Preparing Biola for the future
Implementing the academic calendar is an act of Christian stewardship. | Tomber Su/THE CHIMES [file]
We are a university that is and must increasingly be focused on the future in order to best meet the needs of you, our students: your need to be educated in mind and character to make a difference in the world for Christ, your need to be hired into meaningful vocations, your need for a quality and affordable education, your need for resources and support as you complete your degree.
To do all of this, in recent years we have looked at Biola in a comprehensive way, evaluating the big picture of what, how and why we do what we do. And so it was that several years ago I encouraged our faculty and administrative leaders to prepare the university not for more of what we have been doing but to prepare us more for where we are going. This was outlined in a 2015 presentation to the Biola community entitled “A Case for Change.” For Biola University to reach the next level of excellence required a collective resolve. This is especially true as we enter an era in higher education that is full of challenges and uncertainty due to demographic shifts, technological advances, changing educational delivery and economic constraints.
Rest assured, Biola is on solid footing and we are taking proactive steps to address these shifts. I am pleased to report that our faculty and staff are developing, coordinating and implementing a number of new and/or expanded academic programs, as well as updating and streamlining administrative processes, that will help Biola students flourish now and into the future. The 2017-18 academic calendar change to include an expanded summer term, and updating systems to increase the availability of online courses, are some examples of this.
A relevant and redemptive voice
Additionally, our Case for Change meant we needed to be more cost-efficient and to grow revenue outside of the traditional tuition model. One of the more comprehensive exercises we have undertaken began a year ago in what we are calling the Academic and Administration Prioritization Process, what The Chimes covered in its news story last week. Like colleges around the country who are going through this year-long review of all their academic and administrative programs, we are doing this to assure our strength long into the future. This seemed to us a wiser process than a simplistic attempt to reduce costs through across-the-board reductions that can sometimes do more harm than good.
The first phase of this process required budget managers to answer questions around supply and demand, efficiencies and other pertinent information about their respective areas. As part of the second phase in the process, two teams of 14 volunteer staff and faculty each reviewed the academic and administrative templates submitted from 315 different programs. This was good and challenging work as the teams reported back with ideas about what programs should be maintained, which ones should be given additional resources, which ones should be phased out or have reduced resources, or which ones should require substantive change. I am proud of the task forces and their diligent work, as well as the many staff and faculty who have reviewed and provided more than 1,200 pieces of feedback on these reports over the past two weeks. This was the third phase of the process.
Starting in April, we will begin the fourth stage as the vice presidents and I review the task force reports and community input, with the goal of making decisions to prepare Biola for its strongest future.
We are doing this as an act of Christian stewardship. I still hope and pray that Biola will continue to become among the world’s foremost Christ-centered universities, a community abiding in truth, abounding with grace and compelled by Christ’s love to be a relevant and redemptive voice in a changing world.