so that William and Mary may take its proper place among the top schools in this country. William and Mary is at a pivotal point and the goals of the administrative office and development office need to be multiples of their current outlook, achieved sooner.
Diversity was examined based upon the figures, provided by schools, according to data compiled by U.S. News & World Report.