Mackinac College, located on Mackinac Island, Michigan, opened its doors to students on September 14, 1966. Although lasting only four years, the college touched the lives of many individuals who respected and were inspired by the concepts upon which it was formed.
In the words of Mackinac College President S. Douglas Cornell,
"The Mackinac concept is that education has two roles to play. One is the imparting of knowledge, the training of the intellect, the sharpening of the mind. The other is the building in men's lives of an adequate framework of purpose and moral responsibility within which the stored knowledge and the honed mind are put to use.
We accept both roles as comprising the only adequate strategy for education in today's world. We believe the pursuit of that strategy to be the new frontier for education in the final third of our century.
Mackinac College aims to provide a stimulating, wide-ranging, deep-searching academic program. It aims at the same time in all its activities to generate the quality of living that is necessary for those who would grapple with the issues of the modern world."
The establishment of Mackinac College was the result of both opportunity and need. The site which was available to the college provided an existing campus of dormitory, dining halls, assembly halls, a fine arts facility and classroom space. Situated at the heart of an historic and beautiful region–Mackinac Island and the Straits–the buildings of Mackinac College stood on a 21-acre site which had served as a conference center for Moral Re-Armament from 1956 to 1966.
Two years of careful research involving interviews at educational institutions across the nation, five conferences conducted with high school and college students and extensive campus visits determined that there was a high degree of interest in an institution dedicated to learning based on both knowledge and a "devotion to moral disciplines and larger motivations."
As one college publication described it:
"To this end Mackinac has developed a curriculum, teaching and campus life which will equip students morally, spiritually and intellectually to answer the pressures of fear, hatred and greed, prejudice and apathy, which threaten to negate man's spectacular advances in knowledge and skills.
Students will be taught how to create unity between conflicting forces. They will be led to develop a discipline of mind, heart and muscle which allows their talents to mature. They will be stimulated to use a creative imagination for the renaissance of society rather than for selfish and materialistic goals. Mackinac will achieve these purposes not by courses and activities alone, but primarily through the commitment, attitudes and life of the entire College staff."