The two oldest liberal arts colleges supported by members of the Christian Reformed Church have moved to become Dordt University and Calvin University, respectively.
American standards for colleges becoming universities are set by each state, and there is no one, nationwide definition for either term. In general, universities must meet certain high-level academic standards, engage in research in multiple fields and offer post-graduate as well as under-graduate degrees.
Dordt College of Sioux Center, Iowa, was founded in 1955 as a Reformed Christian Midwestern teachers’ college. It now has 1,400 students from 30 states, eight Canadian provinces and 25 other countries. On May 13, 2019 it will be granted university status.
Dordt’s mission has been to “equip students, alumni and the broader community to work effectively toward Christ-centered renewal in all aspects of contemporary life,” from a Reformed perspective. In doing that, Dordt had already been looking and acting like a university: “prioritizing excellence in teaching, robust scholarship and a greater variety of opportunities for students and faculty to collaborate.” President Erik Hoekstra says “Dordt University best described who we are and who we are becoming.”
Founded in 1876, Calvin College of Grand Rapids, Michigan, has 3,800 students from 45 states, five Canadian provinces and 60 other countries. Calvin’s move to university status will occur in 2020 during the 100th anniversary year of its becoming a four-year college.
“This direction enables us to live into what has already been true about Calvin,” says President Michael Le Roy. “We see this move providing a great opportunity to introduce more people to Calvin’s distinctive Christian mission.”
Both institutions already offer numerous associates and bachelor’s degrees, pre-professional programs (medical, law, seminary, etc.) and some post-graduate degrees as well.
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