Redeemer responds to changing environment
Comprehensive review leads to changes in academic program
5 min. read
December 19, 2014

Redeemer University College has always offered students a transformative Christian university education, one that prepares them for lives of leadership and service. It has remained true to that mission for more than 30 years, and through many changes in the environment. The last few years have seen some major shifts in the educational landscape. Students today are much more cost-conscious, and they are more inclined to choose programs they believe will assure them of jobs upon graduation. The availability of online courses and degrees from community colleges also presents students with many more options for post-secondary training. And some question the relevance of a traditional liberal arts and science program, like the one Redeemer offers. Redeemer has been tracking these changes for some time and earlier this year the University’s administration and Board of Governors adopted an ambitious plan to respond to the challenges of this rapidly changing environment. This new strategic plan, called Redeemer 2020, provides Redeemer with a multi-faceted approach to address both the challenges and the opportunities of this new reality. Some of those initiatives have recently been announced and Redeemer is pleased to share some of the key elements of the plan. It will likely take weeks and months to fully implement some of these initiatives; as updates become available, more information will be posted on Redeemer’s website. Changes to the Academic Program: The Redeemer 2020 plan affirms our core mission and commitment to Christ-centred liberal arts and sciences at the university level, which we believe remains vital for equipping our students with academic excellence, career preparation, and development as followers of Christ in their whole lives. Our strategic initiatives build on this commitment and respond to our current environment. As part of the plan, a new Centre for Experiential Learning will be launched, increasing Redeemer’s capacity for offering experiences such as internships and co-ops. These programs enrich student learning and provide students with the career development skills and experiences that employers are seeking. To respond to student demand, and to equip them for engaging the front lines of our culture, new academic offerings are being developed. This fall will see the launch of a new major in Media and Communications Studies. As well, other programs will be enhanced – for example, a revised Ministry program will include more options for students to concentrate on areas such as youth, music and leadership. Unfortunately, difficult decisions have had to be made about several existing programs. Some are being cut back, restructured or even eliminated, and that has resulted in some faculty and staff being released. Redeemer asks that its extended community pray for those faculty and staff who are most directly affected by these changes. Redeemer is also conducting an extensive review of its Core Curriculum. These foundational courses – rooted in a Christian worldview and a cornerstone of a liberal arts and science education — provide a background and context for everything a student learns. The goal is to enhance a student’s experience by better integrating a revised core with other co-curricular activities so that students grow deeper in their faith, develop intellectually and leave Redeemer prepared for careers and calling. New Initiatives in Marketing and Enrolment: One of the other major thrusts of Redeemer 2020 is a more strategic approach to increasing Redeemer’s profile and visibility – that is, getting the word out about Ontario’s best-kept secret! This new emphasis can be seen in the announcement by President Krygsman earlier this month of a newly established Marketing and Enrolment division. Led by Dr. David Zietsma as its Vice President, the new division will include responsibility for Recruitment, Communications, Financial Aid and Marketing. “This new division will enable Redeemer to ensure a ‘full-court press’ of in-house institutional capacity and focus in our enrolment efforts,” says Dr. Krygsman. “I believe that this will help us to maintain support in our traditional prospect base while reaching out to new communities.” One of Dr. Zietsma’s responsibilities will be the implementation of a comprehensive marketing plan. Commissioned in March 2014, the plan was developed by a full-service marketing agency and outlines several strategies for increasing Redeemer’s impact in communities that are familiar with the University, and expanding Redeemer’s presence in non-traditional markets. Perhaps no area reflects the rapidly-evolving environment as much as digital communication. To address this, Redeemer is enhancing its entire Information Technology infrastructure. This effort, called Telling Our Story, is one of Redeemer’s most ambitious infrastructure projects ever, and will transform the way everyone, both internal stakeholders and external audiences, sees and interacts with Redeemer. The more things change: Change is not always easy, especially for an institution that values its past and honours all those who have contributed to its development over time — and there should be no doubt that at the heart of the Redeemer 2020 vision is a commitment to Redeemer’s founding mission. But change is also inevitable, and as Dr. Krygsman notes, “As a relatively small university, we need to and can be, responsive to our environment. We need to adapt—without changing the heart of who we are—to the needs and interests of students who are seeking a holistic, transformative, Christian university education that equips them to serve at the front lines of today’s culture.” Yet even through these challenges, the University sees this as an opportunity to renew itself strategically for this new environment. “We remain strongly committed to providing Christ-centred university education and scholarship,” concludes President Krygsman. “In fact, the need for such education is as urgent as ever, and we look forward to working together to ensure our Christian academic community continues to thrive in service to God and His Kingdom!”

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