Geneva College and the Association of Faith-Based Organizations (AFBO) are allowed to post positions which require Christian commitment as part of their employment criteria on Pennylvania’s federally-funded CareerLink job-placement service. Initially, Geneva was denied access to posting on the Web site, resulting in a lawsuit that the Christian Legal Society and Alliance Defense Fund brought against federal and state officials on behalf of Geneva and the AFBO in December of 2006.
The concession is part of a joint dismissal that ended the law suit. According to Ken Smith, president of Geneva College, "Geneva provides students with a Christ-centered college education. It is important to us that the faculty who teach and the staff who serve our students share the same Christian perspective. The ability to hire Christians is central to our mission."
He continued, “But hiring faculty and staff who share the institution's mission is important to all independent colleges and universities, not just those that are faith-based. To lose the ability to hire in accordance with mission would undermine the very reasons many private institutions exist. We believe the government should act in a way that contributes to, rather than detracts from, the diversity of educational opportunities open to students."
President Smith noted that Geneva is pleased with the determination that the college can use CareerLink, the government-funded job-posting service, to post open positions. Geneva College and members of the AFBO were not allowed to post employment opportunities because of a government “nondiscrimination policy” prohibiting the listing of religious staffing requirements. Now the United States and Commonwealth of Pennsylvania concede that the policy does not apply to Geneva College or AFBO members not receiving Workforce Investment Act funding, so they will no longer be prohibited from posting jobs.
Attorneys of record for the litigants in the case include: Timothy J. Tracey with Christian Legal Society’s Center for Law & Religious, Geneva board member and Pittsburgh attorney John Edgar and Lawrence Paladin, who is allied with the Alliance Defense Fund.
Geneva College, a Reformed Christian liberal arts school founded in 1848, prepares students to serve Christ in all areas of society: work, family and the church. Geneva is a founding member of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities (CCCU).
A sampling of media coverage on this topic:
“The Geneva deal: Government’s Limit”: Pittsburgh Tribune Review Editorial, 5/4/07
“Geneva College settles discrimination Lawsuit, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 5/01/07
“College that requires workers to be Christians allowed to post job ads on Pennsylvania Web site”: Chronicle of Higher Education, 5/11/07
A great majority of Geneva students – 70% – complete internships during the course of their study.