Members of the Bluefield University Board of Trustees recently gathered for their annual spring meeting. During that meeting, the Board announced the appointment of two new trustees. Julie Hull Johnson of Bluefield, West Virginia was appointed to the board. Johnson currently serves as the senior vice president and trust officer of Summit Trust and Wealth Management Group. She has previously served on the Board of Trustees for Bluefield University and was the first female to ever chair Bluefield University’s Board of Trustees.
Dr. Jerry Turley of Bluefield, Virginia was also named to the Board. In addition to serving as a member of the Board of Trustees, he is also a member of Bluefield University’s Advisory Council. Turley currently serves as the pharmacy manager at Sam’s Club in Bluefield, Virginia.
The Board of Trustees also approved the start of two academic programs. The two approved programs were the Bachelor of Science in Nursing & Master of Arts in Counselor Education. With the board’s approval and after receiving approval from the appropriate accrediting bodies, Bluefield University will begin moving forward to offer these new programs.
As part of the spring ’19 trustee gathering, President David Olive offered his b-annual report to the Board, sharing 2018-2019 accomplishments for the college. He discussed a record-breaking 278 new traditional students who made up the largest incoming class in school history for fall 2018 along with a historic 203 new graduate students. The total headcount for fall 2018 was 1,143 which was another school record. The college now has the most faculty it has ever had with 54 full-time faculty members. A successful symposium on substance abuse was held, the Appalachian Summit Center was launched, a $2.7 million expansion to the Science Center was completed this year, and the Center for the Worship Arts was created. Dr. David Pedde, director of the Center for Worship Arts also spoke at the meeting and said that he wants the new center to foster a worship culture and be a resource for local and regional churches. He added, “We must provide deliberate attention to educating heart and soul.”
The Board also heard from faculty president Martin Offield and Student Government Association President Hannah Ingo. Offield spoke of the accomplishments of his colleagues and the joy of teaching at Bluefield University. Ingo spoke about mental health and thanked the Board of Trustees for increasing their efforts to provide mental health services to students with the announcement that Bluefield University will begin offering live, on-site mental health services this fall from a licensed clinical counselor, available to all traditional undergraduate students (including both commuters and residential students).
Bluefield University’s Board of Trustees also elected and approved the Appalachian Summit Center Board of Directors. Those named to the board were Mike Bandy, accountant & Bluefield University adjunct professor, Bluefield University’s Vice President for Finance, Administration, & Advancement, Ruth Blankenship, Bluefield University’s Dean of Online Programs, Pat Neely, Bluefield University President, Dr. David W. Olive, BU Student Success Coach, Cathy Payne, Appalachian College Association President, Beth Rushing, the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation Director of Partners & Scholarships, Kevin Seddon, Dan Sharp, architect, and the City of Bluefield, West Virginia’s Economic Development Director, Jim Spencer.
The Appalachian Summit Center was designed to build collaborative innovative solutions that bring economic social value to the region. The Appalachian Summit Center will continue to look for ways to boost commercial and community development in southeast Virginia and southern West Virginia.
The board also affirmed a ministerial leadership/church partnership with Seminary of the Open Bible. Seminary of the Open Bible launched as a ministry outgrowth of God’s Miracles Unlimited, a non-denominational church located minutes away from Yale University in Hamden, Connecticut. The ministry has an outreach orientation that values serving people in their community and sharing the gift of transformational life through Christ. The ministry also has a rich history of preparing people for kingdom service yet lacked the ability to give students a recognized credential and access to federal financial aid. Executive Director Laquita Joyner-McGraw enthusiastically embraced Bluefield’s church partnership program as an answer to prayer. Now students that desire to learn practical ministry leadership through the partnership can earn accredited associates or bachelor’s degrees in ministry leadership. The site will begin hosting students in fall 2019.
In addition, the board affirmed the change in status from campus security to armed private security in response to the increasing number of school shootings in recent years and out of a desire to better protect BU students in the event of an active shooter incident on campus.
During their sessions, the board set a new effective day of appointment for all trustees. All new incoming trustee members will begin their terms in the fall and will serve four-year terms. Trustees may serve one consecutive term if they are re-elected. The Board of Trustees also affirmed an extension of trustee terms for board members who began their terms in spring.
In other news, the board affirmed the 2019-20 preliminary budget and approved new student fees. They also approved the updated mission statement and core values for the University and set strategic plan goals for 2019-2024.