Interesting comparison of similar, conservative Christian scholars in Tennessee which have had very different enrollment trends in recent years:
Of course, schools often give out doctorates strategically in order to get endorsements from famous and influential people and, they hope, more student referrals.
Sounds like Bryan College has had much larger problems than anything a honorary doctorate might match. Believe me, I wish I saw a strong correlation in the story (that probably says something negative about me…), but I just didn’t.
I posed the title of the thread as a question instead of a statement because I wanted to word the title in such a way (an interesting way??) so that it might encourage discussion. [Yes, mine was a teaser headline, @cwhenderson. I admit it!] Personally speaking, I agree that enrollment trends at schools usually tend to be very complicated developments. Nevertheless, I know people who have gotten very angry at even their favoriate schools in response to all sorts of honorary doctorate selections.
I’ve known a lot of great people associated with Bryan College (both faculty and students.) I know that the school has hoped that “going all in” on Young Earth Creationism and people like Ken Ham would give them a brand identification which helps both enrollment and donations—but I’ve seen so many of such strategies not produce the results hoped for.
Of course, a growing problem has been schools which awarded an honorary doctorate and then some years later that person’s association with the school becomes a huge liability. (We probably can all name both Christian and non-Christians “celebrities” which have had that unfortunately loss of “cache.”)
Also, those of us from academic career backgrounds can probably think of people who received honorary doctorates from our institutions despite faculty opposition—but the administrations didn’t care what we thought (and we weren’t even consulted) because they were thinking in terms of branding, student recruitment, and donations.