NEW BLUEFIELD COLLEGE TRUSTEE TODD ASBURY.
NEW BC TRUSTEE MARTHA DODD-SLIPPY.
NEW BC TRUSTEE JAN MERIWETHER.
BLUEFIELD COLLEGE CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD DAVID BAILEY (RIGHT) AND BC PRESIDENT DAVID OLIVE (LEFT) RECOGNIZE RETIRING BOARD MEMBER DR. DAVID DOCKERY OF PRINCETON, WEST VIRGINIA, FOR HIS 11 YEARS OF SERVICE AS A TRUSTEE.
In the most significant business of the spring weekend session, the Board approved two new master’s degree programs for the college. Just two short years ago in what was considered the most historic academic achievement at BC since becoming a four-year college in 1975, the Board approved the school’s first-ever master’s degree, an online master’s in education (MAEd).
Realizing the benefits and success of that program as its first students prepare to graduate in a few weeks during Spring Commencement, the Board unanimously endorsed the launch of an online master’s degree in business administration (MBA) and an online master’s in nursing (MSN).
“These are ‘market ready’ master’s degree programs,” said Dr. Thomas Brewster, vice chair of the Board and superintendent of Pulaski County Schools. “Bluefield College is paving the way toward creating a highly qualified workforce for our region to create and fill high paying jobs needed to build a robust economy for the 21st Century.”
The new online MBA, slated to begin its first classes either in the spring of 2016 or the fall of 2016, pending official approval from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), will have concentrations in finance and healthcare management and will enable the college to offer the new required 150 credit hours of course work for students to become certified public accountants in Virginia and West Virginia.
The new online master’s degree in nursing, which comes just five years after the Board approved a bachelor’s degree program in nursing (RN-to-BSN), will begin in January of 2016, pending SACSCOC approval, and will include concentrations in family nurse practitioner and leadership/education. Featuring both traditional and non-traditional delivery methods, the MSN will also focus on preparing students for work in rural health care environments.
In action related to the new master’s programs, the Board authorized the college to offer a new minor in forensic science and three new certificate programs in family nurse practitioner, nursing leadership/education, and entrepreneurship/small business professional.
As part of the two-day spring session, the Board also heard reports from President Olive and faculty president Dr. Tracey Stout. In his remarks, Dr. Olive spoke about new academic programs launched this past fall and the celebration of the second highest enrollment in school history. He also shared details of new programs on the horizon.
“This was one of the better starts to a year in my eight years here,” said Dr. Olive. “This is a wonderful place made up of wonderful people living their passion every single day in serving the students of Bluefield College. We appreciate the ways in which the Board enables us to do that and to fulfill the BC mission.”
Dr. Olive also shared the growing task of making higher education more affordable and accessible to students today. Related to the topic of affordability and as part of their report to the Board on behalf of the Student Government Association, students Gordon Dunford, president of the SGA, and Keion Robinson, vice president of the SGA, shared testimonies about the financial difficulties they’ve encountered to attend BC.
“I come from a family that has sacrificed so much for me to be here,” said Dunford, a junior from Austinville, Virginia, majoring in history and communication. “I am the first person in my family to graduate from high school and the first in my family to attend college. I thank the trustees, too, for their generosity and for the ways in which they help students like me attend Bluefield College.”
The Board agenda also included acknowledgment for three new trustees who were approved for service last fall and were attending their first official meeting this spring; the election of two new trustees to begin terms in the fall of 2015; and recognition for two retiring trustees.
Among the new trustees welcomed this spring: Todd Asbury of Bristol, Virginia, a 1993 BC graduate, president and chief financial officer for New Peoples Bank, and senior pastor for Adoration Church; Martha Dodd-Slippy of Emporia, Virginia, a 2005 BC alumna, real estate broker, and longtime community leader for economic development, workforce investment and tourism; and Jan Merriweather of Lynchburg, a 1997 BC graduate and vice president for institutional advancement at Randolph College.
Appointed by the Board to begin service as trustees this fall were Rev. Rod Hale and Dr. Brenda Long. Rev. Hale, a 1960 BC alumnus from Midlothian, Virginia, is a retired minister who served on the missionary staff for the Virginia Baptist Mission Board (VBMB) for 31 years. Today, he is a part-time field consultant for the VBMB. Dr. Long of Blacksburg, Virginia, is a retired educator whose career has included work as a director of career and technical education for Stafford and Tazewell county public schools, an assistant principal and teacher for Tazewell County Schools, and an extension agent for the Virginia Cooperative Extension Service.
Retiring from the Board and recognized during the spring meetings were Dr. David Dockery and Estelle “Cookie” Johnson. Dr. Dockery served the Board for 11 years, 2004 to 2015, all the time as a member of the Facilities Committee, a group he chaired from 2010 to 2015. He also served two years (2013-2015) as a member of the Student Services Committee. Johnson served the Board for eight years from 2007 to 2015. She was a member of the Finance Committee (2007-2008), the Advancement Committee (2009-2015), and the Enrollment Management Committee (2013-2015).
In other business, the Board approved two faculty promotions and a professor emeritus honor. Dr. Thomas Kinney was promoted from associate professor to full professor of history. Dr. Martin Offield was promoted from associate professor to full professor of biology. And, Dr. Wayne Massey, a professor of English who is retiring at the close of the 2014-2015 academic year after 27 years of service to BC, was honored with the status of professor emeritus.