Arts & Entertainment and Higher Education

University closes curtain on theater program

April 3, 2014
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University closes curtain on theater program
Cornerstone University is a Christian school in Grand Rapids that calls on students to “build a life that matters.” Photo via fb.com

After careful consideration, a local university is discontinuing its academic theater program.

Cornerstone University, a Christian school in Grand Rapids, will no longer offer its theater major or minor, beginning this fall.

Current theater students will be able to complete their degree, and theater productions for all students will continue as part of extracurricular programming.

The university stages three to four full-scale productions each year and offers student produced and directed plays, musicals and scenes, according to its website.

The decision

Bob Sack, a Cornerstone University spokesperson, said the decision was difficult, due to the history of theater on campus, and based on several factors: a decline in students pursuing a major or minor in theater; evaluating which programs will offer growth for the university in the long term; and the difficulty in maintaining quality with the rising cost of productions.

“We don’t cancel programs often,” Sack said. “The number of theater majors have dropped down to 13. That’s not offering the same kind of growth as other academic programs.”

Some of the classes offered through the theater major involved play directing, principles of acting and ballet.

Sack added that the the decision isn’t a reflection of any financial problems, and the university is still committed to the arts.

Sack said, for instance, that Cornerstone University recently invested about $1.7 million to renovate and expand Matthews Auditorium and $1.6 million to updgrade the Gordon music building.

Re-allocating funds

The theater major and minor are offered as part of the division of communication and media at Cornerstone.

The funds from the theater program will be re-allocated to other areas with more long-term growth, as a way to strategically invest in development of the university.

A good portion of the funds will be directed toward the division of communication and media, Sack said.

Various majors and minors are offered through the division: audio production, communication studies, film and video production, graphic design and journalism.

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