Fear not, potential future Augustine College students: The tiny Christian liberal arts college that lists Religious Freedom Ambassador Andrew Bennett as its dean isn't preparing to close its doors after all, according to an administrator for the school.

"[The college] is simply moving from an incorporated to an unincorporated status for administrative reasons," Harold Visser told CBC News on Monday.

"There are new corporation rules coming into effect, and because of our small size, we thought it made sense to continue unincorporated."

Andrew Bennett - Religious Freedom Ambassador

Dr. Andrew Bennett, who was named to the newly created post of ambassador for religious freedom last year, is still listed as dean on the Augustine College website. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)

Nothing else at the college is changing, he stressed.  

"We are looking forward to the start of another academic year in the fall."

Notice of the college's application to the Ministry of Labour to surrender its incorporated charter was published in the Canada Gazette on June 13.

According to its website, Augustine College, which describes itself as "unapologetically Christian," graduates up to 20 students a year, at a cost of $13,500 for the fall and winter programs. The tuition covers both course fees and residency, as well as "community meals" twice a week. Additional food costs are not included.

Bennett has mentor role

Bennett was serving as dean at the college when the federal government appointed him to the newly created post of ambassador for religious freedom in February 2013, and has continued to serve in that role on a voluntary basis.

"He has no administrative responsibilities with the college, and his primary role as dean is as mentor to our students," Visser told CBC News.

In a separate email to CBC News, Bennett confirmed that he has "no formal administrative role" within the college, and pointed out that, even before he took the ambassadorial gig, it was actually the college's president, Dr. John Patrick, who headed up the school.

"I do continue to teach an evening course on church history each year on a contractual basis," he noted.

His name also appears as a guest speaker on the program for the college's annual summer conference, which took place earlier this month.

In April, he delivered the annual Weston Lecture at an Augustine College-hosted event at Saint Paul University in Ottawa.

"Drawing from the richness of the Christian tradition, including the Church Fathers and texts such as Dignitatis Humanae, Dr. Bennett spoke to the imperative of Christians being active in the world so as to make the mystery of the Incarnation ever present," the website notes.


  • This story was updated from an earlier version that said Augustine College's application to surrender its charter suggested it was in the process of shutting down. In fact, the college says it remains open and is choosing to change its status to unincorporated.
    Jul 07, 2014 9:24 PM ET
with files from Chris Hall