With all students officially enrolled for fall 2011, the Board evaluated enrollment numbers and announced the school’s second largest freshman class in history. Two hundred twenty-three new students signed up for classes at BC this fall, compared to 161 total new students a year ago. The 223 total new students this fall is just two students shy of the school record set in the fall of 1995 and the highest number of new students to enroll at BC since 2001.
The Board also assessed its financial figures, including an external audit of fiscal year 2010-2011, which acknowledged the first operating surplus at Bluefield College since 2002-2003 and just the third operating surplus in the past 15 years.
Other financial business included the approval of a two percent salary increase for employees, a five percent increase in traditional student tuition, and a three percent increase in inSPIRE degree completion tuition for 2012-2013.
Continuing matters from previous Board meetings, the trustees viewed initial sketches of a proposed townhouse complex for student housing. Last fall, in light of growing on-campus population, the Board created a Residence Hall Task Force to study residential dwelling options. In the spring of 2011, the study group presented the idea of a townhouse complex. This fall, the group presented initial designs of the townhouse project and plans to continue to study the feasibility of the plan with hopes of solidifying a strategy for construction sometime next year.
In other action related to campus growth, the Board approved plans for raising $4 million for phase one of a new Campus and Community Wellness Center (CCWC). The college began initial discussions regarding a similar facility in 2008 with the Town of Bluefield. Since then, the cooperative plan with the Town has dissolved, and the college has been busy redesigning the project. Gifts for the CCWC have already been given, but during its fall session the Board approved formal plans for phase one fundraising to be completed by June 2012.
In other business, the Board renewed one-year terms of service for its officers: chair Julie Johnson, vice chair Dr. David Bailey, and secretary Rev. Jack Marcom. Johnson is the school’s first-ever female chair of the Board. The trustees also approved the presentation of Honorary Doctorate degrees to retired BC professors David Armbrister and Will Gordon. Armbrister, who served on faculty at Bluefield for 32 years, and Gordon, who is the longest tenured BC professor with 40 years of service, will both receive their Honorary Doctorates during the college’s Winter Commencement, December 17.
President David Olive shared an institutional update with trustees during the fall session. Dr. Olive spoke about the accomplishments on campus since the Board last met in April 2011, including quarter-million-dollar renovations to the dining hall, improvements to the Student Activities Center, the transformation of the inSPIRE degree completion program to an entirely online curriculum, the start of Rams football for the first time in 70 years, and the development of an RN-to-BSN program for current and aspiring nurses.
“There is a sense of excitement on this campus that I have not seen before in my four years at Bluefield College,” said Dr. Olive, who was inaugurated as BC’s ninth president in November 2007, “a desire to continue to do more to fulfill the mission of this college.”