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New Perspectives at Newbold

The beginning of the new academic year brought new perspectives to Newbold with the arrival of new staff, new students, new topics of study, and plans to enhance the ‘student experience’ by bringing to life old favourites with fresh ideas.

Newbold’s Department of Theological Studies (DTS) was joined by Dr Tom de Bruin in early August. Himself a Newbold graduate, Tom is the former Executive Secretary for the Netherlands Union Conference, and teaches Greek and other New Testament modules. He has spearheaded the introduction of a new postgraduate module, New Testament Exegesis, which focuses on the real-world skill of understanding and explaining difficult Bible passages.

Together with Tihomir (Tihi) Lazić, who recently successfully defended his Doctor of Philosophy thesis at the University of Oxford, and who has been teaching a newly-developed postgraduate module on the theology of church (ecclesiology) which overlaps with his doctoral research, Tom represents what Dr Bjørn Ottesen, Head of DTS, describes as “a younger generation of theologians” at Newbold. “On top of his theological training, Tom brings to the College experience in administration and the use of information technology in educational and ministerial settings. With his varied background and talents, Tom will be a valuable member of the Newbold community for the years to come,” said Bjørn.

Dr Päivikki Kuoppakangas also joined the College’s teaching staff just prior to the start of the academic year, when she took on the position of Interim Head of the School of Business in early September. Having spent seven years as a lecturer, researcher and administrator at the University of Turku, in Finland, and with two decades’ experience in people and project management, Päivikki is well placed to lead the School into a new era.

Her key strategy is to demonstrate consistently that the School of Business is relevant by implementing a five-year plan that will see the expansion of programme offerings, an increased focus on international recruitment, the implementation of market research, and the establishment of new scholarships.

“I would like to see the School offering a postgraduate qualification in Business some time in the near future, and for us to be able to tailor our programmes to what our future students want and need in today’s changing business environment” said Päivikki. “Our current programme focuses on the importance of international business in a European and British context, and I would like very much to see an increase in our cohort of international students, as well as those from the United Kingdom. At Newbold we strongly believe in making higher education accessible to everyone in the Trans-European Division (TED), and one of the ways that I would like to do that is to establish new scholarships that make it more affordable for students to enrol.”

Bisser Stoykov, a graduate of Newbold’s School of Business and former student member of the Recruitment, Marketing and Sales (RMS) team at Newbold, rejoined the College community over the summer when he took up leadership of the RMS team where he now oversees the College’s student recruitment initiatives.

“I have a unique perspective to bring to student recruitment at Newbold, as I have the ability to look at things both as a (former) student and as a staff member,” he said. “One of the things that had the biggest impact on my Newbold experience as a student was the close sense of community, and the diversity of opportunity that this allows. The Newbold experience provides much more than just a degree or qualification, but the chance for personal and spiritual transformation.“

Bisser plans to focus on establishing and enhancing relationships between Newbold, the College’s students, and its stakeholders across the TED.

“Newbold is the flagship provider of Adventist higher education in the Division. It was established well over 100 years ago to meet the needs of the Church and its members, and it is still here to meet those needs. It is still relevant, and has been since 1901.

“As a member of an Adventist church in the BUC or the TED, this College is yours. It was built for you. It is my Newbold, and it is your Newbold. Take it, use it, and own it. Use your connection with Newbold, whatever it may be, to make a difference,” said Bisser.

Bisser’s team is working closely with the Newbold Student Association (NSA) to enhance the student experience. Robert Keszeg is a second-year Business student and President of the NSA for the 2016-2017 academic year. Himself part of the Newbold community for over four years, as Robert learnt more and more about the College and interacted with the students at church and other events, he became increasingly convinced that Newbold was where he wanted to study, eventually using a degree in Business to enrol in a pre-medicine programme.

“Newbold has already given so much to me, first as a church member and then as a student, and I thought that joining the NSA would be one way to give back. What I really want to do is to enhance student life on campus, and to help students really make the most of their time here,” said Robert.

With the assistance of the NSA officers, Robert plans to achieve this by “bringing back old favourites with a new twist”, and was behind this year’s return to Cornwall, a weekend relationship-building retreat for students at the beginning of the academic year, last held in 2012.

“We are focusing on involving the whole student body in events and encouraging other students to be involved in event organisation, so that the events are more personalised and that, through this involvement, students are encouraged to take more ownership of their experience at Newbold,” said Robert. “Our main goal is to enhance the sense of community and family among our students.”

The NSA plans to offer a range of activities that will encourage students to leave the ‘Newbold bubble’, to interact with the community and other Adventist universities and organisations, and to become more in touch with the local community. Helping the community get to know ‘who’ Newbold students are is a strategy that is supported by the College’s regular Impact Day, and its encouragement of incorporating service to others into students’ everyday lives.

Newbold is the TED’s flagship higher education institution and offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees and programmes, including Theology and Religious Studies, Business Studies, Humanities, Health and Wellness, Leadership, and English for Speakers of Other Languages. The College’s campus is based in Binfield, Berkshire, and its diverse community includes representation from around 50 nationalities.

Kirsty Watkins