Bluefield, VA – President Dr. David Olive was joined by Board of Trustees Chairman Mr. Todd Asbury ’93 to make the exciting announcement that the institution will now be known as Bluefield University. The historic news was shared during the President’s Convocation and the ceremonial beginning of the institution’s centennial celebration.
“The discussion to transition to a university name occurred approximately five years ago as we moved into a university academic structure with the addition of graduate programs,” said Olive. “It was revisited during the fall 2020 board meeting. Although there is a change in name, the institution will remain a Christ-centered learning community developing servant leaders to transform the world.”
Chairman Asbury appointed an eight-person brand strategy team which consisted of trustees, a member of the alumni association board of directors, and two staff members. Those individuals were Mr. Todd Asbury ‘93, Mr. Joshua Cline ‘09, Mrs. Julie Johnson ‘88, Rev. Dr. Chris Lawson ‘01, Dr. David Olive, Dr. John Rocovich, Mrs. Sara Rutherford ‘96, and Mr. Lamont Woods ‘92. The team worked in collaboration with two marketing firms to obtain research to guide the board in its decision.
The brand strategy team surveyed two groups with several name options that had been suggested, including keeping college in the name. One group consisted of alumni and donors, and the other group consisted of current students and recent graduates. Both groups selected Bluefield University as their first preference. The Board of Trustees received a report from the brand strategy team at its spring 2021 meeting.
The Board of Trustees met in a special session in June 2021 to approve the new name Bluefield University. It was suggested by Olive that the new name be revealed at President’s Convocation, on August 18, 2021, marking the first day of the fall term and the start of the institution’s 100th year.
“On behalf of the Board of Trustees, we are excited to be a part of this wonderful institution,” said Asbury. “The Board, along with the administration, have made some very important decisions to strategically position the university for the next century. We believe the partnerships forged in the past few years and the important changes underway will offer our students, for many years to come, a pathway to a bright, purposeful, and blessed future.”
President Olive explained that the transition to a university reflects Bluefield’s transformation over the years, as well as its commitment to developing servant leaders.
“With the expansion of master’s degree programs and discussions of future doctoral programs, The Board of Trustees determined this was the right move and the right time to change the name to Bluefield University,” said Olive. “It reflects the future trajectory of the institution as we prepare for the next century of Christian higher education.”
In 2013, Bluefield launched its inaugural master’s degree program, an online master of arts in education (MAEd) curriculum for licensed teachers to improve their practice, achieve career goals, and increase earning power while still working full-time in the classroom. In 2018, a new Master of Arts in Biomedical Sciences (MABS) degree was introduced and offered in partnership with the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) in Blacksburg, VA. Its purpose is to assist students in gaining acceptance into a medical school or other healthcare programs through a nine-month, 35-credit hour, face-to-face delivery program. The program places an emphasis on biomedical coursework, research experience, field study, as well as seminars in professional development.
In March 2020, the Board of Trustees voted to further align the institution with the VCOM family of schools by joining its education consortium and expanding opportunities in the health sciences. In January 2021, the agreement between the two institutions was finalized. Within the partnership, the University will seek to develop new science and health sciences programs that provide pathways to medical school or alternative paths to professions in the healthcare field.
VCOM and Bluefield University are legally held by an educational foundation, the Harvey W. Peters Research Foundation. Bluefield University remains a separate 501(c)(3) entity with assets and liabilities intact and continues its Christ-centered mission and covenant relationship with the Baptist General Association of Virginia (BGAV). The BGAV, alongside local community leaders, founded the institution in 1922 as a college serving students in Appalachia.
Olive also announced the launch of the Go Further Campaign, the centennial campaign for Bluefield University. The comprehensive campaign’s $18 million goal will aid the institution in meeting its strategic plan goals and specific outcomes. This campaign will be the largest in the institution’s history as authorized by the Board of Trustees upon recommendation from the Campaign Cabinet.
The campaign will focus on three areas. First, helping students go further through scholarships, both endowed and annual. Second, to enhance facilities to go further through the completion of the third floor of the Science Center and the visioning for South Campus Development for growing athletic programs. And third, investing in academics to go further in academic program support and faculty enrichment opportunities.
“In the earlier years of my tenure here at Bluefield, I closed many of my messages with an invitation to each and every alumnus/a and friend of this venerable institution to “join us in the journey,” said Olive. “We have come a long way over the past 100 years, and yet we are imagining a future that takes us even further with new degree programs and expanded opportunities.”
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