Jasmine Brogdon ~ Staff Writer
Around 50 people sat around the round tables located in Drysdale’s West Room. They patiently waited to hear guidelines for Lynchburg College’s prospective future. For a few minutes or so, the people stared at the projector that said “Vision 2020.”
Dr. Sally Selden, vice president and dean for academic affairs, impressed upon all attendees that the vision would impact all of the campus programs, despite the numerous doubts that were verbally expressed by the programs that were not explicitly mentioned.
Dr. Kenneth Garren, president of LC, strode to the microphone. He presented the idea that the new president-elect, Donald Trump, may pose a threat to higher education. He declared that Trump is a pragmatist and said what he had to in order to be elected. He suggested that Trump had the air of a man who held uncertainties and, for all his talk, had not made any definite plans.
He voiced that Trump has a drive to be top-dog and now appears to buckle under the responsibility of an entire nation. Garren said Trump is not supportive of the Department of Education. He estimated that Trump will make the college’s plans for recruitment of international students very difficult. Our “vision” must be realized to hold true to our diversity statements.
Senior Dougie Hinds said that, with Trump holding no prior experience with the Department of Education, he is not qualified to speak on their effectiveness.
He stated that, if Trump surrounds himself with many qualified politicians, he may have a chance to improve upon the educational system. He maintained that whether Trump is right in his actions or not, he sounds confident in them.
Selden confidently walked to the microphone and presented the topic of engagement on campus. Firstly, she brought up the topic of technology. Many feel this is against the core mission of the college, being a residential college. She replied that this is a main principle of engagement and that the plan recognizes this.
She mentioned the National Survey of Student Engagement or NSSE, a survey of student beliefs on certain topics. The plan is set to build off of these, improve the weaknesses and build upon the strengths. Recent results show that 97 percent of graduates rated their experiences as good or excellent. Selden hopes that more students become involved in rigorous academic opportunities. She wants this plan to add value to the institution and community, especially where engagement is concerned.
Selden mentioned the book “The World is Flat.” This is important to her and the plan because it outlines how the playing field is being leveled increasingly. She concluded that more diversity could only help the college. She strives to implement a welcoming culture.
The story of a female athlete that gained her bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees at LC was shown to attendees through a video. The girl was initially an exercise physiology major.
After an encounter at an internship in this field, she saw a physical therapist in motion and became fascinated with that area of study. She wanted to go to grad school, but in the subject she enjoyed. The higher level degree she wanted to have in this major did not yet exist, so she became unsure of her path. Then the program was started at LC, and she became one of the first students in it.
Tragedy struck: she was in an accident that resulted in 35 percent to 40 percent of her body being burned. She spent over 20 days in the hospital. She teared up in the clip, and the emotion was visible on her face. She rejoiced that she did not have to experience this alone. Many of her teammates visited her, and she also had support from her coaches. People in the physical therapy program she had known for just around two months came to see her. Garren even called from the cruise ship he was on to personally check on her. This revelation caused her to laugh a bit; it cemented her belief that LC was a family. Selden cited this as an example of where she wants LC to go.
Senior Pashion Banks conveyed her feeling that there is not enough diversity. She recommended that there needs to be more events, specifically tailored to the diverse community. She personally doesn’t feel as engaged as she should be. She spends the majority of her time tending to her schoolwork. This garners most of her attention and prevents her from being involved more.
Steven Bright, vice president for business and finance at LC, walked to the microphone and assured the audience that he may not be as eloquent as Selden, but he will try his best to deliver a sound message.
He spoke on facilities and infrastructure. He expressed that it was very important to quantify the school’s needs and space. He stated that this is a very difficult climate to recruit in; the outward appearance of the buildings is depressing the process. The school has not been reinvesting in the facilities as they should have been. He said that the residential buildings are falling apart, especially McFrack.
LC is losing the competitive edge in their infrastructure with other colleges that are making improvements. He proclaimed that the Wakefield locker rooms smell horrible. It had been said in an earlier meeting that students don’t care about the state of their rooms. Students at that meeting shouted that, yes, they do.
Different student classification groups need different things regarding a room. If this mix isn’t correct, it hurts attractiveness.
Sophomore Mallory Henderson voiced that of course she cares about the state of residential halls, especially her room and the bathrooms. She cares because this is where she resides every day.
She vehemently stated that she wants it to be clean and well taken care of. Health reasons are a major reason for this. She declared that LC does compete with other colleges, in regards to attractiveness. She announced that the college is very pretty, especially the newer buildings like Drysdale and Schewel. She stated that the attractiveness of infrastructure connects to recruitment because it draws people’s attention.
“If the infrastructure does not look nice or clean, people may become less interested in coming here,” she alleged that LC has no worries.
Dr. Mike Bonnette, senior vice president in the office of advancement, took the spotlight next. He did a spiel on stewardship, a culture of philanthropy. This is not just giving back to LC; it is also taking care of it.
Engagement is also a part of stewardship. We must identify those that may give, inform them of how to do it, cultivate their giving natures, make sure they are confident in it and then we steward them. This is known as the engagement cycle. This is applied to both young and old alumni, but in slightly different ways.
Vision 2020 is a plan with many parts, but they are underway. Vision 2020 plans to propel LC into the future.
“A great college is always in the process of becoming,” stated Dr. M. Carey Brewer ’49.