News Articles


Today’s From the Colleges includes news from:
California Baptist University
Oklahoma Baptist University
University of Mobile
Shorter College
North Greenville University
Baptist College of Florida

$10M gift is largest ever for California Baptist Univ.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — A $10-million gift to house California Baptist University’s Gordon and Jill Bourns College of Engineering has been announced by CBU President Ronald L. Ellis.

It is the largest gift in the history of the 8,500-student university, which was founded in 1950 and is affiliated with the California Southern Baptist Convention.

Ellis, in a CBU news release Jan. 8, said, “It’s not that uncommon today for universities of our size to receive seven-figure gifts. We’ve received several. But to get an eight-figure gift is quite an honor.”

Ellis said the donor wishes to remain anonymous. The gift, which he said has been in the works for more than a year, will help fund construction of a three-story building encompassing 100,000 square feet for the college of engineering. With an estimated total cost in excess of $50 million, the CBU engineering building is projected for completion in the summer of 2018.

“This is going to accelerate the trajectory of the engineering program at CBU,” Ellis said. “It is a tremendous highlight for CBU and we praise God for His providence.”

OBU slates grand opening for nursing building

SHAWNEE, Okla. – The grand opening for Oklahoma Baptist University’s new nursing building, Jane E. and Nick K. Stavros Hall, is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 5.

The 32,000-square-foot new home of OBU’s College of Nursing is designed for state-of-the art nursing education for both undergraduate and graduate-level students.

Stavros Hall includes five classrooms; a 109-seat lecture hall and computer lab; six high-fidelity skills simulation labs; a medium skills lab; a health assessment skills lab; a home health and bathing training room; and 24 beds.

In 2014, Nick Stavros provided the lead gift for construction of the new facility in honor of his late wife Jane, who was the daughter of Victor C. Hurt, legendary OBU athletics director and football, basketball and track coach. The building is named in the Stavros’ honor.

OBU’s nursing program offers a bachelor of science in nursing degree; a BSN completion degree for nurses with an associate degree; an LPN to BSN degree; and a master of science in nursing degree with a focus in either nursing education or global nursing.

In 1952, OBU was approved by the Oklahoma State Board of Nursing for the state’s first baccalaureate nursing program. The inaugural class of 11 students graduated in 1956.

UMobile starts presidential search

MOBILE, Ala. — The University of Mobile has launched its search for the next president of the 1,500-student, Terry Harbin, chair of the presidential search committee, said in a Jan. 14 news release.

“We are seeking a visionary leader, someone who understands the opportunities and challenges before us and, with dependency on the Holy Spirit, is eager to lead the University of Mobile into the future,” Harbin said.

Criteria and information about the position is at jobfitmatters.com/umobile. The university, which is affiliated with the Alabama Baptist Convention, is being assisted by the executive search firm JobfitMatters, a nationally recognized company specializing in higher education and the nonprofit sector. Information about the search also is on the university’s website, umobile.edu/presidential search.

Harbin, market president of BancorpSouth Bank in Mobile, said the presidential search committee conducted extensive interviews and surveys with students, faculty, staff, alumni, community leaders, denominational leaders and trustees to develop a list of key characteristics of the ideal president.

“Those key characteristics include a Christ-centered faith, organizational and business acumen, proven fundraising success, academic and institutional vision, doctrinal affirmations and community-mindedness,” Harbin said.

The university’s third president, Mark Foley, announced last fall that he intends to retire in 2016 after 18 years in the position. Founded in 1961 as Mobile College, the University of Mobile enrolls more than 1,500 students in on-campus and online programs in more than 40 areas of study.

New football coach arrives at Shorter

ROME, Ga. — Shorter University’s football team, for the first time in its 11-year history, will take the field this fall under a new head coach, Aaron Kelton.

Kelton, 47, with 20 years of coaching at every NCAA level, comes to the Shorter Hawks after serving as head coach at Division 3 Williams College in Massachusetts.

Shorter’s director of athletics, Kim Graham, described Kelton in a Jan. 12 news release as “a fantastic person who has head coaching experience and believes in the Shorter mission. His coaching and recruiting experience at NCAA Division 1, 2 and 3 institutions will help him as he leads the team forward.”

Shorter, with 2,000 students, is affiliated with the Georgia Baptist Convention.

Shorter President Don Dowless said Kelton is “a wonderful addition to the Shorter University family. His experience as a head coach and his commitment to Christian higher education are a great combination and meshes well with the university’s mission. He appreciates the uniqueness of our university and is well prepared to lead us into the future.”

“It’s an exciting time for me and my family,” said Kelton, who will become the Gulf South Conference’s first-ever African American head football coach. “I’m humbled by it and very appreciative to Dr. Dowless and Kim Graham for this opportunity.”

Kelton becomes just the second head football coach at Shorter, succeeding Phil Jones, who started the program 11 years ago at the Rome, Ga., campus and retired in early December. Jones established the Hawks as one of the nation’s top NAIA teams and guided the squad into the NCAA Division 2 ranks and a 13-30 record the past four seasons.

“Coach Jones did a great job getting the program started and we’re looking forward to continuing the tradition he established,” Kelton said. The “relationship” foundation — with God and each other – that Jones built the program on will remain the cornerstone of fulfilling Shorter’s mission, Kelton said, noting, “We’ll continue to do God’s work.”

Kelton, born and raised in Boston, attended Springfield (Mass.) College where he earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and lettered all four years for the Pride in football, starting his final two years at quarterback.

After entering coaching on the high school level, Kelton joined the college ranks in 1996 as an assistant at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, then spent four seasons on the staffs at Division 2 Clarion and Concord universities and from 2001-05 served as defensive coordinator at Virginia State, another Division 2 school.

In 2006, Kelton was hired as defensive backs coach at Division 1 Ivy League member Columbia University and in 2008 became the Lions’ defensive coordinator for two seasons before assuming his first head coaching position at Williams College in Williamstown, Mass., in 2010.

Kelton made an immediate statement in his first season with the Ephs, which competes in the New England Small College Athletic Association, leading the team to a perfect 8-0 record and garnering 2010 NESCAC Coach of the Year honors. His overall record at Williams was 23-25.

Kelton also has received four NFL Bill Walsh Fellowships with the coaching staffs of the Indianapolis Colts in 2007, Jacksonville Jaguars in 2008, Arizona Cardinals in 2009 and Miami Dolphins in 2013.

Kelton is currently working toward a master’s degree in integrated studies from Virginia State. He and his wife Charlotte have one daughter, Kelsi.

NGU’s B.S.U.Grass takes bluegrass to 15-plus venues

TIGERVILLE, S.C. — “I had no idea when I came here that I’d be working with bluegrass. I was just trying to think of ways to connect with students,” said Wes Brashier, associate BSU director at North Greenville University in Tigerville, S.C.

Brashier began hosting a jam session for students in his office every week shortly after coming to the Baptist university in the fall of 2013. “I brought my guitar and mandolin,” he recounted, “and we would hang out and play music.”

Seeing students’ interest in the bluegrass genre, Brashier formed a group to reach beyond the university with bluegrass music.

Last semester alone, B.S.U.Grass — the name of the student bluegrass band — performed at more than 15 churches, festivals and other special events, including Pumpkintown’s Pumpkin Festival and Dacusville Farm Days.

B.S.U.Grass lead guitarist Ben Owens told of a man at one of the churches “who came up to me after service and said, ‘We love hearing young people bring life to that style and use it for the greatest purpose we have: to evangelize and minister.’ That’s our main goal.”

The band plays both traditional and contemporary Christian songs in bluegrass fashion, with acoustic strings and soulful vocals that blend in toe-tapping harmony. Crowd favorites include the band’s take on familiar hymns like “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” and “Victory in Jesus.”

“We try to do songs most people know by heart,” said Brashier, who serves as the band’s director and mandolin player. “When people hear [the songs of our faith], they instantly connect with them.”

B.S.U.Grass also makes its music available through recordings. The band recorded its first six-track EP last spring, which included “What a Day That Will Be” and “Carried to the Table.” The group plans to produce its first full-length album during the spring 2016 semester.

B.S.U.Grass donates proceeds from its album sales as well as offerings received at concerts to missions at NGU, which is affiliated with the South Carolina Baptist Convention. For more information about B.S.U.Grass, visit ngu.edu/bsu-bluegrass-band.php.

BCF president delivers degree

GRACEVILLE, Fla. — The day before The Baptist College of Florida’s commencement rehearsal on Dec. 10, graduating senior Andy Davis and his wife Melodee drove six hours to participate in all of the activities at the campus in Graceville.

Driving that far is not unusual for graduating seniors, but while on the way to BCF on Wednesday, Dec. 9, Davis experienced some health issues and was immediately admitted to the Southeast Alabama Medical Center in Dothan, keeping him from fulfilling the dream of walking across the stage and receiving his degree.

Davis had completed all of the requirements for the bachelor of arts degree in music in order to participate in the graduation ceremony with 39 other graduates. Fueling Davis’ anticipation was that his wife Melodee, children’s minister at Avon Park Lakes Baptist Church in Avon Park, Fla., had earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the college, and now they both would be BCF alumni.

As soon as BCF President Thomas A. Kinchen received a report of Davis’ condition and a subsequent report that Davis was stable, plans were put in motion to make sure the couple’s dream was realized. Kinchen said Davis had worked hard and come too far not to receive his diploma. After consulting with the doctor and hospital administration in Dothan, plans were initiated to help Davis complete what he started many years ago. Kinchen — with Davis’ diploma in hand and all of the rights and privileges afforded a college president — traveled to the medical center and conferred Davis’ degree immediately following the graduation ceremony at the BCF campus.

Davis, an insurance company employee, was released from the hospital later in the weekend and spent a week recuperating in the Graceville area before returning home.

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