A Whole Education for Your Whole Life

President Greg Christy


Three years ago, Northwestern administrators and leaders developed a new strategic plan that was adopted unanimously by our faculty and the Board of Trustees. At the outset of our plan, we identified several environmental factors that are rapidly changing higher education:

  • An aging population in the U.S. and abroad that will challenge us to build on our commitment to serve a traditional student body while addressing the changing needs of a large older population.
  • The growth of various technologies as learning and social tools that will continue to change higher education delivery and culture.
  • A world that will continue to shrink as our access to people and places improves, bringing the nations to our doorstep and challenging us to find ways to connect with people around the globe.

Given these realities, one of the five overarching goals of our strategic plan was to develop comprehensive and mission-based distance education programs that leverage our existing strengths and respond to the needs of traditional and non-traditional students who desire a more affordable and accessible Christian liberal arts education.

Our belief, confirmed by market research, was that there are many adult students who would love to complete their bachelor's degrees or continue their education beyond a bachelor's, but we would need to create online degree-completion and graduate programs for them. Our former provost, Dr. Jasper Lesage, hired Dr. Rebecca Hoey four years ago to develop our higher education options for adults. Through Jasper's leadership, Rebecca's tenacity, and the hard work of many faculty members, we now have several programs for adults, including our first two online master's degree programs in education and an online graduate certificate in the management of international development.

The response from alumni and other adult students to these new programs—especially the graduate-level programs—has been affirming. Both master's degree programs—in teacher leadership and early childhood education—have strong enrollment this summer. And early signs point to healthy enrollment for the international development program that launches this fall.

It has always been a part of Northwestern's DNA to adapt when the needs of those we serve change. We began as a classical academy and transformed over the years to a junior college and teacher's college, later becoming a four-year Christian liberal arts institution. Through all these stages of our growth, one thing has remained constant—our mission: Northwestern College is a Christian academic community engaging students in courageous and faithful learning and living that empowers them to follow Christ and pursue God's redeeming work in the world.

Our world is in desperate need of courageous and faithful leaders and servants, whether they are traditional 18-year-olds, 22-year-old college grads, or older learners. We are pleased to now be able to offer our distinctively Christian education to students of many ages and stages of life virtually anywhere in the world.

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