BLOOMINGTON, Ill.— While his classmates at Brown University studied abroad in Paris,
Barcelona or Munich, Kevin Roose opted for a domestic immersion experience in a culture foreign to his own. As a self-described
fairly typical Brown student who “studied English lit, drank fair-trade coffee, attended
the occasional anti-war protest, and sang in an a cappella group,” Roose became fascinated
with Liberty University, a Christian liberal arts college founded by the late Rev.
Jerry Falwell. Roose wanted to know more about his Christian peers, so in his junior
year he spent a semester attending Liberty as a way to understand the nation’s “God
Roose’s experiences resulted in The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner’s Semester at America’s Holiest University (Grand Central Publishing, 2009). The book is Illinois Wesleyan University’s Summer Reading Program selection, and was chosen in response to the University’s 2015-2016 intellectual
theme of “Nation(s) Divided?”
Incoming first-year students are expected to read the book and complete reading questions
before Turning Titan: New Student Orientation in August. IWU faculty, staff and alumni
are invited to read the book as well; many participate as small-group discussion leaders
for incoming students on Aug. 19.
New this year is the Summer Reading Essay contest, open to all members of the Class of 2019. Essays should be 500-750 words
and must be submitted by Aug. 3 to email@example.com. Winners will be announced at New Student Convocation on Aug. 18. First prize is
dinner with Roose on Sept. 8 at the IWU president’s home and a $250 gift card to the
Roose grew up in Oberlin, Ohio, in a secular, liberal family. Enrolling at Liberty
University as a transfer student, Roose writes that he “sang in Jerry Falwell’s church
choir, took classes in Creationism and Evangelism 101, lived on a hall with 60 Christian
guys, went on a spring break trip to Daytona Beach to convert lost souls, and made
some unexpected friends amidst the chaos.”
Critics and reviewers at news outlets ranging from ChristianityToday.com and Jewish Week to The Paris Review praised Roose for his respectful and thoughtful reporting and analysis. He also won
admiration for his use of humor and highly entertaining writing style.
Roose is also the author of Young Money: Inside the Hidden World of WallStreet’s Post-Crash Recruits, a 2014 New York Times bestseller looking at the lives of eight young Wall Street bankers. He has written
for GQ, Esquire, the New York Times, and New York magazine, among others. He is currently a senior editor and co-executive producer
at Fusion, the joint venture between Univision and Disney/ABC.
Roose is scheduled to speak at the President’s Convocation on Wednesday, Sept. 9,
at 11 a.m. at Westbrook Auditorium.