The Church of Christ demographic within ACU students is in a slow decline.
According to the Religion Headcount provided by Lisa McCarty, assistant director for the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment and the institutional researcher for the university, 54.6 percent of the student body claimed to be Church of Christ in 2009. As of fall this year, only 41.9 percent of students have declared a Church of Christ background.
Kevin Campbell, the chief enrollment officer, said religious diversity among the students is increasing.
“We see a tremendous amount of interest from families who have not grown up historically in the Church of Christ, but families who have strong Christian roots and are in strong families of faith who want their children or even students who want to be part of a community like this,” he said. “We are seeing a lot of interest from the broader Christian community in Texas.”
The other religious group represented among students enrolled include Baptist (14.7 percent), Christian Church (8 percent), Catholic (4.2 percent), Methodist (4.2 percent), “Community” Church (12.7 percent) and other (14.3 percent). According to the Religion Headcount, students who consider themselves a part of the Christian Church demographic have doubled from last fall, from 4.4 percent.
“Church of Christ is still our primary denomination here on campus,” Campbell said. “We recruit Church of Christ students very heavily and we are still very much involved where they are. We are still trying to maintain that very strong Church of Christ base. Church of Christ is very important to us; it is our heritage. But, at the same time, we are also excited that folks who have not grown up in the Church of Christ are very interested in ACU, and just the awareness and visibility of ACU is increasing and we think that is a great thing.”
ACU has seen a large decrease in students from the Church of Christ background in the 2013 freshman class. Only 28.8 percent of the incoming freshman class this year claims to be Church of Christ. Whereas 39.9 percent of the incoming freshman class of 2012 claimed to be Church of Christ, according to the Fall Freshman Cohort Profile, also provided by McCarty.
“Our institution is becoming more well-known and students are choosing ACU because of its product, because of the outcome, because of a particular academic discipline and because the way they feel when they visit campus, not just because it’s related with a particular denomination,” Campbell said.
He said ACU’s sister schools, such as Pepperdine, Harding, Oklahoma Christian, Faulkner and Lubbock Christian Universities, are also experiencing a slow decline in Church of Christ students.
“We all desire to maintain a very healthy strong Church of Christ base in our institutions,” said Campbell.
Regardless of its Church of Christ affiliation, he said ACU welcomes students from every denomination.
“What we want is for students to see that ACU is a faith-based institution, desire that for their college experience and are drawn to that,” said Campbell.