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Religious colleges and universities can be distinguished from nonsectarian private institutions by their commitment to religious rituals, traditions, and/or core religious beliefs. Yet, the extent to which the governance of postsecondary institutions is controlled by these rituals, traditions, or beliefs differs significantly. The clear trend among religious colleges and universities is to dilute, or separate from, their religious origins.

The first three institutions of higher education that were founded in what became the United States—Harvard in 1636, William and Mary in 1693, and Yale in 1701—were religious in character and organized to train men for the ministry. Today, William and Mary is public, and although the other two remain private, they no longer are identified with their religious roots. Moreover, many colleges and universities that have ...

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