Hubert R. Krygsman is departing as President of Redeemer University College in the second year of his second five-year term leading the
660 726 undergraduate student liberal arts university located in Hamilton.
The university made the announcement in a short email statement this afternoon.
Redeemer University College today announced that — by mutual agreement between the Board of Governors and President Hubert R. Krygsman — President Krygsman will step down from the office of President of Redeemer University College, effective October 31, 2016.
This decision comes after several years in which Redeemer has experienced significant challenges in enrolment and operating budget, and in the broader post-secondary landscape and cultural environment.
Redeemer is a full degree granting university and a member of the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada.
Enrollment Decline of Over 200 Students in Past Three Years
The past few years have been difficult for the institution as competition for undergraduate students has increased across Ontario as institutions create more student spaces to pad their budgets.
Redeemer’s enrollment dropped to
660 726 students in fall 2015, from a peak of 870 959 in both 2010 and 2012.
Redeemer’s decreased enrollment is putting pressure on the institution’s budget, as discussed in this 2014 student newspaper article.
Redeemer is a private institution and students pay an average of $15,982 per year in tuition compared to the average $6,482 a year at Ontario’s public universities. Redeemer had a previous arrangement – later disallowed by Canada Revenue Agency – that allow parents to donate to a foundation which then contributed the funds to their child’s education.
Private Christian universities are also facing a reputation challenge because of Trinity Western University’s legal battles to have its law school recognized by the law societies in Ontario and British Columbia.
Trinity prohibits sexual activity between same-sex married couples. The Law Society of Upper Canada ruled this to be discriminatory and barred graduates of the law school from joining the Bar in Ontario. The Ontario Court of Appeal upheld the LSUC decision in a June ruling.
Krygsman’s contract was renewed in 2015, and last week was his annual performance review. While the details remain confidential. by early July, most institutions have a clear indication of their fall 2016 enrollment figures – if they were not improving, the Board would need to implement major changes to address enrollment.
Finding a New President
The challenge facing Redeemer will be finding a new president with the charisma and plan to attract new students, secure new donations to sustain and grow the campus, manage the internal tensions which will result from tight budgeting this year, and waive the fine line of appealing to both traditional Christians and progressive Christians in mapping a future for Redeemer as an institution rooted in Christian morality within the modernizing social norms of younger Christians.
The challenge is great, but so is the opportunity. Canada is without any public teaching liberal arts colleges, all of our small universities now have faculty contracts in place focused upon tenured research and sessionals teaching.
For Hamilton, Redeemer is a major contributor to our local economy, its students play a significant role in our community events as both participants and volunteers. The City may need to step up and help the institution, not by direct funding, but with better city services such as, finally, providing full HSR service to the campus as students have requested for years.
[Tues, Jul 19, 1900GMT] – I’ve enjoyed a fruitful dialogue with Redeemer’s communications manager and numerous Redeemer alumni during the past 24 hours. There’s definitely a lot of work happening behind the scenes to address Redeemer’s decreasing enrollment.
A very good read is a post entitled “I Heard Redeemer is in Trouble” by Redeemer’s communications staff in September of 2015 on the topic of decreasing enrollment and budget cuts. Here’s an excerpt, I encourage you to visit their site and read the full post:
During the 2014-15 academic year, difficult choices had to be made. In direct response to shrinking tuition revenue, nine staff and faculty were released. Such decisions, although they help bring greater financial stability, always come at an unwanted price: individuals suffer personal loss, hurt and grief, and our community as a whole grieves their loss and feels uncertain about the future.
After 20 years of stable and growing enrolment, the accreditation of degree programs and the graduation of thousands of students who are impacting their communities, navigating these choppy waters is a relatively unfamiliar challenge for Redeemer. Our communication hasn’t been as timely or informative as needed, and mistakes were made in not sharing these challenges more fully. As a result, students, alumni, supporters, community members and others have heard only that “Redeemer is in trouble,” but they aren’t sure why or what the future holds.
We want to take this opportunity to address those questions, rumours and concerns. You share in our mission and calling. It is important that we share what is happening with you. We also want you to know that Redeemer remains a vibrant, dynamic institution that is confidently moving forward to carry out our Reformed Christian mission in the changing world of higher education.
Four primary challenges face Redeemer in the current context of higher education in Ontario.