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Sin U

Jennifer L. Holberg will be away from the blog for several weeks. Her replacement is T. Jefferson Underhill. Underhill, thinking about a career change, is a Professor of Humanities.

For Immediate Release:
Local College Faces Future

Sinai Christian College, long known in the region for its traditional approach to liberal arts education, faces new challenges with the revolutionary changes in the 21st century educational market.

“We simply cannot survive with the business model of the past,” said Dean of Institutional Awareness, Thomas Horeb. “We are quite excited to try out new initiatives in our adaptation to this new landscape,” Horeb added. “Our aim is not merely to survive but to thrive,” said Sinai President Gerald Highfield.

A name change is among the transitions announced at a recent press conference. Arguing that the college must diversify its offering and programs, Highfield announced new appellation for the institution. The college, which has its origins in the post-Civil War era, will henceforth be known as Sinai University.

Anticipating the humor of the moniker, “Sin U,” Highfield suggested that the publicity alone would be a marketing bonanza. “Though some faculty grumbled about dropping the adjective “Christian,” most realize that we need to take great care not to close ourselves off from any potential student,” said Horeb. “Those faculty who retreat into academic pitter-patter over necessary changes are not the sort of folks we want in any case,” he added.

Other changes include a business study of the potential use of properties donated to the college over the years. “We have a handful of houses and other buildings that have come to us from alumni and other donors,” said Dean of Facilities, Dustin Rhodes. “Our job is to figure out how to use these properties to invest in our future,” he added.

One proposal includes transforming a former office building into a hotel. Other possibilities include coffee houses and gift shops. “We need to take advantage of tourism and commerce in this region,” said Rhodes. This may seem like a departure from the essential mission of a Christian institution,” admitted Highfield, “but times are changing and we must change with them.”

“Sinai University will be at the forefront in offering new programs,” said Dean of Initiatives, Lillian Lacks. “Our strategic investigations tell us that a new wind is blowing, and we are setting our sails in place. All of our curricular offerings will be on-line, of course, and we will advertise a full plate of accelerated studies for professionals returning to school for certifications and the like,” she added. New programming also includes additions to the sports offerings at the university, according to Evan Runner, Dean of Sports Administration. “We are looking at field hockey, UFC club boxing, and a return to football as part of this initiative, “said Runner. Sinai Christian abandoned its football program in the 2310’s when its teams had accumulated a string of losing seasons stretching back for more than a decade. “The return to football will simply give us a place in the university landscape,” said Runner; “we simply cannot ignore those ESPN opportunities for revenue and publicity.”

“The Sinai brand will bring new vigor and diversity to the region,” said Highfield. “We want Sinai to be a place where students experience smooth sailing,” said Provost Edward Lessing. “There’s no place anymore for the college experience as speculation and disturbance,” he added. “The 21st century customer wants a clear path to a credential that leads to job security; that’s what we intend to offer. Some of our faculty suffer from nostalgia disorder; they simply cannot come to terms with the inevitable,” said Lessing. Sinai University anticipates, therefore, significant changes in staffing going forward. “We will need to be leaner and meaner to make it in the current market,” said Highfield.

Lessing added an analogy to the old-style cafeteria. “Our university is like one of those places where you pick up your tray and walk through the line choosing those dishes that appeal. The idea is that your choices will lead to a particular job in a field that will be rewarding in every way.”

Current Sinai students will be offered the opportunity to graduate with the former moniker, Sinai Christian College, in the bold print on their diploma. Students seem divided over the new initiatives, some expressing regret about the changing ethos, others yielding to the inevitable. “I came here for the small classes and the emphasis on faith-related study,” said Sinai junior, Elizabeth De Koter. Now it seems that we are to be like all the other institutions out there, she added. Michael Wisdom, a senior from Kankakee, was more positive. “We have to stay in the flow, in the mainstream,” he said. “It is cutthroat out there in higher education,” he added; “and we mustn’t let the past dictate the future.”

Jennifer L. Holberg

I am professor and chair of the Calvin University English department, where I have taught a range of courses in literature and composition since 1998. An Army brat, I have come to love my adopted hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Along with my wonderful colleague, Jane Zwart, I am the co-director of the Calvin Center for Faith and Writing, which is the home of the Festival of Faith and Writing as well as a number of other exciting endeavors. Given my interest in teaching, I’m also the founding co-editor of the Duke University Press journal Pedagogy: Critical Approaches to Teaching Literature, Language, Composition and Culture. My book, Nourishing Narratives: The Power of Story to Shape Our Faith, was published in July 2023 by Intervarsity Press.

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