BOLIVAR—The Southwest Baptist University (SBU) trustees Feb. 15 surveyed the progress that has been made on the Mabee Chapel renovation project with an eye toward joyously dedicating it when they meet again on May 9.
SBU President C. Pat Taylor said he was pleased with the many small donors who stepped up to help the university raise the needed $1.5 million for the Mabee effort. There were 614 donors, which is second in number only to the 1,100 that arose in the building of the Jane and Ken Meyer Wellness Center.
“It’s going to become a showpiece for us,” Taylor said. “It’s going to look pretty nice.”
While they await the move back to the renovated Mabee Chapel and Pike Auditorium for their chapel services, students since Jan. 24 have been gathering in the Meyer Wellness Center.
Some short-term hardships like lower enrollment, less Missouri Baptist Convention revenue, increased snow removal and utility costs due to the recent blizzard that dumped 20 inches of snow on Bolivar, and the cumulative effect of five annual pay raises for faculty may wind up costing SBU its string of six successive fiscal years in the black, Taylor said. The anticipated budgetary shortfall will be between $600,000 and $700,000, Trustee Cary Summers of Rogersville said.
“We do have some immediate challenges, but we are financially stable,” Taylor said.
Softening those blows is an increase in gifts from $3.7 million last year to the current $4.8 million, Taylor’s belief that enrollment is about to go back up, and a promising new bottom line on the SBU endowment of $19.6 million.
Fighting for SBU’s fair share of Access Missouri scholarship funds is ongoing in the 2011 Missouri General Assembly, Taylor said, with Gov. Jay Nixon proposing a drastic cut for students of private institutions.
The president was in a reflective mood as he pondered what was accomplished in the decade of the 2000s and even all the way back to 1995, the year before he began his tenure on the Bolivar campus.
He noted that since 1995 the percentage of faculty earning doctorates has risen from 51 to 71. He also celebrated the decade-long increase in the number of SBU students going on short-term mission trips, from 179 in 2000 to 432 in 2010.
Provost Bill Brown gave a report on the fast-approaching Higher Learning Commission (HLC) focus visit Feb. 28 and March 1. Much time has been devoted to preparing the SBU deans, steering committee, Cabinet, and faculty for this moment, Brown said. Two HLC team members and an observer will be coming on campus to complete their lines of questioning in the accreditation process.
There are five new SBU trustees. They are: David Bennett, Joplin; Jerry Dudley, St. Charles; Ronda Miller, Camdenton; Rick Moore, Kansas City; and Ryan Palmer, Springfield.
In other business, trustees voted to:
Award honorary doctorates to a pair of SBU graduates, Gen. Douglas Carver, head chaplain of the United States Army, and Retired Gen. Parker Thompson, chaplain brigadier general.
Approve an emergency succession plan in case of the death of the president.
ALLEN PALMERI / associate editor