Ongoing projects on the campus of Central Baptist College in Conway were the focus of a presentation by college President Terry Kimbrow to the Conway Noon Rotary Club.
Kimbrow and his wife Patricia have lived in Conway since 1987. He is a 20-year member of the club and was the featured speaker at the group’s weekly meeting, held at noon Thursday at the Conway Country Club.
He became the institution’s ninth president on Dec. 26, 2004. “He had a vision for that school and he is executing it,” Program Chair Shelley Mehl said.
Kimbrow said much has changed since 1993, when he joined the administration of CBC as vice president for institutional advancement.
About 200 students were enrolled in the college then, and the school was struggling to pay bills.
“Banks loved us — we were borrowing to make payroll,” Kimbrow recalled. “Sometimes we didn’t make payroll. We had a string of deficits over a half-million dollars a year for about 10 years, but that has changed.”
Eight hundred and thirty-two students were enrolled in the school last year and enrollment is on the rise.
The school now offers 40 bachelor’s degrees, and boasts a Professional Adult College Education program and online classes for leadership and ministry, as well as associate degrees. The school’s athletics program has never been stronger, Kimbrow said.
Kimbrow commended the college’s Board of Trustees, who decided to take a “bold step,” when they approved in May to make up the $2,500 annual shortfall the state’s Academic Challenge Scholarship does not cover for tuition costs. The total amount of the award for freshmen was trimmed by legislators in March from $4,500 to $2,000. Action taken by board members made enrollment possible for students who otherwise may not have been able to attend the private school, where tuition is $395 per credit hour, or about $135 more per credit hour than at neighboring public universities.
Kimbrow provided an overview of “Vision 2020,” a 10-year facilities master plan developed by local architect and the club’s past president, Rik Sowell.
The plan is comprised of ten construction and renovation projects — including the completed construction of the David T. Watkins Academic building, the construction of a new library, currently underway; and the construction of residence halls — all to be completed by 2021.
The first phase of the plan encompasses three major projects that will take place over five years. The current fundraising goal for those three projects is $12 million, and the commitments are “coming in very well,” Kimbrow said. Conway contributors have so far accounted for $884,533 in donations to the campaign.
The construction of the library, whose anticipated date of completion was Dec. 13, is running ahead of schedule and is now expected to be finished mid-November, Kimbrow said.
Kimbrow presented a property acquisition map, highlighting surrounding homes and lots the school has purchased, and prospective areas surrounding them.
He also reported that the school was recently notified of an equipment grant award totaling over $25,000 by Hewlett-Packard, as well as a $25,000 grant from the Roy and Christine Sturgis Charitable Trust, with other prospective grants on the horizon.
As the school continues to grow and develop, the college’s future, and those of its students, seems bright. “Every day on our campus, I see lives changed,” Kimbrow said in conclusion.
Residence halls at the school will open to new students on Aug. 13 and classes begin the following week. The school’s annual Mustang Classic golf tournament is slated for Sept. 16 at Nutter’s Chapel Golf and Country Club.
University of Central Arkansas President Tom Courtway will address the club on Aug. 22, followed by Ellis Arnold, Hendrix College’s interim president, on Aug. 29.
(Megan is a staff writer and can be reached by phone at 501-505-1277 or by email at email@example.com. Follow us on Twitter @LCDOnline, @meganpreynolds.)