For years, Corban University has had a solid relationship with the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, which has helped the University expand its Salem campus and educational opportunities for its students.
Now, instead of building new structures, a generous $337,000 grant from the trust will allow Corban to become a leader in ministry education and continue to fulfill its mission to train men and women who will make a difference in the world for Jesus Christ.
“Together, we hope to break new ground in ministry education by re-examining what it means to educate students in the age of technology, mobility and the Internet,” said Brian Schmidt, Chief Information Officer at Corban.
The grant will be used to create a virtual campus that is more than an online syllabus and video recordings, but one that is interactive, life-changing and relevant to both ministry students and the communities Corban seeks to serve. Students will be able to attend live webinars and videochats to stay connected with their professors and fellow students, while never needing to come to Corban’s Salem or Tacoma campuses.
“The upgraded online capabilities will enable us to pursue a School of Ministry dream and goal of bringing high quality ministry training to those without access to campus programs,” said Dean of Ministries Greg Trull. “Church leaders will be able to get the training they need without leaving their present ministry. Churches will be able to keep capable young leaders instead of sending them away to seminary. We believe this will benefit both those leaders and their churches.”
According to the grant application, “There will also be a significant effort to provide students with access to information resources that support, enhance and elaborate on the course work. We are aiming at ‘e-Everything’ as we develop this program. No more theological journals and commentaries left to gather dust on library shelves year after year; no more $130 textbooks that are begrudgingly purchased and seldom used.”
Instead, the $337,000 M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust grant will focus on electronic textbooks and online research materials. Students will use e-Readers, tablet computers or similar PDAs to have access to their coursework anywhere in the world.
At first, Garrett Trott, Corban’s reference and instructional librarian, was concerned about how many books would be available in electronic format. However, he quickly discovered 40 percent of the books used in the ministry department at Corban were available online through Amazon.com. Other materials are available electronically through a variety of publishers.
The grant also includes funds to explore a number of ways to digitize the University Library’s extensive theological collection.
“Our goal to make online education as effective or more effective than traditional live classrooms,” Trull said.
The grant doesn’t just benefit the School of Ministry. Trull hopes the lessons learned and tools used will allow other departments to implement degree programs students can take entirely online.
The School of Ministry will begin offering fully accredited online Master of Arts in Christian Leadership and Master of Divinity degrees in fall 2012. Corban will be the only accredited university in the Pacific Northwest to grant ministry degrees through fully online courses.
For more information about the Corban University School of Ministry’s graduate degree programs, visitwww.corban.edu/graduate/ministry or contact the Corban School of Ministry Admissions Department at 877-311-6104 or CUSM@corban.edu.