A well-known Boston businessman is planning to open a new four-year college in the east coast city that will focus on conservative Christian values.
Investment fund manager Finny Kuruvilla has said that he plans to fund Sattler College with $30 million of his own money. The Harvard-educated Kuruvilla will utilize online learning platforms and is set to offer enrolment at a fee of $9,000 – a fraction of the money that many private colleges are now charging their cash-strapped students.
Watch Finny talk more about the whole idea of revamping Christian education below:
“We are 80% less cost than the average private school in America,” Kuruvilla said in a video posted to the Sattler YouTube channel.
Hit the Sattler website and you are greeted with a header that reads: “First 30 accepted applicants receive full funding for 1st year tuition. Apply here.”
Kuruvilla is a regular preacher at a small church called Followers of the Way in Medford, MA. He believes that education must become more about the formation of good character, rather than simply the acquisition of knowledge.
“The whole notion of education has become generally confined to academic thought, not so much to developing of the whole person, character, and integrity,” he told the Boston Globe. “I think that’s a great tragedy.”
Even at Harvard, where Finny earned a PHD, he said students were taking certain classes because they were deemed “easy.” In contrast, he aims to make education at Sattler, named after a 16th-century Christian martyr, both rigorous and spiritually formative.
The school’s stated mission is to “prepare students to serve Christ, the church, and the world.”
Speaking at a recent conference, Finny gave some of his background and explained some of the key issues facing Christian education:
“I went to Caltech for college. When I was in college I was a student leader with Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. I also worked part-time for World Vision and I also worked for Christian radio,” Finny said.
I graduated and moved to Harvard Med school. While I was at Harvard, I lived in the undergraduate dorms and helped mentor undergrads. I saw all the difficulties, struggles and challenges that college students have.
70-80% are losing their faith by the time they are in their 20’s. But even those who held on, I was very disappointed in the quality of their faith.”
Finny also explained that a recent study indicated that just 1% of faculty at Harvard would class themselves as “born again Christians.”
Kuruvilla believes something radical must be done to reform the Christian education process.
“Why are we sending our young people into these broken models and watching this slow-moving train wreck happen? That was the inspiration,” he said.
The Boston-based investor also described how Sattler will be a place where students will be taught apologetics, Biblical history and language in order to be “grounded in the word of God.”
Spiritual and character formation will also be a compulsory element of the college. “Our students have to go through a four-year discipleship program where, in small groups, they are developed in areas like their prayer life, fellowship, evangelism, the ability to walk in holiness.”
Sattler is already taking applicants and has reportedly had a huge amount of interest.
Ohio native Austin Lapp is concerned about the number of young people losing their faith after heading off to college and was looking for an alternative educational option that would both strengthen his faith and challenge him academically.
“I had to ask myself how will four years in a secular school affect my character and my worldview and my faith, my relationship with Jesus,” he told the Globe.
Another prospective student explained the reason for his interest, adding: “It’s a Christian community, it’s a Christian atmosphere, and there is to some extent safety in that.”
The college is aiming to start with just three faculty and around 25 students, with the ultimate goal of enrolling 300. Whilst educators will teach some core courses in biblical languages and religious history, many of the academic courses offered will be taken online.
Students will be able to choose from five majors: business, computer science, human biology, biblical and religious studies, and history.
Sattler is one of just four new colleges that have been approved in Massachusets over the past five years.