Where is our Moral Compass?

by Billy Chandler
Opinion Editorial from President Jake B. Schrum as featured in the Bristol Herald Courier and Roanoke Times.

Typically, it is more customary for me to write about the importance of a faith-based, liberal arts education and its impact on making a difference in our world.  I’ll admit that I believe that a deep and informed faith coupled with a desire to obtain knowledge in the search for truth is the best combination for a person to lead a rich and full life.

While I still fully believe this, in thinking about America recently and its future, I ask this question - what has happened to our moral compass?

This is not about Republicans or Democrats, President Donald Trump or any other recent President, conservatives or liberals.  It’s about whether America and Americans can and should, still be seen as the most consistently moral and compassionate people on the planet.  If we are, and if we still deserve this attribute, then we are certainly sending mixed signals to our fellow human beings around the globe.

I believe there are many well-meaning people from all parts of the planet who truly wonder if America, and some of its citizens have lost their moral compass. 

Is it because they see the way we treat our friends around the globe?  Is it based on the way we treat each other at home, work and play? Some societies are judged simply by the way they treat their children.  Are we a community of liars and those who make swift decisions?  Whatever the reason, America appears to be losing its moral footing. As a former college president once told me, “What do we become if we establish a nation of intellectual giants, but become moral pygmies?”

Perhaps I am writing about a faith-based liberal arts education. Because this type of education encourages us to explore the facts about how humankind and this planet have survived for thousands of years, and it also suggests that an omnipotent God calls us to be kind, compassionate and moral. Graduates from these institutions understand diplomacy, truth, respect and honor, good vs. evil, servant leadership, volunteering and a commitment to their community to improve our time here on earth. Many of us know that we’re here to serve and impact the common good with our gifts. We need each other and we need to hold each other accountable to do the right thing. Let’s use that moral compass.

Wouldn’t that be a better path to make America great again?

Jake B. Schrum, a college and university administrator for more than four decades, is a nationally recognized leader in higher education and an outspoken proponent of liberal arts education. Since August 2013, he has served as president of Emory & Henry College, Southwest Virginia’s oldest higher education institution. He previously served as president of Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas for 13 years and as president of Texas Wesleyan University in Ft. Worth for nine years.

President Schrum received his B.A. from Southwestern. He earned his M.Div. from Yale Divinity School. He completed the Institute for Educational Management at Harvard University and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Southwestern.

He has served as national board chair for The Council for the Advancement and Support of Education and for the Educational and Institutional Insurance Administrators, as well as chair for the Associated Colleges of the South, Independent Colleges and Universities of Texas, and Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia. He has served on the boards of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the American Council on Education, the Council for Independent Colleges, the Association of Governing Boards’ Council of Presidents, and Agnes Scott College.

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  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/3580-emory-henry-names-next-mens-head-basketball"><picture class="lw_image"><source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/18,0,351,333/16033_jimmy-allen.rev.1717596457.webp 1x" data-origin="responsive"/><source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/18,0,351,333/16033_jimmy-allen.rev.1717596457.jpg 1x" data-origin="responsive"/><img src="/live/image/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/18,0,351,333/16033_jimmy-allen.rev.1717596457.jpg" alt="Jimmy Allen E&H Men's Basketball Coach" width="345" height="225" data-max-w="333" data-max-h="333" loading="lazy" data-optimized="true"/></picture></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/3580-emory-henry-names-next-mens-head-basketball">Emory & Henry Names Next Men’s Head Basketball Coach</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"><p> Emory & Henry Names Jimmy Allen Next Head Men’s Basketball Coach</p><a href="/live/news/3580-emory-henry-names-next-mens-head-basketball" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/3381-emory-henry-celebrates-community-and-alumni-at"><picture class="lw_image"><source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/15526_Founding-Day_3-21-24_0061.rev.1711373364.webp 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/15526_Founding-Day_3-21-24_0061.rev.1711373364.webp 3x" data-origin="responsive"/><source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/15526_Founding-Day_3-21-24_0061.rev.1711373364.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/15526_Founding-Day_3-21-24_0061.rev.1711373364.jpg 3x" data-origin="responsive"/><img src="/live/image/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/15526_Founding-Day_3-21-24_0061.rev.1711373364.jpg" alt="Emory & Henry faculty walking into the chapel." width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/15526_Founding-Day_3-21-24_0061.rev.1711373364.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/15526_Founding-Day_3-21-24_0061.rev.1711373364.jpg 3x" data-max-w="3200" data-max-h="2133" loading="lazy" data-optimized="true"/></picture></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/3381-emory-henry-celebrates-community-and-alumni-at">Emory & Henry Celebrates Community and Alumni at 187th Founding Day, Alumni Stephen and Jessica Callahan Founders of Tennessee Hills Distillery Served as Keynote</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"><p> The 187th annual Founding Day Convocation at Emory & Henry College was celebrated on Thursday, March 21, 2024. Each year, Founding Day is celebrated with a keynote speaker and awards ceremony honoring distinguished alumni and philanthropic members of the community.</p><a href="/live/news/3381-emory-henry-celebrates-community-and-alumni-at" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/3030-emory-henry-honored-as-an-affordable-college"><picture class="lw_image"><source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1450,815/14182_Fall_Drone_CoD.rev.1690559385.webp 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1450,815/14182_Fall_Drone_CoD.rev.1690559385.webp 3x" data-origin="responsive"/><source type="image/png" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1450,815/14182_Fall_Drone_CoD.rev.1690559385.png 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1450,815/14182_Fall_Drone_CoD.rev.1690559385.png 3x" data-origin="responsive"/><img src="/live/image/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1450,815/14182_Fall_Drone_CoD.rev.1690559385.png" alt="Recognized for exceptional value, Emory & Henry College stands out among its national peers in providing affordable education." width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1450,815/14182_Fall_Drone_CoD.rev.1690559385.png 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,1450,815/14182_Fall_Drone_CoD.rev.1690559385.png 3x" data-max-w="1450" data-max-h="815" loading="lazy" data-optimized="true"/></picture></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/3030-emory-henry-honored-as-an-affordable-college">Emory & Henry Honored as an Affordable College of Distinction</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"><p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Emory & Henry College has been awarded a prestigious distinction for its commitment to affordability compared to other institutions. The recognition comes from Colleges of Distinction, a resource that selects schools based on the quality and diversity of hands-on experiences rather than relying on traditional rankings.</span></p><a href="/live/news/3030-emory-henry-honored-as-an-affordable-college" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/2930-food-country-usa-named-exclusive-title-sponsor-of"><picture class="lw_image"><source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2134/13975_52461014078_8fb1fae3c6_o.rev.1684785247.webp 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2134/13975_52461014078_8fb1fae3c6_o.rev.1684785247.webp 3x" data-origin="responsive"/><source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2134/13975_52461014078_8fb1fae3c6_o.rev.1684785247.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2134/13975_52461014078_8fb1fae3c6_o.rev.1684785247.jpg 3x" data-origin="responsive"/><img src="/live/image/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2134/13975_52461014078_8fb1fae3c6_o.rev.1684785247.jpg" alt="" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2134/13975_52461014078_8fb1fae3c6_o.rev.1684785247.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2134/13975_52461014078_8fb1fae3c6_o.rev.1684785247.jpg 3x" data-max-w="3200" data-max-h="2134" loading="lazy" data-optimized="true"/></picture></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/2930-food-country-usa-named-exclusive-title-sponsor-of">Food Country USA Named Exclusive Title Sponsor of Broadcasts for Emory & Henry College Basketball and Football</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"><p> Broadcasts of Emory & Henry College basketball and football will be exclusively sponsored by Food Country USA on WEHC/WISE FM, College and Food Country officials announced today. This sponsorship will carry over to Emory & Henry’s video streaming partnership with FloSports on GoWasps.com as the official streaming service of the South Atlantic Conference.</p><a href="/live/news/2930-food-country-usa-named-exclusive-title-sponsor-of" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/3372-emory-henry-celebrates-ribbon-cutting-for-new"><picture class="lw_image"><source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/15496_HelenMatthewsLewis-WomensGenderCenter-RibbonCutting_3-16-24_017.rev.1710858492.webp 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/15496_HelenMatthewsLewis-WomensGenderCenter-RibbonCutting_3-16-24_017.rev.1710858492.webp 3x" data-origin="responsive"/><source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/15496_HelenMatthewsLewis-WomensGenderCenter-RibbonCutting_3-16-24_017.rev.1710858492.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/15496_HelenMatthewsLewis-WomensGenderCenter-RibbonCutting_3-16-24_017.rev.1710858492.jpg 3x" data-origin="responsive"/><img src="/live/image/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/15496_HelenMatthewsLewis-WomensGenderCenter-RibbonCutting_3-16-24_017.rev.1710858492.jpg" alt="Faculty, Staff and Community Members at Emory & Henry's Ribbon Cutting at the Helen Matthew's Lewis Women's & Gend..." width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/15496_HelenMatthewsLewis-WomensGenderCenter-RibbonCutting_3-16-24_017.rev.1710858492.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/15496_HelenMatthewsLewis-WomensGenderCenter-RibbonCutting_3-16-24_017.rev.1710858492.jpg 3x" data-max-w="3200" data-max-h="2133" loading="lazy" data-optimized="true"/></picture></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/3372-emory-henry-celebrates-ribbon-cutting-for-new">Emory & Henry Celebrates Ribbon-Cutting for New Women’s & Gender Center Honoring Helen Matthews Lewis</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"><p> Emory & Henry College proudly announced the grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony of the Helen Matthews Lewis Women’s & Gender Center, held on Saturday, March 16, at 1 p.m. The event occurred at the Damer House on the Emory campus.</p><a href="/live/news/3372-emory-henry-celebrates-ribbon-cutting-for-new" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/3184-historic-carriger-hall-transformed-emory-henry"><picture class="lw_image"><source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2134/14785_SchoolofBusiness-CarrigerHall0-RibbonCutting_Dedication_10-13-23_296_2.rev.1697818877.webp 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2134/14785_SchoolofBusiness-CarrigerHall0-RibbonCutting_Dedication_10-13-23_296_2.rev.1697818877.webp 3x" data-origin="responsive"/><source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2134/14785_SchoolofBusiness-CarrigerHall0-RibbonCutting_Dedication_10-13-23_296_2.rev.1697818877.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2134/14785_SchoolofBusiness-CarrigerHall0-RibbonCutting_Dedication_10-13-23_296_2.rev.1697818877.jpg 3x" data-origin="responsive"/><img src="/live/image/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2134/14785_SchoolofBusiness-CarrigerHall0-RibbonCutting_Dedication_10-13-23_296_2.rev.1697818877.jpg" alt="Ribbon Cutting for the newly renovated School of Business: E&H Board of Trustees Member George A. Whitley '77, Dr. Emmett P. Tra..." width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2134/14785_SchoolofBusiness-CarrigerHall0-RibbonCutting_Dedication_10-13-23_296_2.rev.1697818877.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2134/14785_SchoolofBusiness-CarrigerHall0-RibbonCutting_Dedication_10-13-23_296_2.rev.1697818877.jpg 3x" data-max-w="3200" data-max-h="2134" loading="lazy" data-optimized="true"/></picture></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/3184-historic-carriger-hall-transformed-emory-henry">Historic Carriger Hall Transformed: Emory & Henry College Celebrates the Grand Reopening of the School of Business</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"><p><span style="font-weight: 400;">Emory & Henry College proudly inaugurated its transformed historic landmark, Carriger Hall, as the new vibrant home of the School of Business in a special ribbon-cutting ceremony held on Friday, October 13, 2023. </span></p><a href="/live/news/3184-historic-carriger-hall-transformed-emory-henry" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/3568-376-students-recognized-for-spring-2024-deans-list"><picture class="lw_image"><source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/15919_emory-henry-college-deans-list-2024.rev.1715720135.webp 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/15919_emory-henry-college-deans-list-2024.rev.1715720135.webp 3x" data-origin="responsive"/><source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/15919_emory-henry-college-deans-list-2024.rev.1715720135.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/15919_emory-henry-college-deans-list-2024.rev.1715720135.jpg 3x" data-origin="responsive"/><img src="/live/image/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/15919_emory-henry-college-deans-list-2024.rev.1715720135.jpg" alt="Wiley Hall, Emory & Henry administration building with yellow flowers" width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/15919_emory-henry-college-deans-list-2024.rev.1715720135.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/15919_emory-henry-college-deans-list-2024.rev.1715720135.jpg 3x" data-max-w="3200" data-max-h="2133" loading="lazy" data-optimized="true"/></picture></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/3568-376-students-recognized-for-spring-2024-deans-list">376 Students Recognized for Spring 2024 Dean’s List</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"><p> Congratulations to the students who were recognized for their academic achievement in the spring 2024 Dean’s List. For inclusion on the Dean’s List, the student must be enrolled full-time and receive at least a 3.6 GPA for the semester.</p><a href="/live/news/3568-376-students-recognized-for-spring-2024-deans-list" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>
  • <div class="lw_news_image"><span class="lw_item_thumb"><a href="/live/news/3133-emory-henry-cuts-ribbon-on-newly-built"><picture class="lw_image"><source type="image/webp" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/14550_UniversityApartments-RibbonCutting-EH_9-12-23_351_5.rev.1694610443.webp 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/14550_UniversityApartments-RibbonCutting-EH_9-12-23_351_5.rev.1694610443.webp 3x" data-origin="responsive"/><source type="image/jpeg" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/14550_UniversityApartments-RibbonCutting-EH_9-12-23_351_5.rev.1694610443.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/14550_UniversityApartments-RibbonCutting-EH_9-12-23_351_5.rev.1694610443.jpg 3x" data-origin="responsive"/><img src="/live/image/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/14550_UniversityApartments-RibbonCutting-EH_9-12-23_351_5.rev.1694610443.jpg" alt=" Student resident advisors, current residents and administrators pose in front of the new University Apartments at Emory & Henry " width="345" height="225" srcset="/live/image/scale/2x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/14550_UniversityApartments-RibbonCutting-EH_9-12-23_351_5.rev.1694610443.jpg 2x, /live/image/scale/3x/gid/83/width/345/height/225/crop/1/src_region/0,0,3200,2133/14550_UniversityApartments-RibbonCutting-EH_9-12-23_351_5.rev.1694610443.jpg 3x" data-max-w="3200" data-max-h="2133" loading="lazy" data-optimized="true"/></picture></a></span></div><div class="lw_widget_text"><h4 class="lw_news_headline"><a href="/live/news/3133-emory-henry-cuts-ribbon-on-newly-built">Emory & Henry Cuts Ribbon on Newly Built University Apartments</a></h4><div class="lw_news_summary"><p><span style="font-weight: 400;">After welcoming more than 1,100 students to its Emory, Va. campus, Emory & Henry held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Tuesday, September 12, at University Apartments, its newest apartment-style living complex, adding 96 new beds to its inventory in the fall of 2023. After the ceremony, attendees had the opportunity to tour the new living spaces.</span></p><a href="/live/news/3133-emory-henry-cuts-ribbon-on-newly-built" class="link-with-arrow gold">Keep reading</a></div></div>