Grace University will cease all academic operations at the end of the 2017-2018 academic year. This decision was extremely difficult, and one that was not reached without fervent prayer in seeking God’s will for Grace’s future and before exhausting all attempts to address the University’s financial challenges. We are confident that the decision was necessary at this time to ensure, to the extent possible, the successful completion of the current year and to provide sufficient time for the necessary transition planning for all those affected by the closure. The economic difficulties Grace has encountered over the past several years were due mainly to declining enrollment while initiatives to grow enrollment were unsuccessful. The financial impact of those issues reached a level whereby the amount of cash required to continue operations beyond the current year could not be reasonably attained without putting the University at significant risk.
We thank the administrators, faculty and staff who have served the University so faithfully over its history. We especially thank our current students who, despite the recent institutional challenges, have supported GU by continuing to pursue their educational goals with us. We are also grateful for the many donors whose generosity has also assisted the University over the years. While there must be necessary grieving and sadness with this decision, the Board urges all to balance that with the joy of Grace University’s 75-year legacy of developing thousands of servant leaders for the home, the church and the world. During the remainder of this year, the Board will be exploring other ways in which the legacy of GU can continue through other means.
In the days ahead, the Trustee Board remains committed to the current mission of Grace University and pledges its full support to the administration in the critically important efforts to assist students, faculty and staff through this period of transition. A teach-out plan that will allow students to complete their degrees through specific arrangements with other institutions or through normal transfer procedures is under development. More details on the plan will be forthcoming pending approvals by the Higher Learning Commission and other regulatory agencies.
While this decision has been extremely difficult for the Board and all who are connected to Grace University, we are confident that our God will walk with us and before us though the remainder of this year and beyond. The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 55:22 “Cast your burden upon the Lord and he will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.” In Philippians 4:6 Paul writes, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”
Grace University Board of Trustees
For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again… Proverbs 24:16
The anticipation of finishing up the lion drawing filled me with excitement. I could not wait to share it with the team. At this point, I had spent nearly 21 hours drawing and praying over the team as I created the lion. I only had two small sections left to fill. We were driving along the freeway and I did not want to wait until we arrived at our destination so I pressed on in my drawing. The roads were smooth and I did not think it would interfere. Just as I started to draw, we hit a major bump in the road and I drew a a line across the section that messed up the design I was going to create. At first, I froze and gasped, but then I told myself, “Wait! Just as in life we must embrace the pain in order to grow, how can I embrace this mistake and use it for the glory of God?” I looked at it for a minute said a short, “Help me LORD!” prayer and then I had an idea. It was not the design I had originally intended, but it was beautiful in its own right. When someone gazes at the lion, they would never know that I had messed up when I only had about 10 minutes left in drawing when I had spent a total of 21 and a half hours preparing.
Sometimes, we mess up bad. We hit a major bump in the road, we make a choice that causes us to fall into the pit of sin. We say something we should not have or just choose the wrong path for a season. Instead of fighting God, we need to just embrace it and ask Him to help us move through it. Without our realizing it, it will become a part of God’s great design in how He grows our character. When we embrace our mistakes by owning them this is when God can use them.
Father, please help us to embrace our mistakes and give them over to You!
Simply, Dr. Tara Rye
Each year, Grace University faculty select the graduating man and woman who exemplify well-balanced Christian character, outstanding scholarship, and spiritual leadership consistent with the high ideals of Grace University.
As the winners of this important award, Hunter McNeel, Christian Ministry, and Elisa Castillo, Music Education, were presented with a symbol of the Servant Leadership pyramid of Grace University for showing strong evidence of the following seven characteristics:
- A biblically literate student.
- A critical thinker.
- An obedient disciple of Jesus Christ.
- An engaging citizen.
- A compassionate leader.
- A global Christian.
- An equipped professional.
As part of the award process, recipients shared how Grace University helped transform them and identified some of these distinctives that have come true in their lives.
Hunter shared, “There is nothing that our God cannot do. I have met people from around this world; and with all these people I hear the LORD’s love for them and His plan for them. God is moving around the world in ways beyond us, and I thank God for giving me such globally minded people at Grace to show me this awesome God that I am getting to know.”
Elisa followed with, “If I could summarize the greatest thing I learned during my time at Grace I would say: I learned that only someone who is an obedient disciple of Jesus, who has a surrendered heart, can experience abundant life, the kind of life God intends for us to have. And it is only when we have that kind of heart that other good goals, such as being biblically literate or an equipped professional, make total sense and can be fully met.”
This special award was established to honor Donald J. Tschetter who embodied the University’s mission and faithfully served the Lord at Grace University for 49 years from 1958 through 2007. In honor of their father, the children of Donald J. Tschetter presented the recipients with a financial award.
The summer months are normally quiet months for academic institutions—but not so at Grace University. The Trustee Board has taken decisive action to reemphasize Grace’s historic mission and to “right the ship” of Grace financially. To that end, the Board has appointed Dr. John Holmes as Interim President. John has been a professor at Grace, served as Academic Vice President and is a gifted teacher and communicator. John is a breath of fresh air in terms of leadership. The Board has also asked Bill Bauhard, a retired Omaha businessman, to serve in the role as Chief Executive Officer, overseeing personnel, finance and operational issues at Grace. Bill has served on the Board of Trustees and also as Grace’s Executive Vice President. Bill brings a sharp mind and proven skills, so necessary in dealing with the financial challenges facing Grace. It is exciting to see two such gifted men assuming these crucial roles at Grace. Please be in prayer for both of them.
One further note: The Board has also begun re-organizing and retooling itself as the governing board of Grace. Carlon Tschetter, Grace graduate and senior pastor of Covenant Community Church near Oklahoma City, is the new chairman of the board. Carlon brings a passion for Grace, for its mission and for its future. Please also be in prayer for Carlon and the rest of the Board.
Finally, you, our partners in the mission of Grace University, also play a strategic role in “righting the ship” of Grace. As I mentioned, please pray for these leaders and for our faculty and staff in this time of transition. We all need God’s grace and enablement. Would you also pray for our students, both returning and those newly enrolled at Grace? The faculty is as committed as ever to pursuing “academic excellence and life change” with our students. Your financial support is an essential component in all of this. Please be as generous as you can with your financial support. On behalf of our leadership team, our faculty and staff, and our students, thank you for your eternally significant investment!
In His mighty grasp,
James P. Eckman, Ph.D.
President Emeritus, Grace University