Shared Presbyterian Heritage
Grounded in Faith. Driven by Discovery.
Incorporated in 1995, the Association of Presbyterian Colleges and Universities (APCU) is an independent, not-for-profit organization dedicated to the support and advancement of colleges and universities that maintain a historical affiliation to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Our 54 member institutions have found 54 distinct ways to build on their Presbyterian heritage as they seek to impact their students (and the world) in remarkable ways. Making the most of a Presbyterian affiliation »
A Well-Rounded Education
Based on our commitment to make a college education available to all who seek it, over 90% of students annually receive financial aid to help offset educational expenses. Over $1.6 billion was awarded to students at APCU schools last year. This aid helps keep the average cost of attendance across our schools well below $20,000 per year.
In addition, the Presbyterian Church (USA) also provides grant, loan and scholarship assistance to college students. For more information about these resources, visit the Financial Aid for Service page on the PCUSA website.
APCU member schools are passionate about fostering learning environments that value and empower learners of all backgrounds.
- In the past year, more than half of APCU students were first-generation college students.
- Nearly half are from lower-income “Pell Grant-eligible” families and 36% of the students are from underrepresented minority groups.
- Six of our APCU member schools are considered “majority minority” institutions, meaning that over half of the students being served are students of color.
Faiths of All Kinds
Social and faith climates at APCU schools span across the spectrum from very conservative to very progressive. The most common faith tradition cited by students is “none.” On average, only 4% of the students on APCU campuses identify as Presbyterian. In addition to Roman Catholic and a range of Protestant denominations, many of our campuses serve a significant number of Jewish, Muslim, and Hindu students.
Supporting Member Schools
On behalf of its membership, the APCU:
- Advocates the importance of higher education within/across the agencies of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
- Serves as a resource on market trends, institutional advancement strategy, church doctrine, and legislative activity.
- Assists presidents in the development of strategies, models, and tactics that advance institutional missions.
- Creates/maintains strategic partnerships that enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of member institutions.
- Administers programs and services that strengthen and distinguish member institutions.
Give to the APCU
If you would like to support the work of the APCU, just click the button below. You can designate how your gift should be used:
- The Fund for Presbyterian Higher Education: This is an endowment that will eventually provide grants and scholarships to Presbyterian students interested in attending an APCU member institution.
- The Presbyterian Leadership Institute: The Institute is open to faculty, staff and administrators who are interested in pursuing a leadership position at an APCU school. The Institute provide leadership development programming as well as networking opportunities.
- The Presbyterian College Chaplains’ Fund: This fund supports continuing education and professional development for chaplains serving at Presbyterian institutions and for Presbyterian chaplains serving any institution of higher education.
- The Tahoe Semester Support Program. In order to make the Tahoe Semester accessible to all students, regardless of socioeconomic circumstances, the APCU maintains a fund to help cover participation costs for students with financial need.
The APCU is governed by a board of directors consisting of presidents from 12 member institutions, the president of the Presbyterian College Chaplains Association (PCCA), the executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, and the executive director of the APCU. Board members serve three-year terms which can be extended for an additional three years. In 2016, the APCU expanded its membership to include chaplains who are members of the PCCA. This was done to strengthen the relationship between the APCU and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and to assist APCU members with the development of an appropriate spiritual/faith climate on their respective campuses. While the work being done by the PCCA is fairly independent from the work being done by the APCU, the chaplains and presidents meet every three years to discuss opportunities and challenges associated with our Presbyterian-relatedness and the role of spirituality and faith across our campuses.
The presidents of APCU member schools serve as institutional representatives and have the authority to vote on behalf of their respective schools at an annual Members’ Meeting. The Members’ Meeting takes place in the context of an annual Presidents’ Retreat which is usually held in March. The work of the APCU is supported primarily from annual dues paid by member institutions. Dues are based on a formula that considers each institution’s full-time enrollment, annual operating budget, and endowment. Additional funding comes from APCU strategic partners (vendors), foundations, and special solicitations in support of specific APCU projects.
The APCU maintains a renewable covenant relationship with the Presbyterian Mission Agency (PMA) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). This covenant defines how the APCU and the PMA will support each other to further the mission of APCU member institutions and the church’s historical commitment to higher education. For a copy of the covenant, contact the APCU office.
In addition, most APCU member institutions maintain independent covenants with an agency of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), such as a synod or presbytery, or with the APCU. These covenants, which express mutual support, vary widely and typically have a 10-year duration. One excellent example can be found on the Eckerd College website.
The Presbyterian commitment to higher education can be traced back to the Protestant Reformation in 16th century Europe, and specifically to the theologian John Calvin. Trained as a lawyer, Calvin placed great emphasis on the importance of education as a vehicle for reforming the church. In addition to laying the foundation for what would eventually become the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), he also established the Geneva Academy in Switzerland to educate the poor in the liberal arts and sciences. The Academy would later evolve into the University of Geneva.
In the United States, the Presbyterian emphasis on higher education dates to the early 1700s and the founding of the College of New Jersey, later to become Princeton University. Presbyterian missionaries and pastors continued to spread across the emerging nation establishing churches, schools and colleges. By the start of the Civil War, Presbyterians had founded over a fourth of all the colleges in the United States.
Today, 56 colleges and universities continue to emphasize their historical relationship with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) through membership in the APCU. These institutions are, and always have been, a diverse group. However, they are bound by a shared commitment to learning, faith, and service; and by the value they place on connections to each other, the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and the world—honoring the dignity and worth of every person.
This order is important.
We are schools, not churches, and our primary mission is education. Therefore, learning comes first. Nevertheless, as church-related institutions we endeavor to educate whole people for the whole world. As a result, we strive to graduate students who are not only academically well-prepared, but also spiritually and socially mature participants in the religious and civic communities of which they are a part.
We value our relationships with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and with each other. We are not, and do not wish to be, identical institutions, yet we appreciate our common connections and commitments. We benefit from our mutual relationships and are grateful for the historic and ongoing support of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)—which we are committed to maintaining.
Our connection to the world is both social and environmental. We seek to serve the whole world through our service to each student. We understand ourselves to be part of a global community of teaching, learning, and inquiry. We also work to exhibit, embody and encourage environmental responsibility on our campuses and beyond. As was stated above, we strive to educate whole people for the whole world.
Our efforts to live out our commitment to learning, faith, service, and connection take place in the context of our ongoing and pervasive commitment to honor the dignity and worth of each and every person. Our schools are resources and instruments through which the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) serves the world as we serve each of our students in all their magnificent variety and particularity!
Adapted from a February 2013 statement by The Presbyterian College Chaplains Association
Jeffrey E. Arnold | Executive Director
Jeff has been the executive director of the APCU since April 2015, previously serving as the vice president for business strategy at Ruffalo Noel Levitz, a higher education marketing services firm. In a career spanning more than 30 years, Jeff has also served as chief financial officer for 422 Group/Admissions Lab, a technology and consulting firm focused on enrollment management, as the executive director for higher education marketing at The College Board, and as a senior administrator at several universities. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Duquesne University and a Master’s of Education in adult and continuing education from The Pennsylvania State University. An ordained ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Jeff is a member of Johns Creek Presbyterian Church in Johns Creek, Georgia.
Janna Wofford | Operations Manager
Janna joined the APCU staff in June 2015. She previously served as the office manager for the Atlanta office of Ruffalo Noel Levitz. Prior to that, Janna was the office administrator and human resources manager for 422 Group/Admissions Lab. She has a bachelor’s degree from McMurry University and a master’s degree from the Teachers College at Columbia University.
Association of Presbyterian Colleges and Universities
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141 E College Avenue
Decatur, Georgia 30030