Passion, transparency and hope. These three words sum up the tone of the address by Trinity Western University's president Dr. Jonathan Raymond at the third annual State of the University dinner held Monday evening.
Leading up to the keynote address, dinner guests were exposed to a wealth of stories and testimonials. They saw first hand how a TWU education results in more than just a transfer of knowledge.
Alumnus Richard Taylor (‘02) spoke of how his TWU education greatly influenced his work with the organization he co-founded, Wellspring. Set against the backdrop of genocide, the Rwandan based foundation is helping to train teachers and educate the next generation of future leaders. Heather Meyerhoff, Associate Professor of Nursing, also shared how TWU nursing students were impacting small hospitals in Zambia. And two videos that were part of a new TWU video campaign called Impact the World profiled how professors and their students are making an impact, not only in the classroom but around the world.
Says Raymond, "Trinity Western University is like no other university in Canada. TWU is different as evident in the testimonies and videos that you witnessed tonight. It is missional and transformational in its impact on students, and through them, on the world."
The address began with a recap of the university's highlights over the last fiscal year. Passionate and with much to celebrate, Raymond shared just a few of the exciting achievements of Canada's premier Christian university. Highlights included the university receiving over one million dollars in research and grant funding, new graduate programs including a Master of Arts in Marriage and Family Therapy, a Master of Science in Nursing, and a Masters of Business Administration with an International Specialization. Further achievements include national sports championships in the CIS, Canada's top university athletics league, and TWU receiving a third A+ for quality of education in the Globe and Mail university report card.
While there was much to celebrate, the tone of the address, took on a more transparent and sober tone as Raymond presented statistics that were recently published in the April 13th issue of Maclean's that suggest that the "percentage of teens that identify as Christian is shrinking." Raymond highlighted the need more than ever to continue to see TWU flourish, fulfilling a real need for Christian higher education in Canada with an essence built on Jesus Christ.
Says Raymond, "Tonight we can celebrate national recognition for excellence in unsurpassed quality: frankly the best overall nationally ranked university in Canada. At the same time, the university is in crisis. And its condition accrued over several years, is chronic, and potentially fatal. I'm not exaggerating or speaking in hyperbole tonight. Gradually escalating debt, significant year-to-year losses of enrolment and a very small endowment together increase our vulnerability and threaten our future."
Pointing to the downsize of the global economy, Raymond acknowledged that Christian families are struggling to afford tuition for their children, fewer US students are coming north of the border because of the less favourable exchange rate, and the financial model of the university-being tuition driven-have all contributed to the trials the university is facing financially. Identifying with students, Raymond said, "Students need greater assistance to begin their studies at TWU and to stay and complete their degree. Thousands of Christian students are forced to attend secular regional universities and colleges thereby missing out on the opportunities of a Trinity Western education."
Raymond referenced the strategic plan or "Redesign" of the University titled: A Way Forward into a Preferred and Sustainable Future. The nine-page document, released this spring, outlined several areas in which the university will aim to streamline and improve its processes. These include strong action to increase enrolment, budget constraints, a focus on university marketing and alumni relations initiatives, reducing the university's debt, growing endowments, and living within the institution's means.
Raymond stated, "We must and we will reduce the cost of a Trinity Western University education by increasing our capacity to provide financial aid through scholarships and bursaries. We must and we will continue to redesign the university for greatest efficiency and continual improvement in its missional effectiveness. We must and we will preserve those programs and initiatives that carry the transforming presence of Christ and unique God-honouring forms of Christian university education. And finally we must and we will pursue a more excellent way of doing the mission of the university, living out its Christ-centered essence and achieving its kingdom ends."
The evening concluded with a call to action to help support TWU financially. As dinner guests left the ballroom they each received a copy of Raymond's new book, Called to a Higher Purpose: Essence & Ends in Canada's Christian University.
A copy of the State of the University address can be found at www.twu.ca/president
Trinity Western University, in Langley, B.C., is an independent Christian liberal arts and sciences university enrolling approximately 4000 students. TWU offers 42 undergraduate majors, ranging from biotechnology, education, nursing, theatre and music, to psychology, communications and biblical studies. TWU's 16 graduate degree programs include counseling psychology, business, theology, linguistics, and leadership, and interdisciplinary degrees in English, philosophy and history. TWU holds Canada Research Chairs in Dead Sea Scroll Studies, Developmental Genetics and Disease, and Interpretation, Religion & Culture.
Last Updated: 2009-06-30