FROM THE COLLEGES: CBU Lancers to join WAC, D-I; Brewton-Parker finances affirmed; Louisiana College to offer MSW

by Baptist College & BP Staff, posted Thursday, January 19, 2017 (one year ago)

CBU to move to Western Athletic Conference, NCAA Division I

RIVERSIDE, Calif. -- California Baptist University has accepted an invitation to join the Western Athletic Conference, effective July 1, paving the way for a multi-year transition to NCAA Division I status.

CBU and WAC officials held a joint news conference after the move was approved during the university's regular board of trustees meeting Jan. 13.

"This represents a great step forward for California Baptist University and Lancer Athletics," said Ronald L. Ellis, CBU president. "We are honored to join the Western Athletic Conference and to advance CBU to NCAA Division I, the pinnacle of intercollegiate athletics. I am confident that moving to D-I as a member of the WAC will further elevate CBU's reputation for excellence in athletics as well as academics."

Horace Mitchell, president of California State University in Bakersfield and chairman of the WAC's board of directors, said Ellis made "a compelling case for membership in the WAC" at a meeting with the full WAC board last November in Denver. The previous month, Mitchell visited CBU along with Utah Valley President Matthew Holland, Grand Canyon President Brian Mueller and WAC Commissioner Jeff Hurd.

Mitchell said the WAC representatives were "impressed by the university's academic programs, its commitment to transitioning its athletics program to NCAA Division I and its strong desire to join the WAC."

Hurd said several factors make California Baptist University a good fit for the WAC.

"Commitment to quality academics and athletics programs along with the extraordinary vision provided by President Ellis are at the top of the list," Hurd said. "There is no doubt that CBU will make a smooth transition to Division I and to the WAC."

CBU, which will formally apply for NCAA D-I membership in June 2018, currently is a member of the NCAA Division II Pacific West Conference and will remain eligible for all PacWest championships and NCAA D-II postseason play through the 2017-18 season.

In addition to California State in Bakersfield, Utah Valley and Grand Canyon universities, the eight-member WAC includes New Mexico State, University of Missouri–Kansas City, Seattle University, Chicago State and University of Texas–Rio Grande Valley.

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Brewton-Parker follow-up affirmed by SACS

MOUNT VERNON, Ga. -- Brewton-Parker College President Steve Echols has announced that the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools' Commission on Colleges has accepted a BPC financial follow-up report with no additional monitoring required.

"When the school received the good news of the SACSCOC financial evaluation of BPC in December 2014, a follow-up report to be included in the five-year review was required," Echols said, noting that the report was accepted during the annual SACSCOC meeting in Atlanta in December with no recommendations, notations or future requirements for additional reporting.

"The approval of this report is a strong endorsement of the financial health of the school," Echols said. "In our documentation to SACSCOC, there were many good things we were able to share. Among them were the following:

"1. Three straight years of positive gains on the operational profit and loss statement.

"2. Reduced debt.

"3. Increase in student revenue and decrease in expenses.

"4. Increase in net assets.

"5. BPC awarded a perfect financial composite score of 3.0 (the highest given) by the Department of Education."

Echols said a SACSCOC representative reported scrutinizing the college's financial condition in great detail and being impressed with the progress BPC has made over the past couple of years.

"God's blessing is the answer," Echols said. "He has great things in store for our school."

Also in December 2014, Brewton-Parker College's accreditation was reaffirmed, upon appeal, to SACSCOC. BPC had been on probation largely stemming from financial stability matters and had lost its academic ranking the previous June.

Brewton-Parker College, founded in 1904, is affiliated with the Georgia Baptist Convention.

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LC receives grant to help launch MS in social work

PINEVILLE, La. -- Louisiana College plans to launch a master of science degree in social work in the fall semester thanks in part to two grants totaling more than $600,000 from The Rapides Foundation in Alexandria, La.

"We believe this degree will be unique to Louisiana," LC President Rick Brewer said, "because it will have a health care component." He also noted, "The entire MSW curriculum is built upon a Christian worldview as well."

The Rapides Foundation, through its Healthcare Occupations Program, is partnering with Louisiana College in underwriting a significant portion of the social work master's degree as well as assisting nursing students pursuing a bachelor of science degree.

Joe Rosier, president and CEO of The Rapides Foundation, said, "[W]e hope to expand and provide higher-level training to health care workers to help bridge the gap between the supply and demand necessary to meet the health needs of central Louisiana. In our area we know there is a shortage of behavioral health providers, and the MSW program proposed by Louisiana College is one step in the process to help close that gap."

One key to success for higher education in the future is collaboration, Brewer said. "This produces a synergy that multiplies our efforts exponentially. And with an aging population, quality health care and other needful assistance will remain on the forefront of the challenges facing our country in the years to come."

Sheri Duffy, who chairs Louisiana College's Human Behavior Division, said the need for master-level social workers is great in Louisiana as well as nationally. "Living in a world where there is so much distress, conflict and sickness, there will always be a need for social workers to serve hurting people," she said.

Educating and training MSWs through a "faith-based rigorous program will bring hope and help to many who are in need in a variety of settings including schools, inpatient/outpatient behavioral health facilities, healthcare facilities, and private practice/counseling centers," said Duffy, who also is associate professor of social work at the college.

The MSW will be offered as a traditional two-year program. But for students who have a BSW, the MSW may be completed in one year.

LC officials await and expect approval from its accrediting agency so the MSW can be offered for the fall 2017 semester.

"With The Rapides Foundation's help and our faculty committed to preparing graduates and transforming lives," Brewer said, "Louisiana College is poised to make a significant contribution to our fellow citizens in the communities surrounding our campus and beyond."

Compiled by Baptist Press senior editor Art Toalston with reporting by Mark A. Wyatt of California Baptist University, Mandy Corbin of Brewton-Parker College and Norm Miller of Louisiana College.
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