At first, it seems rather odd that a little institution like ours should be called a university. After all, even older, bigger institutions in the States are not universities. For instance, our son studies at Westmont College, which is (intentionally) not a university. Why then would the PIBC board vote to rename our school Pacific Islands University? Actually, the answer to the question lies in the story of what's happening way out here in this part of the world.
A university implies that there are several colleges within its overall program. No matter how big or small, when a school creates different colleges, the overall school becomes a university. Our board's decision to do so reflects growth in vision. Initially, PIBC was founded to train Micronesians for pastoral ministry, thus we have always offered one degree: the B.A. in Bible. Later, when PIBC was accredited, students with other career intentions flocked to the school and now outnumber pastoral-minded students probably 10 to 1. Most of our students want to go back to their islands and teach or work in government, for which a degree in Bible is not the most fitting. Recognizing this, a team from the college has been carefully putting together a new program for a degree in liberal arts (with a minor in Bible), which will become a yet-to-be-named college for liberal arts. Those desiring church-oriented ministry will continue to study toward their B.A. in Bible through Pacific Islands Bible College. However, I am pleased to announce that the first "college" officially underneath the banner is "Pacific Islands Evangelical Seminary," headed by a rather odd fellow hailing from California. This graduate school is the fusion of an increased awareness of the need for seminary-level training in Micronesia and the original vision to train Micronesians for pastoral ministry.
So don't be surprised when, starting this summer, the change goes into effect and we start referring to our little island college as a university, and our fledgling graduate program as an official seminary. So, what's in a name? In this case, three colleges are in a name.
Here is our president, Dave Owen, holding the letter he received from our accrediting agency informing PIBC that an institutional name change has been approved. Pacific Islands Bible College will become Pacific Islands University effective July 1st.