Dordt University ranks number one for “Best Undergraduate Teaching (Regional Colleges Midwest)” in the U.S. News and World Report’s 2022 rankings. This means that Dordt is a school where “faculty and administrators are committed to teaching undergraduate students in a high-quality manner,” as described in the rankings’ methodology statement.
“I am excited and proud that our talented and hard-working faculty are being recognized in this way,” says Dr. Teresa Ter Haar, who serves as dean of curriculum and instruction as well as a theatre professor. “Given the challenges that Covid-19 presented our campus community over the last year and a half, it is especially encouraging that our faculty are being recognized for teaching excellence. It reveals the commitment Dordt’s faculty make—and continue to make every day—to connect with students and provide robust learning experiences.”
Rankings come and go, says Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Leah Zuidema, but Dordt students know that faculty are here for them—and that they’re here to stay.
“Faculty are committed to our students and to teaching with excellence and with biblical truth,” says Zuidema. “This ranking is a public recognition of what our students already know—that they have faculty who are invested in them, who are skilled at what they do, who care deeply, and who want to create meaningful learning experiences.”
One of Ter Haar’s favorite responsibilities is to visit classrooms across campus as part of Dordt’s faculty development program. While sitting in on classes, she watches faculty shepherd rich discussions, engage in hands-on activities with students, give lectures, facilitate labs, and ask great questions. She sees how great teaching can inspire students to learn well.
“Without inspirational teachers to model inquiry, intellectual determination, creative problem-solving, and openness to other perspectives, our students might complete their undergraduate degrees prepared for a job, but not be as prepared to think deeply, question appropriately, or act justly in our increasingly fraught culture,” she says.
Faith shapes how Dordt faculty approach teaching—which is different from how teaching might be approached at some colleges and universities, says Zuidema. Dordt faculty teach with the Educational Frameworkin mind, specifically focusing on how students “should be able to discern, evaluate, and challenge the prevailing spirits and worldviews of our age in the light of God’s Word and our reformational perspective.”
“At Dordt, we talk about being scripturally rooted and understanding the themes of God’s Word as revealed to us in Scripture. Whether it’s our Core Program, majors, residence life design, academic enrichment, or student services, we recognize the guiding role of the Bible,” she adds. “There’s a beginning and an end that’s different for a Dordt professor, and it starts with God’s good design as outlined biblically and an understanding that we’re participating in the kingdom of God.”