Saturday, August 8, 2009

For The First Time Since 1846, Nauvoo University Opens Its Doors, And Not Under LDS Ownership

According to a press release published by PRNewswire, Nauvoo University will resume operations for the 2009-10 school year after a 163-year hiatus. But it will not be owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The school's website is available HERE. Additional stories can be read at Meridian Magazine and from the Deseret News in June 2008, which also referred to a similar postsecondary school called Desert Valley Academy to be established in the Moapa Valley in Southern Nevada.

The university has been reorganized as an independent coeducational institution that adheres to LDS standards and principles but is not owned, operated, funded, or supported by the LDS Church. The governing body of Nauvoo University will be a Board of Trustees. Admission is open to students of all faiths who meet the following standards: morality and honesty, abstinence from alcohol and tobacco, modest dress and ecclesiastical endorsement. Enrollment is open to everyone.

Students at Nauvoo University will be co-registered as students of NU and at Carl Sandburg College (CSC) in Galesburg, IL, which will allow them to transfer credits and apply for scholarships through CSC. Tuition for 2009-2010 is $2,145 per semester, relatively low as faculty and staff have volunteered to serve without pay so that the university may be restored. The school will use the Manor House of the Nauvoo Family Inn and Suites to house students and staff until it begins construction on a new campus.

Beginning with a faculty of only 16 and an anticipated initial student population of 50, the university plans to start with a small program and have it grow step by step. The first year they will offer classes that will be transferrable to other institutions. Afterwards, they seek to evolve into a community college offering associate degrees in General Education, Music and History, but ultimately becoming a fully-accredited 4-year university offering bachelors degrees.

The mission of Nauvoo University was originally spelled out by the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1841. At the time, he stated, "The University of the City of Nauvoo will enable us to teach our children wisdom -- to instruct them in all knowledge, and learning, in the Arts, Sciences and Learned Professions. We hope to make this institution one of the great lights of the world, and by and through it, to diffuse that kind of knowledge which will be of practical utility, and for the public good, and also for private and individual happiness." Nauvoo University intends to replicate this threefold mission.

Nauvoo University was initially chartered in 1840 by the Illinois State Legislature and began operation in 1841. It became dormant in 1846 after the main body of Latter-day Saints emigrated to Utah. Nauvoo never really recovered from its salad days as an LDS population center during the 1840s, and still has a population of only 1,100. However, it is slowly returning to prominence, particularly with the opening of the second Nauvoo Temple in 2002. You can read more about the history of Nauvoo from Wikipedia HERE, and from the Community of Christ's perspective HERE.

Another similar college is Southern Virginia University in Buena Vista, Va., which was formed by a private group of Latter-day Saint businessmen and educators based on the values and standards at BYU. It opened its doors in 1996 with 76 students and has since grown to attract several hundred per year.

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