Trinity International to scrap in-person undergraduate programs in favor of online classes; ‘We know this … will be unwelcome news for some’ newstrendslive

Students at Trinity International University’s Deerfield campus are entering their final months of in-person instruction at the evangelical Christian school, which announced Friday its intention to discontinue its in-person, undergraduate offerings and move to a fully online model.

Trinity International University President Nicholas Perrin and board Chair Neil Nyberg announced the move in a release which said the school’s Board of Regents voted in favor of moving to “fully online courses and programs intended for global audiences” by the fall of 2023.

The letter mentions that Trinity “has not been immune” to national trends of declining undergraduate and graduate enrollments at some U.S. universities, “which have only been exacerbated by COVID-19 and subsequent economic instability,” and coincide with steadily rising costs to attend college.

U.S. News & World Report numbers show that Trinity had a total of 571 undergraduate students and a total enrollment of 1,454 students in the fall of 2020. More recent numbers were not immediately available.

In a 2017 file photo, high school students from across the country compete for top scholarships at Trinity International University.

Trinity will continue to offer its Bachelor of Arts and Master of Divinity in-person residential programs at its Evangelical Divinity School and Trinity Law School, which house fewer students than the university’s undergraduate programs.

Trinity’s board also voted to close down Camp Timber-lee in Wisconsin, gifted to the university in 2016, which Perrin and Nyberg wrote has “struggled to establish financial viability” before and after the university took it over.

In a separate statement, the university announced that the camp endured its largest financial deficits on record in 2020 and 2021 as the pandemic raged, and that the camp has operated at a $2.8 million cumulative loss since Trinity took over operations.

In-person graduate programs will continue, according to the release, at Trinity Law School in Santa Ana, California and the university’s Miami campus.

“As hard as such decisions may be, these moves are necessary steps for providing the University, not least our continuing residential programs at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and Trinity Law School, a strong foundation as it moves forward as an institution that is more missional, more accessible and more transformational than ever before,” the joint statement said.

“We know this new direction will be unwelcome news for some, but we believe this course of action will enable us to better serve the global church more effectively as we more closely align our mission — our ‘why’ — with these guiding principles,” the statement continued. “I recognize this letter will not answer all your questions, but we intend to provide additional details in the coming days through regular communications, chapels, special gatherings and other forums.”

Randall Balmer, a religion professor at Dartmouth who attended Trinity for his undergraduate education, and obtained his master’s degree from its divinity school, reflected on the “remarkable place” that Trinity was and expressed sadness at the move.

“For me, the college was a much more intellectually lively place, and shaped me in more profound ways than my experience at their divinity school,” Balmer said. “When they decided to close the college (in-person) rather than the divinity school, I found that really disappointing.”

Balmer said that the move is particularly unfortunate for current students, who will either have to transfer or enroll in the university’s new online programs in the fall.

“They’re having their education truncated, and they’re going to have to make other arrangements,” Balmer said. “This whole scheme about virtual education, it’s going to go nowhere I’m afraid. And as I said in my (online essay), I think it’s really antithetical to the kind of place that Trinity claimed to be, and was for so long.”

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