Mission, Vision, & History
Mission & Vision
As an institution of higher education committed to the Reformed Christian perspective, Dordt equips students, alumni, and the broader community to work effectively toward Christ-centered renewal in all aspects of contemporary life.
An education that is Christian not merely in the sense that devotional exercises are appended to the ordinary work of the college, but in the larger and deeper sense that all the class work, all of the students' intellectual, emotional, and imaginative activities shall be permeated with the spirit and teaching of Christianity.
On May 13, 2019, Dordt College officially became Dordt University.
This change fit Dordt’s mission, highlights the excellence of its academic programs, and emphasizes its global footprint.
“Dordt University best describes who we are and who we are becoming,” says President Erik Hoekstra. “Over the years, we have developed academic and co-curricular programs that grow out of our mission to prepare students to serve in the professions they enter and the communities in which they live. Dordt now looks and acts more like a university than a college.”
In addition to a diverse array of more traditional undergraduate programs, Dordt’s academic offerings include online studies, graduate programs, and professional-technical associate degrees. Dordt alumni live all over the world, and current students come from more than 26 countries.
“In many countries, the word ‘college’ refers to ‘high school,’ so some students overlook Dordt as an option for postsecondary education,” says Dr. Richard Mouw, president emeritus of Fuller Seminary and Dordt Board of Trustees member. “Potential graduate students search for universities. We want graduate and international students to see Dordt as an engaging, challenging place to learn.”
The transition to Dordt University makes sense to junior Riley Arkema, a student member of the university initiative task force.
“There is positive momentum on campus,” says Arkema. “I think the name ‘Dordt University’ better reflects what Dordt is and the potential for what our community can be.”
Dr. Mark Christians, psychology professor and faculty chair, says that the university initiative will help faculty to expand their research efforts while continuing to focus on student learning.
“The faculty will continue to engage with students in their quality teaching and research,” says Christians, who is also a university initiative task force member. “Faculty are committed to carrying out the mission and vision in order to equip students to work for Christ-centered renewal in all of areas of life in God’s kingdom.”
Since 1955, Dordt has continued to add and deepen academic and co-curricular programs that, as our mission says, “equip students, alumni, and the broader community to work effectively toward Christ-centered renewal in all aspects of contemporary life.” Dordt now looks and acts more like a university than a college; we prioritize excellence in teaching, robust scholarship, and a greater variety of opportunities for students and faculty to collaborate. As a university, Dordt will remain committed to the mission and to the Reformed Christian perspective while courageously following God’s leading.
In the past 10 years, Dordt has expanded our academic offerings to include online studies, graduate programs, and professional-technical associate degrees. We have elevated research opportunities for faculty and students; agencies such as the National Science Foundation have awarded our faculty more than $6.5 million in external grants. By becoming Dordt University, we signal that we offer the breadth and quality of academic programs that you expect to find at a university.
With plans to add a master of public administration program in 2019, Dordt continues to develop graduate programs. When potential graduate students search for universities, they look for “university,” not “college.” As Dordt University, our graduate programs will be more welcoming and accessible for students as they search.
Dordt alumni live our mission all over the world, and our students come from over 26 countries. Dordt’s footprint is already a global one; Dordt University more accurately reflects our diversity as an institution.
In many countries, the word “college” refers to “high school.” By becoming Dordt University, we will remove this barrier for international students as well as for Dordt graduates who serve Christ around the world.
Dordt University began in 1953 as Midwest Christian Junior College. At the time, there was a dearth of qualified Christian school teachers in the area, and the new college sought to fill that void. The college’s doors opened in 1955, with 35 enrolled students and five faculty members. The campus was comprised of a new four-classroom building; the property was set on a former mink farm and surrounded by fields of crops.
Once the institution became a four-year college, its name was changed to Dordt College in honor of the Synod of Dordt held in Dordrecht, the Netherlands, in 1618-19, a synod which emphasized the sovereignty of God through his electing grace.
Dordt’s first four-year B.A. degrees were awarded to a graduating class of 58 in 1965. The college grew rapidly in the 1960s and 1970s, with enrollment climbing above 1,200. Many faculty members, intending to teach here only a few years, became committed to the college mission and remained for their entire careers.
Although it began as a college for training up Christian school teachers, Dordt has expanded its academic offerings to include programs in agriculture, nursing, engineering, business, social work, criminal justice, construction management, international business, and more.
The four presidents of Dordt have provided leadership and commitment to a distinct vision for Christian higher education. Rev. B.J. Haan, who served as first president of the college until his retirement in 1982, worked tirelessly to lay the foundation that is today more clearly articulated in The Educational Task. Dr. J.B. Hulst, a founder and early dean of students, supervised the development of a strategic plan for the future of the college. Dr. Carl E. Zylstra, Dordt’s third president, urged faculty and students to make the continuing educational vision concrete in their teaching, learning, and living. Dr. Erik Hoekstra, who began his presidency in 2012, has championed Dordt’s mission statement and continues to adhere to Dordt’s distinct vision.
Over the years, Dordt continued to add and deepen academic and co-curricular programs that, as Dordt’s mission says, “equip students, alumni, and the broader community to work effectively toward Christ-centered renewal in all aspects of contemporary life.” In doing so, Dordt began to look and act more like a university than a college; the institution prioritized robust scholarship, excellence in teaching, and increased opportunities for students and faculty to collaborate. In addition to a diverse array of traditional undergraduate programs, Dordt’s academic offerings began to include online studies, graduate programs, and professional-technical associate degrees. Students came from more than 26 countries to study at Dordt, and alumni lived all over the world. In May 2018, the Board of Trustees and Dr. Erik Hoekstra announced that Dordt would become known as Dordt University. The transition to Dordt University officially took place on May 13, 2019.
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