Global Campus plans for expansion, four new grad programs next fall


Calvin plans to offer 9 new online graduate degree programs.

As departments and services across campus are impacted by the summer’s budget cuts, plans for Calvin’s Global Campus remain strong. Still in its formative stages, the initiative will serve to increase enrollment and, perhaps more importantly, spread Calvin’s mission, said Kevin den Dulk, associate provost for the Calvin Global Campus.

“The Global Campus exists because we believe in the strength of our mission and only secondarily because we’re trying to build enrollment,” said den Dulk.

This fall den Dulk and his team introduced Calvin’s first online master’s program, offering a 30-credit flexible option for teaching professionals to get their Master of Education. Next fall, the Global Campus will roll out four new online master’s in GIS, exercise science, public health, and business administration.

“We know anecdotally that there’s a lot of interest, a lot of demand there. The leaders of those programs get inquiries weekly – probably daily,” den Dulk said. “We expect a lot of demand there, but we have to wait to see what that’s going to look like in Fall 2021.”

While it’s too early to gauge the success of online master’s programs, projections made in conjunction with master’s partner Wiley Education Services, an online program manager, show high demand, den Dulk said, adding that focus on online learning and public health due to the pandemic are expected to increase demand in some areas. “In two years, that’s my plan: to blow things out of the water with enrollment,” he said.

But online master’s programs aren’t nearly all the Global Campus has to offer. In its attempts to bring Calvin’s mission to yet unreached learning communities, the initiative oversees the Calvin Prison Initiative, Spanish immersion courses, Calvin’s Ready for Life program, adult learner courses, and proposed courses for degree completion and world languages.

This summer, the initiative’s first offerings of specialized adult learner courses, entitled “Christian Witness in a COVID-shaped World,” were one of its biggest successes to date, den Dulk said. More than 250 adult learners from 23 states, four Canadian provinces, and 13 countries participated in classes like “Crisis Communication Practices” and “Christian Responses to Pandemics in Historical Perspective.”

Although still too early in its development to have a long list of programmatic success, each of the Global Campus’ outreaches is poised for growth. den Dulk said he plans to see CPI’s reach expand with the assistance of newly obtained Pell Grants as well as programs for correctional officers, who have few existing opportunities to meet the educational expectations of their jobs.

The initiative’s Spanish immersion program offers dually enrolled high school students a chance to take higher level Spanish courses than their schools can provide. If successfully completed, students earn the equivalent of a Spanish minor while still in high school. With 13 students currently taking part in the program on campus, den Dulk said agreements have been made with several other high schools to expand access to the program.

Thanks to a recent grant obtained by the education department, Calvin’s partnership with the Ready for Life Academy is expected to grow to include on-campus living opportunities for students with intellectual disabilities as soon as the fall 2021 semester. “We have every reason to believe Ready for Life will grow,” said den Dulk. “There’s a lot of demand, a lot of interest in it.”

Because its funding comes from outside the university’s operating budget, the Global Campus has been able to continue its growth despite the summer’s budget cuts.

“As we go forward in time, the Global Campus will be paying its own way. The budget cuts that Calvin experienced more generally don’t affect us in a direct way,” said den Dulk.

The cuts have, however, indirectly impacted program development. Each of the Global Campus’ programs relies on at least one key partner, like the Michigan Department of Corrections or Calvin’s Spanish department and many support services like CIT and financial aid. With budget cuts and layoffs restricting university departments and services’ abilities to contribute to partnerships, it’s become a balancing act for some of supporting existing educational efforts and the Global Campus’ opportunities for expansion. Though working with faculty and academic departments to offer new online programs has admittedly become more difficult, den Dulk said he embraces such issues as “areas of challenge.”

The ability to rise to these challenges, den Dulk credits to his team.

“Where I really see the greatest success is just an awesome team that’s helping to build capacity for the university,” the associate provost stated, expressing confidence in the ability of all those working to increase enrollment and spread Calvin’s mission to new communities.