Briercrest College and Seminary receives degree-granting authorization

Julie Cole | Apr 9, 2013
Briercrest President Dwayne Uglem greets Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall after Tuesday's chapel service. Photo by Viktor Karklins Briercrest President Dwayne Uglem greets Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall after Tuesday's chapel service. Photo by Viktor KarklinsBriercrest President Dwayne Uglem greets Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall after Tuesday's chapel service. Photo by Viktor Karklins

Expanded degree-granting is now a reality at Briercrest College and Seminary.

“I’m delighted to announce today that Briercrest College and Seminary . . . has received authorization to provide a bachelor of arts in humanities effective in July 2013,” Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said in the school’s chapel on Tuesday. “This is the first degree authorized under the Degree Authorization Act brought into being by the government. Prior to today, only the University of Saskatchewan – a great institution – and the University of Regina – another fine institution, had the authority to grant degrees other than theological degrees in the province of Saskatchewan.”

Earlier last week, the Saskatchewan Higher Education Quality Assurance Board (SHEQAB) approved Briercrest’s BA in humanities. This SHEQAB seal assures quality education like that found at Saskatchewan’s universities.

“This marks a brand new era for post-secondary education in the province and I think a new era for Briercrest,” Wall said as the chapel audience erupted into applause.

“We’re absolutely delighted to have arrived at this moment and this day,” Briercrest president Dwayne Uglem said. “We’re thrilled to be witnessing this historic moment both for Briercrest and really Saskatchewan higher education.”

Uglem explained what the SHEQAB approval means to Briercrest and its students.

“This approval tells us that another vital external witness has found us to be offering high quality education that is worthy of being called a bachelor’s degree in Canada,” he said. “For our BA humanities students, this gives them one more thing to tell employers and other institutions that would be assessing their degree and its recognition. It’s another endorsement for the studies they’ve completed.”

“Briercrest hasn’t made any change in this,” Uglem added. “Everything we’re doing, we’ve been doing for a very long time.”

This approval, which comes at the very end of Uglem’s nine-year term as Briercrest’s president, is a welcome reward for a very long and arduous process.

“There have been lots of moments where it felt like this journey could go on forever,” Uglem exclaimed. “But the minute we began to see a policy framework emerge, we knew that at least it was possible. It was just a matter of waiting to work through the procedure in the right way. So, the hope really came with the Degree Authorization Act being approved last June. As soon as that happened, we knew that the next steps were just a matter of time.”

In that time, Uglem worked with many government officials.

“I think I’ve worked with eight ministers since the journey began in my experience,” Uglem recounted. “I’ve worked with several deputy ministers and lots of government staff.”

Minister Don Morgan and former minister Rob Norris, who both have served as Minister of Advanced Education during Briercrest’s process, were especially helpful.

“It was a delight to work with Minister Norris through the beginning stages of this,” Uglem said. “He served us exceedingly well and Minister Morgan has picked up right after him and continued to see this move along and we’re deeply grateful for it.”

Uglem reserves special praise for Reg Urbanowski, Special Advisor to the Deputy Minister for the Government of Saskatchewan.

“His work has spanned at least three if not four ministers,” Uglem explained. “When all is said and done, much of the framework that we see in place has been worked out and fleshed out by Reg and his staff. What he’s brought to play in Saskatchewan is a really solid policy framework for quality assurance. He served the people of Saskatchewan very well with what he’s helped to create.”

Uglem says the plan is in place to also submit applications by the end of April for SHEQAB approval for BA degrees in English and history.

“Saskatchewan has created a quality assurance council and Briercrest was absolutely first in line to submit itself to it,” Uglem asserted. “Briercrest is going to continue to submit itself to it.”

“The trail is being blazed and will be blazed for the example we set here for other institutions,” Wall said. “Thank you for your leadership. Thank you for blazing this trail. We’re looking forward to the future in the province. We’re looking forward to post-secondary education in Saskatchewan. But, specifically, we’re really looking forward to what’s going to happen right on this campus as we go forward.”