LOUISVILLE - Forman Christian College (FCC), the crown jewel of Presbyterian educational mission in Pakistan, is back in the hands of the Christian community after 31 years of government control.
After intensive negotiations with four different governments over nine years, the formal papers were signed on March 18, officially returning the college to the management of the Presbyterian Church (USA).
The negotiations were led by S. David Stoner, a former executive director of the General Assembly Council (GAC). Salim Bhatti, the PC(USA)'s property resource coordinator in Pakistan, represented the denomination at the signing ceremony.
The college's management will be supervised by the FCC Board of Governors, whose members are nominated by various Christian communities in Pakistan. That board has responsibility for administrative and financial management of the college under a memorandum of understanding approved last year by the board and the GAC.
Peter Armacost, president emeritus of Eckerd College in Florida, assumed the office of Principal of Forman Christian College on March 20. He and his wife, Mary Linda Merriam Armacost, have been living on the college campus in Lahore since January.
Armacost and the FC board of governors have been working on a management plan for several months. Their vision "is to have Forman Christian College become one of the leading colleges on the sub-continent and to be widely recognized as such."
Forman's longstanding mission is to prepare students for ethical and responsible leadership in Pakistan and the wider world. It tries to turn out people who exemplify the college motto: "By love, serve one another."
The tasks of campus renovation and academic rejuvenation are daunting. The cost of restoring the beauty and functionality of campus facilities is estimated at nearly $5 million.
Stoner and Armacost said the board hopes to attract Ph.D. professors from the western world who will come to Lahore for a semester or two - many of them while on sabbatical leaves from their colleges or serving as Volunteers in Mission. The college will need their help in revamping the method of instruction on campus and developing a four-year degree program that meets U.S. accreditation standards.
The transition won't be easy. Armacost and his colleagues, including Christy Munir, the FCC academic dean who was severely injured in an attack on the Christian Church in Islamabad a year ago, are seeking assistance in identifying candidates for faculty and consulting positions. They also are soliciting financial support.
Armacost said the FCC community would appreciate prayers, and hopes Presbyterian congregations will include Forman Christian College in "minute for mission" observances during worship.
Financial contributions can be sent to FC College, ECO #051819, PCUSA Central Receiving, Box 300, Louisville, KY 40289.
For more information, contact Stoner by mail at PO Box 24, Craftsbury Common, VT, 05827; by phone at 802-586-6913; by fax at 802-586-9904; or by email at [email protected]
By Albert H. Lee