Citing “the benefit of hindsight and a deeper understanding of the circumstances at hand,” the Board of Redeemer University College recently issued an internal and public apology to Dr. Derek Schuurman. “We wish to express our profound regret for the way in which Dr. Schuurman lost his position at Redeemer University College in 2016,” stated Karl Veldkamp, who was serving as Board Chair at the time of the apology.
Schuurman led Redeemer’s former Computer Science department from 2003 to 2014. After an enrolment decline of over 300 students, the university restructured in 2014 to address the decline and to meet financial challenges. This 2014 program restructuring included closing the Computer Science department and the resulting end of Dr. Schuurman’s professor of computer science role.
In 2014, when the Computer Science department was eliminated, the university indicated that Dr. Schuurman would return to Redeemer to head a new program in Information Systems, following a year as a visiting professor at Dordt College. But the new program never materialized and the position was subsequently eliminated as a result of ongoing budget challenges at that time. “The Board felt the move was consistent with good stewardship over financial resources,” said Veldkamp. “However, in that decision, the Board failed to fully account for the commitments made to Dr. Schuurman — and the costs to him, in terms of his professional life and family — and in that way we failed in our responsibility to deal fairly and honourably with our faculty.”
Dr. Schuurman is now serving as professor of computer science at Calvin College. His expertise in the intersections of faith and technology is seen in both his scholarship and the impact he has had on Redeemer students and alumni. “We know that Derek will be a true asset to the Calvin academic community,” Veldkamp continues. “We also recognize his continued support for the founding mission of Redeemer through his continued scholarship in Christian higher education.”
Dr. Schuurman expressed his appreciation for this acknowledgement and public gesture of reconciliation, and noted that he remains a strong supporter of the school’s founding mission. Three of Dr. Schuurman’s children have or are attending the university.
As for the university, the Board has resolved to do better in the future as it continues to lead Redeemer through a challenging time in its history. “Together, we seek God’s blessings upon Redeemer,” said Veldkamp, “and upon the continuing efforts of Dr. Schuurman for the years ahead.”