chapter  3
26 Pages

The Search for Purpose as Institutional Revitalization

Indeed, the change processes at LeMoyne-Owen, Olivet, and Tusculum can best be understood as socio-cultural movements-collective efforts to remake institutional life. Although secular, these movements, founded to promote a specific vision or ideal, have much in common with religious revivals. In these cases, the pursuit of institutional purpose resulted in the creation of organizational belief systems-ideologies that engendered a

powerful affective response among certain members of these communities, a response maintained as much by faith as by reason. Like a revival, the phenomenon influenced these campuses in unexpected and idiosyncratic ways. Some became true believers while others remained agnostic. The movements reshaped these institutions, but they were not without cost: What was a refining fire to the faithful resulted in some skeptics being burned at the stake. Despite the extraordinary progress made at these institutions programmatically (e.g., redesigning their curricula and implementing new policies), the most salient outcome was the creation of a compelling sense of purpose, which formed the foundation of an institutional ideology-a complex and interrelated sets of beliefs that gave a sense of meaning to members of these communities.