What does a new academic year mean?

By Dr. David Smith
BPC President

Classes resume this week at Brewton-Parker College. Although the campus is busy through the summer with various youth and children's camps, and BPC leaders have been actively hiring new faculty and staff members and renovating facilities, a small number of students populate the classrooms and residence halls during these warm, muggy weeks of June and July.

The pace quickens noticeably, however, as August arrives. Last week the faculty arrived for a week of orientation and preparation. At the end of the week, new students gathered on campus for an orientation program that, we hope, makes each one of them feel like they comfortably fit into the fabric of the BPC family. Earlier this week, classes convened for a semester of learning, student development and faculty fulfillment. It's just another beginning in a long history of similar ones-or is it?

I believe that the 2003-2004 academic year will be remembered as one of our finest for several reasons. First, this year BPC will celebrate its centennial anniversary. One hundred years ago next April, the Union Baptist Institute first began to offer classroom instruction to students in south Georgia. At that time, our school provided the only education in our region. While many schools offered living and learning accommodations exclusively to boys, the Union Baptist Institute (which is what we were called then) opened its doors to girls as well.

Even though James Crowley knew back in 1904 that, because of his African-American heritage, his children would not be allowed to attend school in this segregated region, he donated five acres of land to help attract the college to Montgomery County which, combined with the land offered by the cities of Ailey and Mount Vernon, was enough to locate the school here.

Today, we begin a second century of service to all the young men and women in our area, regardless of their gender or complexion. This year will be significant because we celebrate an important birthday during the spring semester.

The coming academic year will also bring us our first full year of utilization of our new Student Activities Center. That facility has already been host to many important events for the college, the public schools in our community, and other regional activities.

During this year, we will again host championship athletics there, as well as see continued enjoyment from our institutional family and friends as they become more familiar with it. Student quality of living and faculty/staff benefits from this facility make the Student Activities Center another reason for a great experience here in 2003-2004.

During this year, we will also see further progress in student enrollment. Although we will not know for a few days whether we will have enrollment increases again this year, we are grateful that our student body has increased by 20 percent in the previous two years.

Furthermore, our new students bring continually higher SAT and ACT scores, a greater percentage of them completing their secondary educations in the top half of their high school classes, and a stronger commitment to both higher education and Christian service.

Finally, with new leadership to build upon the strong heritage of their predecessors, our student ministries program and our division of religion will make significant contributions to the enrichment of our Christian mission.

Indeed, this will be an eventful academic year for Brewton-Parker College. Students, I hope that each of you will experience and enjoy it fully. Faculty and staff members, I am confident that you will join me in making this a time of service and commitment.

Community partners, I look forward to sharing with you the many resources of the college as we work together to make our county and region a better place to live and work. At Brewton-Parker College, it is time for classes to resume...