Grace College celebrates its 2020 incoming class of 459 students — the second-largest in school history. Despite the uncertainty of an economic recession and global health pandemic, Grace’s incoming class is 13% larger than last year and is the most socioeconomically and racially diverse of all time. The new class also brings an impressive number of athletes. A total of 145 incoming students will compete in one of Grace’s 18 varsity sports, eight JV teams, or five club sports, including the new Esports and bowling teams.
“The only proper response is a word of praise to God!” said Grace College President Dr. Bill Katip in response to the strong college enrollment. “This year was one of the most unpredictable years of my 46 years in higher education. We are here on campus with our second-largest class because of the Lord and His grace – there’s no question about that,” he explained.
Grace College’s 2020-2021 campus theme is “Journey.” Throughout the year, the theme will carry through to chapel, where students will be challenged from the book of Proverbs. President Katip explained that the theme is not just relevant to students but also to the institution at large. Grace College’s path forward in the midst of a global health pandemic is its own kind of journey – and it involves introducing new and dynamic advanced degrees.
“We see it necessary to continue to invest in and diversify our accelerated master’s degree offerings. In light of the economic challenges, we are giving our graduates every advantage in the marketplace that we can. We want to develop service-oriented leaders with a high level of competence regardless of the field they pursue, from business to education, ministry to the arts and sciences,” said Katip.
In the spring of 2021, Grace will begin a partnership with Purdue University through a consortium agreement to enable Grace students to earn credits online toward a Purdue master’s degree. This will position them to complete their master’s rapidly after graduating and then enter the workforce with two degrees.
Additionally, Grace Theological Seminary is offering new and more affordable Master of Divinity (M.Div.) and Doctor of Ministry (D.Min.) degree programs which have seen a surge in enrollment this fall semester. The M.Div. can be completed as part of the school’s accelerated degree option which allows students to earn their bachelor’s and master’s simultaneously. Also in the seminary, Deploy — Grace’s competency-based seminary program — saw a staggering 60% growth rate this year.
Several traditional undergraduate programs have implemented new, innovative features for students this fall. The Department of Engineering and the Exercise Science Program both added state-of-the-art equipment this year, taking their programs to the next level. The Exercise Science Program purchased a COSMED VO2 max machine. Exercise Science Director Christina Walters plans to use the technology to enhance students’ learning and unleash more community service opportunities. The Engineering Department purchased a Haas Mini-Mill, commonly known as a computer numerical control CNC machine. This will expose students to machinery used on the manufacturing floor and position them to step into a future job with confidence.
“In addition to these growing numbers, thriving programs, and new initiatives, we continue to hear stories of our graduates leading lives of purpose even in unfavorable circumstances,” said Katip. “These stories provide assurance that our mission matters and there is hope in our journey,” he said.