Members of the Bluefield College Board of Trustees recently gathered for their annual spring meetings, and during the daylong session the trustees approved six new academic programs; endorsed new policies on free speech and campus safety; and elected new members to the Board.
In the wake of the creation of two new master’s degrees in the past year alone, the trustees endorsed six new additional academic programs to begin this fall. Among the new offerings: a bachelor’s degree in cybersecurity. The college introduced its first cybersecurity classes in the fall of 2017 as a concentration under the business administration degree. Shortly thereafter, the Board approved a minor in cybersecurity, paving the way for the major to be approved this spring and offered this fall.
“I am delighted to have the opportunity to teach and mentor our students who have chosen to study this exciting and sought-after field of cybersecurity,” said BC’s Dr. Jeff Teo, professor of cybersecurity who joined the BC faculty last fall to develop the program. “According to CyberSeek, there are about 34,000 cybersecurity job openings in Virginia and more than 300,000 cybersecurity job openings nationally. Students majoring in cybersecurity will be equipped with the knowledge and skill sets to meet the current workforce shortage of cybersecurity professionals.”
Other new academic programs approved by the Board this spring included an associate’s degree in ministerial leadership, two minors in early childhood education and Biblical languages, a certificate program for substance abuse counselors, and an educational leadership track for the Master of Arts in Education.
In the area of Student Development, the Board ratified new policies on free speech and campus safety. Citing a 2015 survey by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education that concluded that “a majority of colleges and universities across the nation continue to infringe upon their students’ free speech,” the Board spoke about the value of a free speech policy for Bluefield College. The policy approved by the trustees affirmed the rights of students to have free expression on campus. It also addressed the importance of “caring for all humanity,” “respecting differences,” and “being educated or becoming aware of societal issues that may affect the lives of students.”
“All students enrolled at Bluefield College have the right to exercise free speech,” said trustee Craig Stout. “At the same time, students should adhere to the core values of this institution and respect the differences in opinions, views and personalities that comprise this institution of higher learning. We must not interrupt, abuse or hinder the process of exercising free expression.”
In response to the increasing number of school shootings in recent years and out of a desire to better protect BC students in the event of an active shooter incident on campus, the Board passed a resolution that will allow its full-time campus safety officers to be armed while on duty once certified as a Special Conservator of the Peace. Under Virginia Code 19-2-13, Special Conservators of the Peace have the same powers and authority, including being armed, within a specific geographic limitation, as any other conservator of the peace or law enforcement officer.
During the spring ’18 session, the Board also approved terms of service for trustees. Jack Reasor of Glen Allen, Virginia, was elected to a new term of service. Reasor, who has served on BC’s Board in years past, is a former Virginia state senator and retired president and chief executive officer of Old Dominion Electric Corporation. Trustee Craig Stout was elected to a second term of service on the Board. Stout, a former associate pastor and youth minister, is a sales associate and civic leader in Princeton, West Virginia. Dr. David Bailey was named a trustee emeritus. He had served on the Board from 2008 to 2016, including a term as vice chair and two terms as chair of the Board. A 1960 Bluefield College alumnus and a member of BC’s Hall of Distinguished Graduates, Dr. Bailey’s service to his alma mater also includes stints as president of the Alumni Association, a member of the Rams Booster Club, and a founding member of the Rams Football Booster Club. A former history professor and church pastor, he is currently the president of David Bailey Associates, a full-service public relations, government affairs, and lobbying firm in Richmond, Virginia.
As part of the spring ’18 trustee gathering, President David Olive offered his bi-annual report to the Board, sharing recent accomplishments for the college since the trustees last gathered on campus in the fall of 2017. Dr. Olive spoke about the creation of new academic programs, including a new Master of Arts in Biomedical Sciences (MABS), offered in partnership with the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine (VCOM) in Blacksburg, Virginia. He also shared the news of recent gifts to the school, including a $651,000 bequest from longtime friend Guy Beatty for scholarships and campus infrastructure; a second significant gift (exact amount to be kept confidential) from Dr. Donald W. Caudill to transform and name the new Caudill School of Business; and a $40,000 grant from the Stelio and Betty Corte Foundation to complete the construction of the school’s clock tower.
The Board also heard from faculty president Rebecca McCoy-Reese and Student Government Association president Dago Acevado. McCoy-Reese shared concerns from her fellow professors and spoke of the accomplishments of her colleagues and the “joy” of teaching at Bluefield College. Acevado shared the news of the creation of a new student organization called Active Minds for Bluefield College, a mental health advocacy organization. He also urged college leaders to increase their efforts to provide additional mental health services to students.
In other business, the Board approved: 1) a partnership with Highlands Fellowship Church to offer off-site training in Christian ministry, 2) a policy on human sexuality that mirrors that of the Baptist General Association of Virginia, “respecting, welcoming and loving all persons in the name of Christ while affirming an orthodox view of marriage,” 3) the granting of an Honorary Doctorate degree to Senator Ben Chafin, a longtime member of the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates and a staunch advocate for economic and social values in southwest Virginia, 4) the promotion of Paula Beasley from assistant librarian to senior assistant librarian, and 5) a one-year sabbatical for Dr. Irene Rieger, associate professor English.