Program Changes at Redeemer, Calvin Universities

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Redeemer University in Ancaster, Ont., and Calvin University in Grand Rapids, Mich., have both recently made cuts to their academic programs, leaving some students upset and hurt by the decisions that the schools found necessary for sustainability.

Redeemer is cutting its French and theater programs, and Calvin has cut its astronomy minor and major or minor focuses in global development studies, classical studies, and Dutch, German, Greek, and Latin languages.

Redeemer met with an academic planning group to review and evaluate the long term sustainability of all of Redeemer’s programs. The recommendations were brought to Redeemer’s senate. David Zietsma, interim president at Redeemer said, “The senate made decisions with respect to closing French and theater as a result of their difficulties in sustaining the programs and the low enrollment.”

Redeemer is working with each student to find the best pathway toward graduation, Zietsma said, and to ensure that their senior students can finish with their major.

Zietsma said the school has “done our best over the last number of years,” spending “millions of dollars on making these programs affordable at an affordable tuition price through advertising, marketing, and recruiting for all of our programs—including French and theatre.

“With one graduate in theater, three in French (this year), and costs of well over $300,000 for the two programs, it’s just not sustainable in the long term.”

Emily Wright, a student entering her fourth year in the French program at Redeemer, said she feels her education has been devalued. “The French and theater arts education of those currently in the program should still be prioritized and valued despite low enrollment,” she said.

Redeemer said as a matter of practice it does not share current enrollment numbers for any of its programs. The total number of Redeemer students in the 2020-21 year was 896. Over the last six years the average number of graduating students from the theater arts program was 3.3 and for the French program, 2.6. Redeemer has said that three faculty positions will end this summer as a result of the cuts.

While two programs have been cut, Redeemer is adding a Bachelor of Business Administration to its program offerings.

“This is still an exciting time of growth and opportunity at Redeemer,” Zietsma said. With a continued “commitment to a strong liberal arts and science foundation, we remain excited about what the future holds and recognize that sometimes getting there does require making difficult stewardly decisions that are painful for everyone.”

Calvin University underwent a similar academic program review process. Based on recommendations from its Planning and Priorities Committee, the school will phase out seven minors and five majors. In an email, the president of Calvin University, Michael Le Roy, said, “The closure of these programs and the involuntary elimination of two faculty positions are truly difficult decisions. We have worked hard, however, to reduce the impact to our faculty, and all currently enrolled students will be able to complete their degrees in these areas of study.”

Le Roy, who recently announced that the upcoming academic year will be his last as president, said, “I believe these changes set us on a more solid footing and position us to better provide the educational experience our students deserve.”

Calvin also recently announced a new school of business. It broke ground on the project in March.

About the Author

Kristen Parker is a freelance writer. She has a passion for words and creativity. Kristen and her husband Chris, enjoy board games and thrift shopping. Kristen attended Barrie First CRC her whole life, though she has recently moved to Toronto.

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