Developing Whole People

President Erik Hoekstra

Some years ago, I had an interesting conversation with a team of people visiting Dordt’s campus to reaffirm our engineering program’s accreditation.

Since its inception, Dordt’s engineering program has always been certified by ABET—Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, an organization which is truly the gold standard for collegiate engineering programs. ABET visits us every few years to give us feedback to improve—and we’ve always had an excellent relationship.

On this visit, the team noted that Dordt has the minimum number of technical courses to receive ABET’s seal of approval and suggested that we might want to consider adding two additional technical courses.

I immediately gave them an unequivocally negative response, which I think surprised them a bit. Most often they’re used to having their suggestions accepted without pushback.

I wasn’t argumentative; I simply asked a question about Dordt students’ passing rates on the Fundamentals of Engineering exam, which is taken before a graduate can be known as a “PE” or “Professional Engineer.” The visitors indicated that Dordt students' pass rates rival any of the top tier universities.

I then shared with them the feedback we regularly receive from our graduates' employers, who appreciate how Dordt graduates differentiate themselves with their non-technical acumen in areas like writing, public speaking, interpersonal communication, and teamwork. In addition, I told the accreditors about the importance of our history/theology/philosophy sequence of core courses in which our student develop a biblical worldview.

We’ve developed this core curriculum carefully over the decades at Dordt to equip all of our students, no matter their major area of study or intended vocation, to faithfully live as effective kingdom citizens and ready themselves for lives of faithful service in every area of contemporary life.

At the end of the accreditation visit, I indicated to the team that I certainly hoped that they would recommend our engineering program for continued certification (which they did), but I also let them know that we'd hold strong to our core program requirements at Dordt.

I assured them of our desire to have our engineers be well-prepared for all the technical challenges they’ll face in their careers; Christ is never honored when Christians aren’t equipped to work with excellence. I believe the accreditors left that meeting seeing that at Dordt, we view our students with a wider lens—knowing that their identity before God is much more than what they do for a paycheck.

When I meet up with our graduates several years after their time at Dordt, it’s clear to me that not only do they thrive thanks in part to the technical aspects we teach at Dordt, they also benefit from the breadth of the Dordt education that prepares them to live a life of productive and thankful service in all facets of life. Yes, they’re well prepared for getting a job and often progress rapidly in their fields, but they also have a depth that truly allows them to love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength—and love their neighbors as themselves.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Dr. Erik Hoekstra, Dordt University president

A picture of campus behind yellow prairie flowers