According to our mission, the foundational purpose of all educational programs is “to develop within the students knowledge, appreciation, understanding, ability, and skills which will prepare them for responsible Christian living in a complex world.”
In order to honor that mission, we strive to nurture each individual student holistically, placing a premium on faculty and staff involvement both inside and outside the classroom.
As part of our broader mission of preparing students for responsible living, Lee takes seriously the task of guiding students to integrate faith and vocation through the practice of ethical action, redemptive service, and responsible citizenship in the church, community, and the world. We have placed further emphasis on its commitment to these core values by making them the focus of our 5-year Quality Enhancement Plan.
Knowing who we are in Christ (faith) leads us to consider what we are to do for Him (vocation). Our vocation or calling can then be defined as a two-part response to our faith: primarily, we are called into a direct restorative personal relationship with God through Christ; secondarily we are called to advance Christ’s kingdom and participate in the healing of all creation by cultivating and using our individual abilities, skills, and talents for His purposes.
As redeemed people who have been made citizens of God’s kingdom, our first responsibility is to love God with all that we have and are, and secondly, to love our neighbors as ourselves by using our resources, talents, abilities, skills, passions, and energies to serve God and other people, and to care for all of God’s creation, in general, because He made us stewards of the world and of all the creatures in it.
Living as God calls us to live results in works that manifest an uncompromised commitment to the sacredness of human life (regardless of its location on the globe) and to justice, the provision of all that is needed for creation’s flourishing.
Redemptive service is an expression of ethical action that recognizes the brokenness of the fallen world and engages in labor (under the inspiration and empowerment of, and in partnership with, the Holy Spirit) for its divinely ordained healing and renewal. Therefore, redemptive service not only carries out benevolent intervention on behalf of the needy, but it also seeks to identify and address the causes of sociopolitical and economic deprivation, and tirelessly labors to eradicate systemic social evils.
Lee’s core values are actualized in various campus experiences, such as First-Year Seminar, Global Perspectives, and Service-Learning.
Lee has required a first-year seminar for more than three decades. It is taught by Lee’s premier faculty, and the roster of teachers includes vice presidents, deans, and department chairs, as well as excellent teachers who serve full-time in the classroom. The textbook for the course is written by Lee faculty and is frequently revised to keep it relevant to the needs of first-year students. Each class has two peer leaders, juniors, and seniors who provide positive role models for first-year students. Class sizes are small, usually under 20 students, and a budget allotment allows faculty to plan a social event for each class. Students in the freshman seminar participate in a service project as part of their introduction to Lee’s service commitment.
Freshman seminar students remain as a cohort into their second semester. Two other courses also serve to introduce students to key components of Lee’s institutional culture, Global Perspectives Seminar, and Biblical and Theological Foundations for Benevolence.
As evidence of our commitment to preparing students for global interdependence, Lee University added the cross-cultural requirement in 1997, and now more than 90 percent of Lee students study abroad. Each year, 25 to 30 trips are offered by Lee faculty, in addition to international trips planned by choirs and teams, missions trips, and international internships. Nearly 700 Lee students and 40 faculty members travel outside the country every year. Open Doors has consistently ranked Lee among the top 20 institutions for percentage of students who study abroad, and Global Perspectives, the institutional title given to the cross-cultural requirement, is a deep and rich part of the institution’s culture.
Service-learning was added to the curriculum in 2002 with funding from a Lazarus Foundation Grant that allowed Lee to create the Leonard Center, the service-learning hub. Lee students do more than 74,000 hours of service every year, and Lee has been on the President’s Honor Roll for Service every year since the inception of the award in 2006. Students may complete their service requirement through service-embedded or serviced-enhanced courses, departmental service projects, or service coordinated through the Leonard Center outside the curriculum. A central goal of service-learning is for students to learn how to use their academic knowledge to help others flourish and to address the roots of systemic problems.