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David Brooks Receives 2023 Mark O. Hatfield Award

David Brooks Receives 2023 Mark O. Hatfield Award

February 10, 2023

(Washington, D.C.)—The Council for Christian Colleges and Universities presented New York Times columnist David Brooks with the Mark O. Hatfield Leadership Award at the 2023 Presidents Conference for his contributions to the public square as a thoughtful writer, spiritual guide and humble leader.

Established in 1997 in honor of Senator Hatfield, a longtime supporter of the Council, the Hatfield Leadership Award is presented to individuals who have demonstrated uncommon leadership that reflects the values of Christ-centered higher education. Past recipients include Michael Cromartie, Congressman Tim Walberg, NT Wright, John Perkins, Vonette Bright, Rick and Kay Warren, among others.

“Your robust thinking, prolific writing and public exploration of your personal journey have helped make us better, more courageous and hospitable people on our own journeys,” said CCCU President Shirley Hoogstra as she presented Brooks with the award. “You have encouraged Christ-centered organizations not to be afraid, but to be bold in the reality that we have what the world is hungering for: that is, a ‘spiritual vocabulary’, a spiritual focus, and an actual way to orient our lives toward a higher good.”

“David models what you as college presidents want for your students, moral character, Christ centered higher education, humility and wisdom. This award from the CCCU is one of like minds, like passions, like testimony and like values. He shares a common commitment with Mark Hatfield, to be truthful, not popular, both speak truth to power,” said Rev. Stuart McAlpine, founding pastor of Christ Our Shepherd Church on Capitol Hill, who joined Gary Haugen, founder and CEO of the International Justice Mission, and Peter Wehner, fellow NY Times Columnist, as part of the award presentation.

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“He has the ability to see things that the rest of us see and yet perceive things that the rest of us don’t,” Peter Wehner said. “David not only sees the humanity of his subjects, he seeks the humanity of his subjects. He’s given us moral tools and a moral vocabulary, and helps us realize that suffering can be meaningful when it’s connected to the story of redemption.”

In exploring the current cultural context, though, Brooks asked: “Why all the sadness and meanness in our culture? The real story is that we have a lack of moral formation. We live in a society where people haven’t been trained to treat each other with kindness and consideration across the complex situations in life,” Brooks said. “Yet when I go to CCCU schools, kids say we do this (moral formation) every day. “

Brooks reinforced that moral formation is about three simple things: 1. Helping people learn how to restrain their selfishness. 2. Teaching social and emotional skills. 3. Helping people orient their lives to the pure and loving goodness of God.

“I see this happening at the CCCU but it used to happen across society. If you believe you’re naturally good, you don’t need moral formation. Morality became privatized, and now you create your own morality,” he said. “So if you don’t have a moral vocabulary you’ll have a moral vacuum. And you’ll fill it with something and you walk out of a moral vacuum into a moral war. At CCCU I see campuses with a purpose, a truth and a moral universe. So you are salt and light. And why I find it so refreshing to go to your campuses.”

For further information about the Mark O. Hatfield Leadership Award, please contact Dr. Amanda Staggenborg, Chief Communication Officer, at



The Council for Christian Colleges & Universities is a higher education association of more than 185 Christian institutions around the world. Since 1976, the CCCU has served as the leading national voice of Christian higher education. With campuses across the globe, including more than 150 in the U.S. and Canada and more than 30 from an additional 19 countries, CCCU institutions are accredited, comprehensive colleges and universities whose missions are Christ-centered and rooted in the historic Christian faith. Most also have curricula rooted in the arts and sciences. The CCCU’s mission is to advance the cause of Christ-centered higher education and to help our institutions transform lives by faithfully relating scholarship and service to biblical truth.

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