SBU plans to build up endowment
BOLIVAR—Adding value to the Southwest Baptist University (SBU) endowment remains the focus of SBU President C. Pat Taylor, who reported Feb. 5 to trustees that it has grown to more than $18.6 million.
SBU has come a long way from having an endowment of less than $1 million in 1984, but it also has a long way to go to get to the $40 million goal that has been tentatively set by the university. The vehicle by which SBU hopes to travel to that objective is a capital campaign that has yet to be named. Taylor spoke about how the university will make progress before the May board meeting.
“We plan to have a series of lunches at the president’s home with the goal of having all faculty and staff members attending,” he said. “During the lunches we will discuss the goals for the campaign.”
In October, the board approved a five-year strategic plan that has seven strategic initiatives. Several of those are already being implemented, including a physical fitness directive that emphasizes the development of personal wellness programs.
Linda Wooderson, dean of the Lewis E. Schollian College of Education and Social Sciences, is chair of a 10-person ad hoc committee on wellness that has been meeting for about five months, with an initial goal of getting people to fill out health assessment forms and start their own workout regimens.
“We also have put in place some fitness programs,” she said. “Every eight weeks we’re looking at starting a different set so we don’t get bored with what is out there. Right now we’re doing individual. After spring break we’ll start off with some team things to do. We’re just trying to create health awareness among our employees.”
Another one of the strategic initiatives touches on enrollment, which Taylor identified as a concern. The final headcount for the spring semester on the Bolivar campus is 1,369, which is down from last year’s number of 1,390. This has created a slight budget shortfall that is being made up in other areas. Taylor’s response as SBU president is to personally “up” the board’s official fall enrollment goal of 450 freshmen to 475.
SBU is working on a plan for enrollment growth that maintains a critical mass of students who are evangelical Christians in order to remain a Christ-centered institution and who have the academic potential for degree completion.
“There’s such a thing as maybe growing too fast, too quick,” Taylor said. “We don’t want to do that, but we want to have appropriate growth.”
Trustees toured the construction site of the Joyce Sells Heritage Center for various artifacts, historical documents, and archives inside the Harriet K. Hutchens Library. Ed Walton, dean of library services, provided details of the $70,000 renovation, which bears the name of the former first lady of SBU who died in 2007. Plans call for the facility to be dedicated in the spring.
Former President and Chancellor Jim Sells, who also died in 2007, will be memorialized by the creation of a new front entrance for the campus in front of the Sells Administrative Center. Trustees approved the move Feb. 5, and Taylor said funds raised from friends of Sells will pay for the project. Construction is scheduled to begin in the summer.
SBU’s investment grade from Standard & Poor’s was upgraded from a BBB- with a negative outlook to a BBB- with a stable outlook. Taylor noted that his goal for the next evaluation was to improve to a BBB.
Two board members, Gary Longenecker of Nixa and Phillip Franz of West Plains, were awarded honorary doctorates, along with Gary Black of Novato, Calif., a 1967 graduate of SBU who spoke at commencement last year.
Three faculty members –Walton, Troy Bethards, assistant professor, economics and finance, and Todd “TJ” John, department chair, athletic training faculty – were awarded tenure.
Sixteen faculty members were promoted. Those were: James Cain, Sarah Russback, and Joseph Wooderson, from instructor to assistant professor; Donald Denton, Dwight Haun, Shelley Kilpatrick, Robert Klostermeyer, Connie Matheny, and Robert Perry, from assistant professor to associate professor; and Michael Arnold, Harold Chambers, Herb Hamann, Steven Lesh, Brett Miller, Melinda Smashey, and Linda Wooderson, from associate professor to professor.