Opus changes focus to academics
As of June 18, Opus was moved from Wheaton College Advancement to the Office of Academic Affairs, according to Director of Opus Dr. Chris Armstrong.
According to the Wheaton College website, Opus “exists to help Wheaton College prepare its students for life-long work that honors God and fosters human flourishing.” Armstrong told the Record that Opus helps students make the connection between faith and work.
Armstrong explained that the world and the church sometimes think of vocation as a choice through which “you follow your heart, you find your best fit [and] you enjoy fulfillment.” Armstrong said that historically the Christian understanding of vocation, “has meant quite simply your call by God for others.”
“We should be trying to do all the different kinds of work that we do in ways that fulfill the general calling to live faithfully to God and Christ,” said Armstrong, explaining the theology of vocation that Opus maintains.
Armstrong also talked about how Opus carries out its theological convictions practically. He said that Opus works with faculty and staff to help them understand “how to teach and do scholarship and do mentoring in light of these [theological] understandings.” He told the Record that Opus works more directly with students for campus events, partnering with other departments to help fund internships and provide interns with a reflective curriculum on vocational meaning and purpose.
Because Opus was moved to the Office of Academic Affairs this summer, Armstrong said that Opus now “works directly with teaching and learning under the Provost [Margaret Diddams].”
“We were a sister office with the Center for Vocation and Career (CVC),” said Armstrong about Opus’s prior position in Advancement. He said that the move “doesn’t mean we’re going to stop partnering with the CVC. We love partnering with the CVC.”
In an email to the Record, Armstrong said that the change was made “in recognition that a good two thirds of our activity relates directly to faculty development and curriculum.” He told the Record that the change means that “access and ease of access of working with academic side is increasing.”
Provost Margaret Diddams told the Record in an email that Opus was moved to the Office of Academic Affairs “to better align it [Opus] with its mission which is to facilitate student, faculty and staff theological understanding of God’s call on each of our lives and on our community.”
Sophomore economics major John Jones said that as a result of Opus moving to the Office of Academic Affairs, “Shark Tank isn’t something that will likely be receiving as much funding as it had received in previous years.” According to Opus’s “Making Entrepreneurs” section on the Wheaton College website, Opus is known to support the Wheaton Shark Tank. The website defines Shark Tank as “an annual startup competition where Wheaton students have the chance to develop a concept and a pitch and compete for infusion dollars and training opportunities.”
Jones said that Opus does a “great job of centering things around pursuing Christ in your venture” and that Wheaton Shark Tank taught him a lot about entrepreneurship. When asked if Opus would now start to cut student-related funding to events like Shark Tank, Armstrong said, “that’s not generally true.”
“Every request we get for funding gets mapped against whatever our priorities are in that particular year, and so it may be that you heard about one request or another that we had to turn down,” Armstrong told the Record. Armstrong admitted that Opus cannot fulfill every request for funding but will “increasingly do things that are directly serving students.”
He gave examples of what this service looks like already this year. Most recently, Opus was able to work with Ray Chang, who oversees Discipleship Small Group (DSG) ministries in the Chaplain’s Office.
Opus partnered with the Grand Rapids Acton Institute to provide the funds for approximately 180 DSG leaders to have a retreat at HoneyRock in Wisconsin. Armstrong is especially proud of Opus’s partnership with the CVC in providing internship funding for students. While the CVC operated the administrativeside of the internships, Opus reached out to financial partners in order to make funding possible. Two summers ago, when this partnership began, 24 student interns were funded.
Last summer, Opus helped fund 42 students “to do internships they might not otherwise have been able to do.” Armstrong acknowledgedthat the specific implications of Opus’s repositioning within the college are still in the planning process. However, he said it would bring “more opportunities to work directly in the teaching and learning process, to work in partnership with faculty, in partnership with faculty and development processes.”