Government funding for Mennonite theological education

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

It is new territory for students enrolled in Conrad Grebel University College’s Master of Theological Studies program this fall. As the result of an agreement with the University of Waterloo, students in this Grebel program are registered for the first time as University of Waterloo graduate students.

Previously, the Graduate Theological Studies (GTS) program had no government funding, but a new focus on graduate level education has generated more interest and funding to a wide variety of graduate programs in Ontario.

This new milestone in our GTS program is the happy result of the good reputation we have established, a compelling vision for the future, and much goodwill among those who worked together to reach this agreement,

observed Jim Pankratz, Academic Dean at Conrad Grebel. He has been working with over 40 students who are enrolled and will ultimately graduate with a conjoint University of Waterloo/Conrad Grebel degree in theology.

The college is encouraging students to consider full-time studies, because the agreement provides more funding to the program based on its full-time enrolment. As a result there is a generous “Theological Studies Tuition Award” for the full tuition fee for all full-time students.

Katryn de Salaberry said,

Full-time studies suit my life at this point. It just so happens that my decision coincided with this tuition bursary - a lovely surprise!

De Salaberry also said that

receiving a degree from the University of Waterloo will be to my advantage because of University of Waterloo's reputation. I hope that this new relationship will allow Grebel to develop its program further.

Steven Park, an international student from Korea, added that this new arrangement offers him a better health insurance package than was previously available.

This new relationship with the University of Waterloo will involve program approval and regular program review by the Ontario Council of Graduate Studies. This will strengthen the relationship with the Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS) and the Toronto School of Theology (TST), making it easier for students to transfer credits between these schools.

This government funding for students and our program is unprecedented in Mennonite institutions in North America,

noted President Henry Paetkau. The funding helps to deliver a program that had previously only relied on endowment, donations, tuition and some revenue from Mennonite Church Eastern Canada. While it will not radically alter the program in admissions, hiring, and curriculum (all still handled through Grebel’s administration), this support augments a wide variety of scholarships and bursaries for graduate students.

With increased funding, larger scholarships, greater recognition, and a growing community, the college is hopeful that more students will explore this valuable option for theological education.

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