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Welcome to the Buechner Institute

Programming 2014-2015

The Buechner Institute deeply mourns the loss of its director, W. Dale Brown. This year's programming will continue as scheduled to honor Dale's important vision.

You're most welcome at all our events.  Do join us. Full details here or visit our "Schedule" page. 


Reflections on Andrew Delbanco

Andrew Delbanco visited the Buechner Institute on December 4.  Governing Board member Jonathan C. Kiser reflects on Delbanco's recent book, College: What It Was, Is, And Should Be.

A Generous Life

Having read several of Andrew Delbanco's books (his biography of Herman Melville is quite fine), I was excited to take up his latest work, College: What It Was, Is, And Should Be. Being a fairly recent graduate myself, I was interested to read his assessment of the current institutions of higher learning. Near the end of College, Delbanco writes, "I have tried to tell a story with a beginning, a middle,...but no end." The "story" related in this book is that of the American College, and it continues on today. Delbanco succinctly, yet thoroughly, tells the history of colleges, and later universities, over the course of his work, but College is not a straight history or even a biography of an institution. As the title suggests, this book makes several cases for what college "...Should Be".  Delbanco does not only play the role of historian, but also that of the activist, calling his readers to consider what makes the American College something we should "preserve and protect." These two roles, historian and activist, meet in what might be the deepest essential element of the college that should be embraced and nurtured in the modern college, the idea that, "More than achieving the competence to solve problems and perform complex tasks, education means attaining and sustaining curiosity and humility."

This concept, Delbanco also refers to it as "a more generous view of life," is introduced early in the book as a foundational principle of the early college founders. College is a good not for what "it does for society in economic terms," writes Delbanco, "but what it can do for the individuals, in both calculable and incalculable ways." The students at college are meant to engage with their peers and superiors and gain from the various views and challenges they bring with them. The college life is not to be a self-centered life, but a life enriched by those around you. Implied here is the acknowledgment that the individual has something to learn. The student must be humble enough to profess ignorance, and the teacher humble enough to help them learn. This is, as Delbanco writes, "a delicate and difficult art." But it is needed to help the educated from all social classes to embrace "the meaningful life," he writes later on "...where they discover that self-interest need not be at odds with concern for one another."   

As the institution's narrative progresses, the elements of the college shift, away from Christianity and away from the liberal arts and even away from a metes and bounds campus. The college has changed and the student has become less of an individual and more of a customer. And while Delbanco gives his narrative no true ending, he does articulate this particular end of the college well: that a college experience give a student, "'stirring and shaping, [of] actual convictions---not just gut feelings---among his friends, and, more important, further down, in his own soul.'" In an educational atmosphere more concerned with sustained GPAs, endowments, new athletic construction, and ratings in the US News & World Report, this is a sobering and timely call.       


Website, Facebook & Email

Make sure to check back here often, or become a fan of the Buechner Institute on Facebook. Email if you have questions or would like to be on our mailing list.  Come see us if you are in the neighborhood.

As the King community says goodbye, a tribute to Dale Brown.

Visit Caring Bridge for updates on Institute Director Dale Brown or make a donation to Buechner Institute by becoming a Friend of Fred

Attend one of our Opens internal link in current windowprograms  

Check out the work of the Buechner Center 


Author Andrew Delbanco to Speak at King University on Dec. 4

On Dec. 4, King University and the Buechner Institute will welcome Harvard graduate Andrew Delbanco to the 2014-15 Buechner Institute Lecture Series.


Bestselling Poet and Essayist Christian Wiman to Speak at King University and Kingsport Center for Higher Education on Nov. 17

On Nov. 17, King University and the Buechner Institute will welcome poet Christian Wiman as a speaker in the 2014-15 Buechner Institute Lecture Series, “What’s Next?”


Nashville Singer-songwriter Sandra McCracken to Perform Oct. 24 in Knoxville at King's Hardin Valley Campus

Nashville singer-songwriter Sandra McCracken will perform at King University’s Knoxville campus located at The Village at Hardin Valley at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 24.