Briercrest puts itself under the microscope

Posted: August 8, 2011

By Julie Cole

2011 alumni results were encouraging.

Briercrest alumni believe in their alma mater.

This was evident in the results of an on-line survey Briercrest sent out to alumni evaluating how their college/seminary experience has impacted their lives.

The results were very encouraging.

“Ninety percent of those who responded said they were satisfied or very satisfied with the education they got,” said June Clark, vice president of Enrolment. “Over 90 percent recommend Briercrest as a place to study for their children, friends and family. That is hugely significant.”

Clark says that the healthy response rate for the questionnaire (25%) shows that Briercrest alumni have an interest in communication and connection with their alma mater.

“We’ve just started the email newsletters,” Clark explained. “We are increasing the number of times we communicate with (alumni). We do want to hear their feedback.”

The comprehensive survey was conducted as part of Briercrest’s submission to the government in its move forward toward degree- granting status.

“Our goal as we move forward toward degree-granting at a university level is that whoever we’re graduating understands the broad spectrum of ministry – whether it’s vocation or lay ministry,” Clark said. “The goal is lives of service. I certainly see our alumni demonstrating that and I see our students understanding that and that to me is probably one of the most exciting things here.”

The survey reflects how Briercrest alumni continue in their faith and service both inside and outside of the church. Between 87 and 88 per cent reported that they still attend church in some form every week. Sixty- three per cent reported regular involvement in community service activities within the last year.

Clark, a Briercrest alumnus herself, returned to work at Briercrest partly because of the caliber of alumni she encountered in her work within the healthcare sector.

“I’d been hiring Briercrest graduates (among other people) over the last two decades,” Clark explained. “What I found very consistently is a number of things . . . that helped some of the Briercrest grads . . . perform in a stellar way in the workplace. Most of them have to do with character . . . character development, moral and ethical development, communication skills, and the ability to address issues of personal life. As our alumni look backwards, those are (skills) that they felt we contributed to greatly.”

Although the survey’s main reason was for the government self-study, it is also helping the leadership to examine the future of Briercrest.

“It’s something we’re looking at as a cabinet with our president,” Clark said. “As we continue to look at program development and look strategically for how we can both provide the best possible education for students . . . as well as partner with the church both for those who are interested in vocational ministry and . . . in lay ministry as well.”

Seventy per cent of the survey respondents said they are confident that Briercrest has stayed faithful to its mission.

“We were so wonderfully, pleasantly surprised,” Clark exclaimed. “It affirmed that what we have been doing is good and affirms the direction we’re going overall.”

Clark says graduates of Briercrest receive “more than a degree” because of the community atmosphere.

“The community aspect of what we do here – the discipleship and mentoring – I’ve seen that be nothing but beneficial for both society as well as students understanding how to live in healthy relationships. Lives of service aren’t limited to Christian organizations, necessarily. (Our students) are living as productive, engaged people in the societies in which they are planted.”