By: Ian DeJong | October 7, 2022
’Tis the season of change. As students embark on another year at Redeemer University, it is not hard to spot the changing currents of this school’s journey of academic flourishing. Recently, Redeemer students received a glimpse of these changing developments on the Redeemer timeline displayed in the halls, which records the school’s milestones from 1982 to 2022.
The most recent introductions to the community, as shown on the wall, included finalizing the construction of the Charis Live and Learn Centre and the parking lots, inaugurating Dr. David Zietsma as the university’s president, new programs, and the fortieth-anniversary celebration. But the timeline in the halls is not enough to display the many developments in the Redeemer community.
For good or for bad, Redeemer is changing at a rapid pace; it has hosted many upgrades in response to the growing student population. This year, student enrollment peaked at just over 1,100, a significant jump from 1,014 in the previous year. This article will provide a substantial overview of the new elements of the 2022 school season, urge students to take advantage of these new opportunities, and elaborate on the reaction of the school community in response to the new changes.
As Redeemer celebrates forty years of opening up a space for faith-filled learning, we are currently in a spot on Redeemer’s timeline with more notable milestones than ever before. This is attributable to the student boom, a revival of school spirit after a COVID-19-induced energy recession, and an expansion of opportunities in leadership, community, and academics.
One of the most notable and convenient changes of this past year is the full construction of the Charis Centre and the reconstruction of its accompanying parking lots.
Nathan Reid-Welford, a third-year English student and resident of Charis, has enjoyed his experience living there: “The building is definitely an upgrade from the older dorms. The best parts are the kitchen, the new appliances that make cooking better, and the comfortable furniture.”
On another note, Nathan is not satisfied with other features in the Charis building, especially “the lack of storage space in the bedrooms.” Nathan continues, “There are not enough laundry machines in the basement, and they make laundry a longer process than it should be.”
As for the parking updates, Aidan Maxwell, a commuter studying politics and international studies, has voiced both concerns and appreciations for this new addition. Since the lots stretch from the gym to Augustine Hall, Aidan finds that securing a spot has not been an obstacle: “I like that they are well-kept; there is usually a lot of space.”
However, parking at Redeemer has its discontents. “I dislike that I have to pay for parking at the university I already pay to go to,” says Aidan. Likewise, parking can be frustrating at times, given that making the turn into the lot is a difficult task. Aidan goes on to say, “There’s been several times where I’ve had to open my car door or stretch my stomach out my window to reach [THE card reader].”
In the new year, Redeemer students are generally content with the convenient upgrades in parking and residence. But, since they are fresh additions, there is no doubt they require improvement. Nevertheless, these requests, like Nathan’s and Aidan’s, depend on the advocacy and support from the student body.
The latest construction update is the new road on the east side of the building, which is in its early stages but is still an exciting development Redeemer students can anticipate in the near future.
The Fall 2022 season also includes the launch of new programs in Redeemer’s academic sphere. Approved as a result from the passing OF Bill-213 by the Ontario Legislature, Redeemer is now offering a Bachelor of Kinesiology. Introducing a B.Kin. is a recent trend among universities, since it is more attractive for professional institutions.
Additionally, with a rapid increase in students enrolled in the business program, the Redeemer community witnessed the introduction of the School of Business and a new Bachelor of Business Administration. Third-year business major, Sarah Prins, felt motivated to pursue a BBA because it opens up more opportunities for her FUTURE. BUT, as Sarah remarks, “There is not much change in the BBA; it has similar courses and content. We did have to take a math course, but it could have easily been incorporated into Finance or Operations Management.”
For other business students, the business program has expanded into adopting a professional character, aligning with other schools to prepare students for the business environment. An impactful development in the School of Business is the new website launched last year. Sarah says that the website “gives good guidance of what to expect from the School of Business and its opportunities.”
There are also two new majors in the music department: honours major in church music ministry and general major in music in worship, both of which display a beautiful blend of music and theology. Students who enroll in those majors will explore music in a manner rooted in Scripture. They will look at historical perspectives in music from the church and prepare to lead traditional and contemporary styles of worship.
Outside of the degree programs, an important milestone in Redeemer’s history of academic growth is the official launch of the Albert M. Wolters Centre for Christian Scholarship on September 30, 2022. Formerly called the Centre for Christian Scholarship, this institution honours Dr. Al Wolters, the well-renowned scholar, theologian, and former professor at Redeemer, by conducting research in the area of public theology, hosting lectures, and offering the Emerging Public Intellectual Award.
The launch event concluded with Dr. Jonathan Juilfs presenting the awards for the student essay competition, given to Zachary Schenk, Naomi Avery, and Johnny Gordon, all of whom eloquently describes how the Reformed worldview plays an important part in their work and studies.
The keynote speaker Dr. Gayle Doornbos encouraged the Redeemer community to embrace the posture of curiosity, as it strengthens our desire to explore God’s world through academic research. Doornbos offers a key indication for how we ought to respond to these expansions in the academic sphere, which requires the exploration of interdisciplinary approaches, such as the music department’s incorporation of theology into their studies.
Student Senate is also playing a large role in attending to the changes of the Redeemer community. In a conversation with Student Senate president Marshall Chapman, his excitement for the new season was summarized in one word: “growth.” Marshall and the senate are well-prepared to serve as guides to the flourishing community of Redeemer. Marshall continued, “I am excited for the all-time high enrollment, new faces, exiting the pandemic, and seeing student life back to normal.
Marshall and the rest of the senate are likewise excited to announce their new position: the community engagement facilitator. Marshall said, “This position is designed to connect students to not only the Ancaster community but also the Hamilton community.” This year’s facilitator’s job, appointed to Joel Naves, involves managing community involvement and introducing many opportunities to serve in a Christ-like manner outside the borders of the Redeemer community. Additionally, there is also a head media team leader, another new position under the senate, appointed to Kristen Hogan.
Another important development by Senate is the monthly, emailed “Student Body Update,” inspired by a suggestion from a Crown article released in March 2022. These emails aim to inform the student body about student senate and how they plan to use student funds.
The Path and Its Meaning
In assessing these changing developments, Nathan Reid-Welford attributes it to Redeemer “hoping to revamp itself and build things coming out of COVID-19.” Given the “new focus on athletics with staffing changes, games at the Tim Hortons field, and adding new programs to the music department,” Nathan perceives Redeemer as aiming to present itself as a legitimate university. Generally speaking, the members of the Redeemer family are hopeful about finding their place in the university.
The last notable addition to the Redeemer is the Path or the rustic snake-like bench in the middle of campus. Ahead of time, Redeemer students were thrilled to see a new artistic addition on social media, but most students were unfamiliar with its significance as an artistic addition on campus. The Path is intended for passersby to pop a squat and “reflect on the journey God has set before them.” When reflecting on our journeys, it is no question that we are individually on the path of many journeys, whether it be our family, nation, or school.
This image is no doubt a valuable reminder for members of a Christ-centered community empowered by recent exciting developments: we will experience highs, we should anticipate lows, but our destination will be one of restoration, where all things will be made new (Revelation 21:5).