Dear Trustees of Grove City College,
In 1964, Ronald Reagan electrified conservatives when he delivered his famous “A Time for Choosing” speech. There, he challenged Americans, reminding us that we had a “rendezvous with destiny” provided that we chose leaders who remained committed to preserving and advancing the freedoms, heritage, and values that had made our nation “the last best hope for man on earth.”
Over the last 15 months or so, Grove City College has faced its own time for choosing. Just as Reagan remained optimistic that Americans would choose wisely, we have long remained confident that the College’s leaders would ensure that it continues to uphold the values that attracted us to it in the first place. As parents, students, and alumni, we chose Grove City College because of what it stands for—its commitment to a Biblical worldview, its conservative values, its rigorous liberal arts education, and its affordability to families of modest means. And we admired the College because we knew it was serious about its convictions. Why? Because it did what few—before or since—were willing to do: stand up to the federal government and reject the entanglement and control that comes with federal funding.
So when we saw the College we loved and admired begin to drift from its heritage, we grew concerned. For the choices before the College were and remain stark. Will it remain on the straight and narrow, faithful to the Biblical worldview and conservative principles that have long been its trademark? Or will it join so many other institutions on the broad way by accommodating, embracing, and ultimately celebrating left-wing ideologies like critical race theory, its offshoots, and the LGBTQ agenda?
Sadly, despite our fervent hopes, President McNulty has consistently chosen poorly, adopting a “punch right, coddle left” mentality. It began in 2020, when a small group of activist alumni, who clearly spurn the College’s heritage and values, unfairly attacked College faculty and demanded that the College move dramatically left. President McNulty said nothing publicly to defend the College, its faculty, or its values. This was disappointing, seeing as President Arnn vigorously defended Hillsdale College against similar attacks. More dispiriting was how President McNulty quietly capitulated to most of the leftist demands.
Still, we felt certain that when President McNulty heard privately from parents, students, and alumni who cherished the College’s heritage and values, he would correct this leftward drift. Sadly, we were wrong.
Even so, we hoped that raising our concerns publicly would spark change, especially when the College realized how many of its most faithful constituents shared these concerns. So in 2021, we circulated a petition that 476 people signed, with many of us providing heartfelt comments of concern about the College’s drift. Suddenly, President McNulty found his voice, releasing a statement that accused us of trafficking in “misimpressions, partial reports, hearsay, rumors, and other unreliable information;” chastised us for allegedly exchanging Christian virtue for cancel culture; and falsely claimed that we never privately contacted the College with our concerns. He even declared critical race theory had “no intellectual home at Grove City College.”
In sharp contrast with President McNulty’s perfunctory investigation, this Board launched a careful and thorough inquiry into the matter in February 2022. The resulting April 2022 report revealed that critical race theory and its ideological cousins had in fact infiltrated numerous aspects of campus life. You then courageously explained why these ideologies are incompatible with a Biblical worldview and the College’s values. After taking several remedial steps on your own, you charged President McNulty with the responsibility of ensuring that all faculty and staff were in alignment with the mission, values, and worldview you had just outlined. This was the reaction for which we had prayed, and we hoped it would result in concrete changes on campus.
Once again, President McNulty faced a time for choosing. Once again, he chose poorly. He refused to fire anyone responsible for the rise of critical race theory and LGBTQ advocacy on campus. Rather, he retained and even promoted them. The two who left voluntarily received heroes’ sendoffs. He had one job; he failed to do it.
Last fall, it also became clear that President McNulty has chosen poorly for a long time. Under his leadership, the College lost its status as a national liberal arts institution. The percentage of arts and sciences degrees plummeted, tuition increases outpaced inflation, enrollment figures fell, and the College abandoned its rigorous approach to admissions by remaining test-optional. Spiritually and academically, President McNulty’s leadership has hollowed out the College.
Meanwhile, the cover-up by key College officials continues apace. During a public on-campus event, Dr. Kengor cherry-picked the Board’s report to give the College a clean bill of health. Echoing his obfuscation prior to the Board’s report, Dr. Trueman attacked an author for briefly noting that mission drift had occurred at Grove City, falsely equating our petition with the leftist 2020 petition. In an academic paper distributed to the full faculty, Dean Kemeny attempted to rewrite the College’s history, ludicrously painting Isaac Ketler as a progressive. Joining the effort, Assistant Dean Hosack implied that the College was not intentionally Christian until President McNulty arrived, something that would be news to President MacKenzie and countless other College leaders through the years. Both papers will be chapters in a book edited by another figure central to the rise of wokeness on campus, Chaplain Don Opitz. Most stunningly, it appears that the McNulty administration even censored The Collegian’s coverage of our petition, which resulted in a puff piece bereft of serious analysis or even other perspectives. All of this—from the continued cover-up to the historical revisionism—demonstrates a concerted effort to undermine the Board’s findings, vison, and directives, an effort empowered by President McNulty.
As a result, this Board faced its own time for choosing. Would you act to demonstrate that you were serious when you explained how critical race theory and its offshoots are incompatible with the College’s worldview and values? Or would you allow President McNulty effectively to ignore and thus subvert your directives? Would you allow his behavior to foster a culture of contempt for the Board and your vision for the College? We and over 700 College constituents hoped you would choose wisely so the College could regain its position as a campus set on a hill, a distinctive institution that combined a Biblical worldview with a rigorous liberal arts education and affordable tuition. Such an institution would draw countless families nationwide, families who want an alternative to the leftist echo chamber that dominates higher education.
Sadly, you chose to retain President McNulty, despite his failure to preserve the spiritual, moral, and academic reputation of the College; despite his failure to perpetuate the College’s commitment to financial stewardship; and despite his failure to comply with your publicly stated directives.
Now, we face our own time for choosing. We have repeatedly appealed to the College and to you, explaining why a course correction is needed. It is now clear that President McNulty will not stop the erosion of the College’s historic mission and identity, and it appears you are unwilling to intervene. Further entreaty—asking the College to get serious once again about advancing the worldview and values it advertises—would be futile. Indeed, never before in the College’s history have so many spent so long asking for something so simple.
We have petitioned and pleaded, you have responded with inaction, so now we must go. As we go, we remain committed to holding this institution accountable in our individual spheres of influence. We can no longer support the College. We will not fund your decline and drift. We can no longer recommend the College. We will not deceive those who want a Biblically grounded education into thinking that you offer one. To be sure, the current students and parents among us face difficult choices for future semesters. Some have already chosen to transfer to other institutions, and others may do likewise because the College is abandoning the Biblical worldview and conservative values they wanted for themselves and their students.
We are grieved that this day has come. We have prayed and labored long to prevent it. What began “‘mid the pines” is an ideal timeless and true, one that commands our loyalty and service. But what drew us to the College has long since departed. As a matter of personal stewardship and accountability to God, we must now direct our time, talent, and treasure to serious and authentic Christian institutions. So we must go elsewhere until the College truly embodies the values it advertises. We will always harbor a hope for what might one day be—the destiny the College could enjoy if it comes to its senses, repents, and again becomes serious about its values and convictions. But for now, we must get about building the historic Grove City College model wherever that vision finds resonance.
“Staunch and true,”
The Save Grove City Coalition