Higher Education

College cutting four majors

February 9, 2017
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Cornerstone University is a Christian liberal arts school in Grand Rapids that calls on students to “build a life that matters.” Photo via fb.com

A local college will “phase out” four majors at the end of the spring semester.

Cornerstone University said it will eliminate its journalism, photography, public relations and ancient studies programs.

The college will also discontinue its student newspaper, The Herald, founded in 1966, as well as its summer journalism camp for high school students, Cornerstone Journalism Institute.

Students who are currently enrolled in the journalism, photography and public relations majors will be able to complete their degrees, according to Shawn Newhouse, VP for traditional undergraduate academics, Cornerstone University.

There are currently no students enrolled in the ancient studies major.

The school will continue to offer biblical studies, Greek, history and philosophy, as it phases out the ancient studies program.

Bob Sack, VP for advancement at Cornerstone University, said the decision to phase out the four majors was made at the end of December as part of the university’s annual review of its academic programs.

The majors were targeted for elimination based on a lack of “student demand and also market demand,” he said.

He said a “very limited” number of students will be affected by the elimination of the four majors.

“It’s a definitive challenge or tension in higher ed, particularly with a liberal arts college, to balance sticking to the components of a historically steady curriculum with that of the demands of the marketplace,” Sack said.

Regarding the discontinuation of The Herald newspaper, he said it was a matter of readership.

“In all candor, the students don’t read it,” Sack said. “We all see the piles of newspapers around, and it’s a case of the younger demographic does not read the printed newspaper. We’ve seen that over the last couple, three years.”

New media majors

Sack said the university has “re-tooled” its offerings in response to the “changing face of media.”

Cornerstone will now offer five “enhanced and re-shaped” majors, including publishing, strategic communication, digital media, broadcast communication and professional writing, in an effort to teach similar concepts in a “market-sensitive” fashion.

Layoff

Sack said the sole layoff as the college phases out the four majors will be a single, three-part role: director of the journalism department, associate professor of journalism and Herald student newspaper advisor.

He called the decision “difficult” and “not a lightly assessed topic.”

Cornerstone

Founded in 1941, Cornerstone University is an independent, non-denominational Christian liberal arts school in Grand Rapids.

The school has undergraduate and graduate programs, two seminaries — Grand Rapids Theological Seminary and Asia Baptist Theological Seminary based in Chiang Mai, Thailand — and a radio division called Cornerstone University Radio, or 91.3 WCSG.

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