SBU marks new year with enrollment growth
BOLIVAR—Students began classes at Southwest Baptist University (SBU) on Aug. 20 with a large freshman enrollment that is projected to swell to around 420, coming close to the mark of 459 set last year.
Projected enrollment for this fall for the Bolivar campus is 1,575, up from 1,521 last year. That represents a 3 percent increase.
SBU President C. Pat Taylor announced a record enrollment for one of the university’s graduate programs.
“We are at absolute capacity in our doctoral program in physical therapy,” he said. “We have 40 new doctoral students this fall from an applicant pool of 90, and 18 students are still on the waiting list.”
SBU is also excited about a 25 percent increase in transfer students and an 80 percent freshmen retention rate from last year’s class. That has led to a two percent increase in on-campus housing.
On another positive note, the 22,000-square foot Jim Mellers Center, which houses the Courts Redford College of Theology and Ministry, is now remodeled. The $1.5 million renovation is being funded by private donations.
“We are very pleased with the new Jim Mellers Center,” Taylor said. “The building is beautiful and will better enable us to prepare men and women for service to our Lord. The mission of the Redford College is to teach students the Bible, to teach them our Christian beliefs and Baptist identity, and to equip them for Christian ministry. In this sense, the Jim Mellers Center embodies our identity as a Baptist institution of Christian higher learning.”
It was originally built in 1984 as a conference center. The center now features eight state-of-the-art classrooms with the largest two having Smart Board technology. All of the classrooms are PowerPoint-ready, and the new student lounge has wireless technology. The center also features a preaching room which will give the students more adequate space to practice sermons.
Convocation was Aug. 22 in the Pike Auditorium. Taylor and Provost Gordon Dutile recognized the 2007 Parkway Distinguished Professor, Herb Hamann, and the 2007 Orien B. Hendrex Distinguished Teacher, Mel L. Steele. Faculty and Staff Newcomer of the Year Awards were also presented.
Hamann came to SBU in 1983 and has served the university in various capacities. He joined the faculty in 1999 in the department of physical therapy. In 2002 he completed his doctorate at Creighton University and attained certification as a clinical specialist in sports physical therapy.
Hamann has been a student advisor, class advisor to physical therapy classes, a consultant to the pre-physical therapy club, and a helper to the physical therapy recruiter with prospective and current students. He has served on various departmental, university and Faculty Senate committees and has been on a number of faculty search committees.
Steele became an assistant professor of business administration at SBU in 1990. Since that time he has taught predominantly on the Mountain View campus. In recent years, he has been active in designing and teaching interactive television courses for the university. He is a 1984 SBU graduate and earned a master’s degree in business administration from Louisiana Tech University.
A list of new faculty includes: Andrew Campbell, assistant professor of music; Grant Cochran, instructor of graphic design; Donna Depeé, instructor of education, Mountain View campus; Kendall Honea, associate professor of physical therapy; Mark Kellogg, lecturer of chemistry and physics; Kelly Malone, assistant professor of intercultural studies; John Murphy, assistant professor of biology; Libby Sanders, instructor of education, Mountain View campus, teaching at Salem; Tom Stevens, instructor of business administration; James Truelove, assistant professor of education; Jenell Wagner, instructor of accounting; and Gina Whitehead, instructor of health, physical education and recreation.
Finally, the university averted a potential tragedy Aug. 20 when residents of Meyer Hall noticed in the afternoon that the electricity was out in parts of the building. Resident Director Chris Martin called Allen Copeland, the university electrician, and they both discovered an electrical fire in one of the electrical panels in the utility room. They immediately got a fire extinguisher and extinguished the fire.
No one was injured, and the building sustained no damage apart from the electrical panel. Men were moved to other dorms and places on campus while electricians made repairs.
“I appreciate all involved who acted in an appropriate and responsible manner,” Taylor said.