A Louisiana Baptist institution preparing to host a conference by creationist Ken Ham has announced a new name intended to boost its academic reputation and Christian witness.
Louisiana College is set to become Louisiana Christian University, the Baptist institution announced Nov. 3.
The new name will be formally presented to the Louisiana Baptist Convention on Nov. 16. Two other potential names — Louisiana University and Louisiana Baptist University — already were taken, the statement added.
“LCU is a Louisiana school, which is unapologetically Christian, whose expanded academic offerings raise it to a university level,” Louisiana Baptist Convention Executive Director Steve Horn said in the announcement.
The “unapologetically Christian” approach is currently on display on the college website with invitations to a weekly evangelism event and to a Nov. 10-11 Answers in Genesis conference led by Ham, founder of the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter. Ham’s teachings on creationism are widely believed to deny scientific facts as taught in high schools and universities across the world.
“Come and get equipped,” the Ham invitation reads. “Come attend a conference that will challenge you to think biblically, teach you how to defend your faith and help you confidently communicate the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
Louisiana College President Rick Brewer said the name change is designed to underscore the school’s history and faith.
“This is in keeping with our mission of being Christ-centered. It’s a logical move. We are not throwing away our past. We are recognizing this school has always been Christian,” Brewer said in a Nov. 3 announcement after approval of the rebranding by the school’s board of trustees.
The school was founded in 1906 in Pineville as a private Baptist college offering coeducational arts and sciences programs and is the successor of two previous Baptist schools in the state, Mount Lebanon University and Keatchie Female College. It is among a loose network of colleges and universities affiliated with state Baptist conventions that, in turn, affiliate with the Southern Baptist Convention.
One goal behind the name change is to boost the 1,250-student institution’s academic standing, said Cheryl Clark, provost and vice president of academic affairs.
The college offers dozens of undergraduate degrees and five masters programs, with a doctoral program planned for 2025.
“The move to university will increase our prominence and marketability nationally and internationally,” Clark said in the announcement. “Because university status is more widely understood by international, graduate, and non-traditional students, we will expand our recruitment opportunities.”
That in turn will tie into the school’s Baptist calling, she added. “Ultimately, we think that university status will strengthen our reputation and open new doors for us to connect more people with our Christian educational mission, our commitment to academic excellence, our dedication to outstanding teaching and student learning, and our focus on preparing students for lives of learning, leading and serving.”
Among its degree programs, the Baptist institution offers degrees in biology. That department’s website explains: “The biology department seeks to help create a community of learning and free inquiry, presenting a thorough academic program that recognizes Jesus Christ as the creator and sustainer of all life.”