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
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
Dear fellow classmates, former students and friends:
I am excited to let you know that during the recent Board of Trustees meeting the Trustees voted unanimously to appoint me as the interim president of Grace University. I accepted the position with eager anticipation. You may be aware that we are undergoing a period of transformation at Grace. But you are not aware of the many things that God is doing behind the scenes to launch us into a stable future. More on that later (but it is really exciting). We are not just looking to survive in the difficult landscape of Christian higher education, but our goal is to thrive.
Many of you have sat in class next to me, been taught by me, or served with me. Some of you have been backpacking and/or rock climbing with me. You know my commitment to Christ, His amazing grace, this school and my passion for its mission. The past few months have been challenging at Grace University and we have been blessed to see God move in what I would call specific and unusual ways. Chuck Swindoll once said, “We are all faced with a series of great opportunities brilliantly disguised as impossible situations.” We truly have a great opportunity before us as we analyze and restructure the University so that we can continue to train and develop the next generation of servant leaders.
Over the next few months, you will be receiving updates from Dr. Jim Eckman, president emeritus, and me asking for your support in tangible and intangible ways. I ask that you serve, pray and give as the Lord moves. When Paul spoke to the Church in Corinth, he reminded them “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:58). Paul’s words are relevant to us today. As you hear news from Grace, can I count on you to stand firm with us in our mission and continue with us in the kingdom work that we have been faithfully engaged in for the last 73 years?
I am optimistic about our future. Our leadership team has responsive hearts, the technical skills, and history with the school to serve our historic mission well. The students I have had in my classes recently have been great examples of the servant leaders we seek to produce. I am humbled and excited about the task set before us and thank you in advance for your support and prayers. This ministry has been going strong for almost 75 years, and I cannot wait to see how God moves in the next 75 years (even if I’m not around to witness it).
For His kingdom,
John D. Holmes, Th.M., Ph.D.
This July Dr. Troy Backhuus and Dr. Linda Vermooten of the Grace counseling program had the pleasure of leading a team of students on a cross-cultural trip to South Africa —a last minute change from the original trip to Chennai, India! Though the team was left with only three days to adjust to the new plans, it soon became apparent that this was the trip God had ordained all along.
During the first week in Muizenberg, the team debriefed YWAM staff and counseled church members in the area, and helped lead a children’s Bible camp with a church in one of the poorer neighborhoods. The second two weeks were spent across the country in Durban, with Open Door Crisis Centre. ODCC works a great deal with individuals who are experiencing domestic violence or who have been trafficked. Most of the women on the Grace team were lodged at a safe house, and were able to do some counseling with the women sheltered there, as well. The team was also blessed to be able to distribute toothbrushes and food parcels in some of the urban and rural communities in the surrounding area, as well as share their testimonies. They also taught several times on basic lay counseling skills, understanding and processing emotion, stress and conflict management, domestic violence and abuse, and a number of other topics. It was an incredible experience that the students and faculty will not soon forget!
The Grace University Orality class was invited to be the entertainment for Byron Bible Camp’s fund raiser in Huron, S.D. Seventeen students and volunteers made the 300-mile trip to support the ministry and share the Gospel. The students presented key Bible narratives with different creative orality strategies they learned during the fall semester.
Grace University students give more than 24,000 of community service each year. The students gave their time to serve and this was not part of a class assignment or an extra credit project.
“I talked with the group about the importance of sacrificial serving and doing something without the mindset of entitlement,” said Dr. Tara Rye, dean of women and course instructor. “I am proud of them. The entire class rearranged work schedules and homework to make this trip a reality.” The study of orality is a purposeful way of learning to transmit the Bible through a relational and social way so the stories can spread rapidly as an effective tool for evangelism and discipleship.
“The Bible is God’s word to us and it is 75% story. I am studying orality so that I can learn the stories of the Bible well in order to share them with others in the hopes of leading nonbelievers to Christ, as well as encouraging believers,” said Lauren Witteveen, junior Intercultural Studies major from Washington state. “The majority of people prefer to hear a story over a lecture, so I want to share the Gospel in a way that connects with people by telling Bible stories.”