Enrollment, financial reports positive for SBU
JEFFERSON CITY – Southwest Baptist University (SBU) President C. Pat Taylor was excited about the 426 graduates May 20 that made up the largest graduating class in school history. And the prospects for their replacements for the 2006-2007 school year are unusually good.
SBU has 400 more applications this year than last year, which means that it is possible that the all-time number of 449 for a freshman class could be topped.
“We have a chance of having a much larger freshman class than we’ve been having,” Taylor said. “We do have an outside chance of having a record. We should have 425-430.”
Taylor came to The Pathway office May 23 to review the 2005-2006 school year, which was noteworthy in terms of financial blessing. Through April, the university had received $5,565,255, which was up 12 percent from the previous year figure of $4,984,140. The university also received $1,320,000 in pledges for its bond issue, which was up from a projected $950,000. Lastly, unrestricted giving is up about $150,000, Taylor said.
“Right now, it looks like we’re going to balance our budget this year,” Taylor said, referring to the fiscal year cutoff date of May 31. “Our donors have been extremely generous this year.”
Continuing in the spirit of raising large amounts of money for construction that has led to 10 building projects worth $64.2 million during Taylor’s time at SBU, trustees have decided to renovate the Jim Mellers Center for an estimated cost of $1,260,700. Taylor said 87 percent of the money has been raised, with a goal to complete the fundraising by Sept. 30. The building, which houses The Courts Redford College of Theology and Ministry, could be completed as soon as April 2007, Taylor said.
SBU students in the recently completed school year continued to live out the school’s mission statement to be “a Christ-centered, caring academic community preparing students to be servant leaders in a global society.” One of the examples of that servant leadership was Sheldon Pace, a guard on the basketball team who helped the school finish sixth in the national NCAA Division II rankings.
“After every game, win or lose, he would hang around and sign autographs for little kids as long as they wanted him to,” Taylor said. “He was extremely patient with the fans.”
A North American Mission Board honor recognizing SBU as first among colleges and universities for the number of student missionaries mobilized in 2005 is an indication that SBU students are obeying Matthew 28:18-20, the president said.
“One of my commitments is that we always have been and we want to always be a Great Commission university,” Taylor said. “I want to challenge every student to do missions for three reasons. One, it’s very educational. Two, we’re witnessing to people, winning people to Christ and helping people, And three, once they do a mission project, they come back with a different attitude toward missions. They become committed to the mission concept. They become better church members, more likely to do short-term mission projects with their churches.
“It’s something that has a lifelong impact. So we try and challenge every student with the opportunity to do a mission trip while they are a student.”
Nursing school enrollment on the Springfield campus is growing, and a new doctorate program in physical therapy, which hoped to attract 25 students, had 32. Taylor expects at least 30 to enroll for the 2006-2007 school year.
Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE) won regionals for the 22nd consecutive year, continuing a tradition of excellence at SBU that Taylor attributes to a very strong College of Business.
“We’ve had consistent leadership,” he said. “David Whitlock is our dean. He does a terrific job.”
Taylor noted that 18 students from a business honor society finished in the top five in various categories of state competition.
Among other honors, two teams of computer science students placed sixth and ninth in the nation, and the forensics team finished third in the nation.
Two members of the faculty, Rodney Reeves, dean and professor of biblical studies at The Courts Redford College of Theology and Ministry, and Tim Wood, assistant professor of history, have written books that are getting some national acclaim, Taylor said, and Josh Compton, assistant professor and chairman of the Department of Communications, won a Phi Kappa Delta national award for Outstanding Forensics Educator.