William Jessup president: We must not allow our overly partisan times to divide neighbors

A recent column published in The Sacramento Bee mentioned William Jessup University, where I serve as president. While I respectfully disagree with the author’s conclusions that Placer County allocations to our university are an inappropriate use of taxpayer dollars, I genuinely appreciate the mention of William Jessup.

Our mission to educate transformational leaders, for the glory of God informs our vision: that our graduates provide notable servant leadership, enrich family, church and community life and serve with distinction in their chosen career.

We believe faith requires action. As Apostle James writes, “So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”

We consider ourselves a vital member of the Rocklin community and are pleased to contribute in any way we can. Our traditional students, who make up about 50% of our student population, log over 30,000 hours of volunteer service each year.

Serving others is not just something our students do in their free time. A mindset of service is an integral part of our academic curricula. For example, our nursing students partner with local and regional healthcare providers, including hospice and correctional facilities, to develop needed skills to provide holistic, compassionate care to patients once they enter the workforce.

Last year, through a donor, John Muir Hospital graciously donated a mobile health clinic to our university. We are working with the Placer County Public Health Department to provide essential services to those who are underserved in our community.

Another way we enrich our local community is through the work of our Institute of Biodiversity and the Environment (IBE). We were given a grant from the Sierra Foothills Audubon Society and funding from the Placer County Board of Supervisors for the study of Western Burrowing Owl behavior in Placer County. Western Burrowing Owls in California have been experiencing population declines for the past several years, and our IBE program students have contributed important research on this subject as part of the Placer County Conservation Program. We were thrilled when our students spotted at least five fledgling Western Burrowing Owls via cameras that monitor the artificial burrows.

As our students support our community, we support our students. We award $16 million in scholarships to our students each year, many to underserved communities. Our annual Jessup Gala raises funds for students who are facing financial difficulties. In 2020, we established our Hungry-Warrior food/basic needs pantry for students experiencing food insecurity, hunger, displacement or poverty.

Thanks to the collaborative efforts of on-campus and community-based programs, we are able to improve student success through the provision of food and assistance with CalFresh and USDA SNAP benefits, as well as research-based education and referral services.

We understand some people are critical or skeptical of religious institutions like ours, but they should remember that faith-based organizations and institutions have long fulfilled critical roles in society. We must not allow our overly partisan times to divide neighbor-against-neighbor. Our beautiful religious freedom in the United States calls us to a higher standard of peace and coexistence.

Schools, hospitals, homeless shelters, addiction recovery support groups, feeding centers and foster care and adoption programs have been established by various faith groups throughout our local community, the state, nation and the world.

We embrace the teachings of our faith and take seriously the principle to love our neighbors as ourselves, even if their beliefs are different than our own. In practice, this includes — among many other examples — serving others in need, caring for the environment and supporting the students who make up our university family.

I am thankful for the members of our community who have generously partnered with us so that we can make Placer County a better place. We are proud to be your neighbors.

Dr. John Jackson is president of William Jessup University, one of the top private Christian universities in the nation.