Connor Van Hulzen— Staff Writer
Since arriving at Dordt University from Lynden, Washington in 2017, professor Ryan Smit has helped rejuvenate the vocal music program, where he oversees four choirs. As Dordt’s enrollment has continued to increase year after year, so has student participation in these choirs. With well over 100 students under his direction, Smit has impacted the Dordt community.
This is why Smit found it difficult to break the news to his choirs that he will no longer work on Dordt’s campus for the 2022-23 school year. Instead, he will pursue his doctorate of musical arts at North Dakota State University. After completing this degree, Smit plans to return to Sioux Center and Dordt for the 2023-24 school year.
“There’s a huge part of me that would rather stay because I truly love my work here,” Smit said. “I feel particularly bad for those who are juniors this year–but I remember that the same thing happened to me with Dr. Kornelis when I attended Dordt, and I know they will be able to still have fun and get through it together.”
While gone, Smit will study conducting, music literature, music history, music theory, and take conducting lessons. This will culminate into comprehensive exams the summer of 2023, taking three to four days, being the final step in achieving his doctorate.
To fill the vacancy left by professor Smit’s departure, Dordt will hire a one-year replacement. With some input from Smit, this search process will deliver a choir director who is tasked with maintaining continuity for one year before Smit returns.
“Yeah, I’m for sure really sad to see him go,” Isaac Rohne, a junior concert choir member said. “Not having him here for my senior year will make things a little different and weird, so I’m definitely going to miss him.”
In the midst of his departure, professor Smit reminds students he is doing something he has always hoped to achieve, something he did not think he would get the opportunity to do.
“When I was teaching at a high school and raising a family, it can be hard to find time and make that financial commitment,” Smit said. “I had almost given up on it but when I got the position here at Dordt, I was very excited to have that potential.”