[caption id=”attachment_726” align=”aligncenter” width=”345”] MP for Ancaster-Dundas-Flamborough-Westdale Mr. David Sweet; assistant professor of history Ms Helen Vreugdenhil; chaplain Dr. Syd Hielema; and president Dr. Hubert R. Krygsman during the Sept. 5 opening convocation.[/caption]
Commemorating 30 years as an institution this fall and facing what looks to be a bright future, the story of Redeemer University College’s journey to this point is something that can only be described as miraculous, says president Dr. Hubert R. Krygsman.
Students, staff and other members of the Ancaster-based institution took time to reflect on three decades of offering post-secondary Christian education Sept. 5 during the 2012-13 opening convocation. In addition to speeches from two presidents emeriti, MP David Sweet was on hand to give greetings.
In a brief conversation with OACS News after the gathering, Krygsman pointed out that Redeemer’s premise is that God is real and in control. Out of this flows a commitment to honour Him in all things, and so the background to the school’s story is God providing for Christian post-secondary education in Ontario, with a growing impact across Canada.
In addition to this provision from God has been an abundance of sacrificial support and vision from a community that continues to be convinced of the value of post-secondary Christian education.
While the school’s history is one to be celebrated, this 30-year mark is also a time to reflect on any crossroads it might be facing.
Krygsman notes the institution faces a number of these that are in fact very encouraging.
One of the questions Redeemer leadership is having to ask itself, as an example, is how big does the institution become? There is growing demand for the education it provides, and serious planning has to be put into whether it expands and, if so, how.
Redeemer is also seeing growing interest and support from many denominations, stemming, Krygsman suggests, from an upsurge of faith commitment in the larger Canadian community.
The challenge for the institution is to explore how it can best serve that very diverse community.
Another more difficult crossroads facing both Redeemer and other Christian universities and colleges across Canada is the space they’re granted in the public square, so to speak, to have a voice and be respected for that.
Given this environment, making the case for Christian or faith-based education is an ongoing challenge, Krygsman notes, adding there is benefit in that difficulty, though. “It reminds us always of our purpose,” he says.
There are also the changes in the broader post-secondary education scene that will likely have more of an impact on Redeemer in the future, amongst those the growth of online education as well as the recent proposal from Ontario Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities Glen Murray for some broad post-secondary reforms.
Looking ahead, Krygsman says he sees three strengths of Redeemer’s past that will be important to carry into the future.
The first of these is to be faithful to the calling God has given and trust He will continue to provide as He has in amazing ways in the past.
The second is to continue to focus on doing what “we do best,” which includes providing a faithful Christian education and strong academic programs in a liberal arts holistic approach, making space for a vital community life, and being committed to serving the larger community.
At the same time, the institution continues to explore new ways to expand its programs. It recently added a bachelor of science and health sciences, and prior to that a program in international relations.
“We want to seek more of those opportunities and then along with that expand ways that we can have a larger impact on our wider community,” says Krysgman.
Redeemer’s thriving is truly a good sign, he concludes, not only, again, of God’s provision but also of a Christian community in Ontario that is both continuing to take a real interest in post-secondary education and also wider concerns about society and culture in general.