Tess Hemmila – staff write
Dordt College has a long and proud heritage as a college, but what will it mean if the school becomes a university?
Provost Eric Forseth brought the prospective name change before Student Symposium on March 21 of this year. During his presentation, Forseth introduced his plans for transition and the task force that he has created to handle the possible change to Dordt University. The task force includes Derek Buteyn, Brandon Huisman and Sarah Moss.
Some of the positive aspects of the change to university could include a rise in student enrollment, ease of communication with perspective international students and a greater opportunity to be accepted into graduate school. While none of these are guaranteed, it seems likely that all of these areas would be improved by changing to Dordt University.
Other countries use different words to classify their levels of education, so in some countries the word “college” can be confusing when discussing higher education. In the past, there has been some difficultly in communicating internationally what “college” means in the United States. Another problem that international students have with attending a college is that some countries do not accept accreditation from a college at the same level as they do a university.
Specifically, college degrees are not seen as equal with university degrees in Canada. This can create problems for some Canadian students, especially nursing students, because they require a high level of certification. Huisman says that he hopes the change to university will be positive for international students.
“If Dordt College as an institution was to look into a mirror, what’s looking back is no longer a regional institution, but a university,” Huisman said.
The task force believes that Dordt has moved past its days as a college as it has continued to grow. Dordt is continually increasing its areas of study and number of undergraduate and graduate programs. Because Dordt now offers graduate studies, the school fits better with the “university” classification than with the “college” classification.
As Dordt grows, it would make sense to be a university because of programs like online learning and study abroad.
One concern about the name change is the cost of rebranding the school. Among possible costs would be new logo designs, new uniforms, new signs and new advertisements. Forseth and his team propose to distribute the cost over multiple years so the costs would not be excessive and would not come out of students’ pockets.
Another concern is how the change to “university” will affect the cost of tuition. According to the administration, Dordt’s tuition should not spike. Tuition in the past has been gradually increasing over the years and it will continue to do so as a university.
Because of the rich Reformed tradition at Dordt College, some students have expressed surprise at the name change. Although the school is potentially transitioning to a university, the task force is adamant that the school will not change the name from Dordt. In fact, with the 400-year anniversary of the Canons of Dort approaching, the school will be celebrating its namesake throughout the next academic year.
The changes on campus will likely be minimal in the early years of transition. The school plans to transition slowly into the university classification rather than rushing through the process. The task force has emphasized that they want to go through the process in the way that will most benefit the students.