Dordt College News

Programs in Christian Vocation Project awarded $500,000 Lilly Grant

May 30, 2006

A program at Dordt College which challenges students to integrate their faith with their vocational calling has been awarded a $500,000 Lilly Endowment Inc. matching funds renewal grant.

Dordt College is one of only 30 colleges awarded Lilly Endowment renewal grants this year, funded through Lilly’s Programs for the Theological Exploration of Vocation (PTEV) initiative. Lilly Endowment Inc. first selected Dordt College to participate in the PTEV initiative in 2002, at that time awarding the college $2 million to implement a group of programs that assist students in clarifying the relationship between their faith and vocational calling.

“This initiative opened with three major aims: to encourage young people to explore Christian ministry as their possible life’s work, to help all students draw on the wisdom of their faith traditions in making career choices, and to enhance the capacity of the schools’ faculties and staffs to teach and mentor students in these areas,” said Craig Dykstra, senior vice president for religion at Lilly Endowment Inc. “What these schools have accomplished has been phenomenal … we have heard from students, faculty, staff, alumni and even parents about the effectiveness of these college programs in encouraging young people to engage in vocational reflection.”

At Dordt College, a key component of the “Programs in Christian Vocation” project implemented in 2002 has been a course all freshmen students take called “Kingdom, Identity, and Calling.” This GEN 100 course places the entire freshman class into groups of about 14, each mentored during their first semester of college by a faculty member or staff person. In the small group setting, students have the opportunity to discuss, role-play, problem solve, journal and reflect on how to become what God has called them to be. Each student also meets one-on-one with their mentor at least five times during this crucial first semester of college.

“The PTEV grant has helped our college to work out innovative and improved ways of helping our students discover their calling,” said Dr. John Kok, Dordt’s Programs in Christian Vocation project director. In addition to the freshman seminar, other key programs funded by the grant include:

• An enhanced youth ministries program (five new courses and expanded ministry practicums) yielding an increase in theology majors, youth ministry emphases, and pre-seminary majors since 2002;

• The Kuyper Scholars Program, which goes far beyond the traditional Grade Point Average (GPA) honors list to identify students who exhibit a passion for learning and leadership and provide them with additional independent learning opportunities and scholarship funding;

• Student assistance for seminary/ graduate school visits, career exploration, and summer ministry. Since 2003, Lilly funding has allowed more than 100 students to visit seminaries, graduate schools, or career seminars;

• An alumni online community, which allows alumni to network with other alumni regarding changes in careers, addresses or families. Since becoming operational three years ago the online community is utilized by nearly 18 percent of Dordt alumni.

The grant and matching funds contributed by Dordt College will be utilized to cover continuing costs of these programs through 2010.

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