The Way Forward

President Greg Christy


Steve Jobs said you have to know your why. Apple sells computers and electronic devices; it’s what they do. Their why, though, is improving lives. Similarly, at Northwestern what we do is confer degrees. But why?

As Dutch immigrants were plotting Orange City in 1871, one-fifth of town lot proceeds was set aside for a school of higher learning characterized by academic rigor and Christian principles. Why? To transform lives. That was Northwestern’s why when it was founded in 1882, and it’s our why today. This is no small task and requires the hand and grace of God, as well as dedicated faculty, staff, alumni, parents and friends.

The opening of the Jack and Mary DeWitt Family Science Center this fall capped several years of capital improvements that have transformed our beautiful campus. Our 2023 strategic plan, recently approved by the Board of Trustees, identifies other transformations to guide us to new levels of distinctive Christ-centered education.

Our vision is to be the leading Christian liberal arts college focused on student success and Christ-centered work for the common good (see 1 Corinthians 12:7 and Jeremiah 29:7). Our plan has five strategic goals:

  1. Advance the quality and reputation of the academic program.
  2. Prepare students for meaningful work and flourishing lives.
  3. Pursue strategic enrollment growth.
  4. Embrace and celebrate cultural and ethnic diversity.
  5. Secure the human and financial resources to advance strategic initiatives.

Each goal includes a specific plan of action for achieving it. For example, in pursuit of goal 1, we’ve launched a faculty-led innovation lab focused on enhancing learner-focused teaching because we must innovate to thrive among the current disruption in higher education.

Goal 2 strengthens our ability to help students navigate the journey from college to career. Initiatives aim to provide students with impactful experiences outside the classroom so they can apply their education to meaningful work.

Under goal 3 we are developing and resourcing an integrated marketing strategy that enhances Northwestern’s reputation for intellectual rigor, vocational success and select programs of strength.

We long to embody our Vision for Diversity, so goal 4 initiatives compel us to reflect more closely the diversity of God’s kingdom among our leadership, staff and students.

Finally, with goal 5, we are evaluating our resources—including human resources—to identify areas of opportunity for advancing this strategic plan. We have been blessed to have the two largest years of giving (over $18.4 million) in the history of Northwestern by alumni, parents and friends of the college. Praise the Lord for their generosity! With their continued commitment and the grace of God, Northwestern College has a plan for the way forward into an even more vibrant future.

Ultimately, our goal is achieving Northwestern’s why: life transformation so students are empowered and equipped to pursue God’s redeeming work in the world.

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