Continuing a push to expand Clinton Junior Colleges academic reach, school leaders kicked off the schools annual convocation by highlighting plans to add two four-year degree programs.
Starting next semester, students will be able to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in business and Bachelor of Arts degree in religion.
Its a first for the two-year, historically black, liberal arts college off Crawford Road, and the latest addition Elaine Copeland has championed since becoming president in 2002.
Were making a difference, but we have a long way to go, Copeland said.
Like colleges and universities around the country, Clinton, with an enrollment of about 160 students, has faced hurdles in the recession, including cuts in federal money and a fundraising lull.
But Copeland has maximized resources and continued a slow but steady renewal of the 119-year-old college.
She has overseen renovations to nearly every inch of the campus, including dorm rooms, science labs and classrooms.
Last year, Clinton debuted the Millennium Cafe, an addition to the dining hall where students can choose from an array of food stations.
With support from the U.S. Department of Energy, the school has hired instructors in physics and environmental science and launched a research project seeking ways to clean up water pollution.
When I came, we only had two associate (degree) programs, Copeland said.
Today, Clinton offers programs in liberal arts, business, religion, early childhood and science.
The new four-year programs build on that foundation.
Several former students already have signed up.
Its something this community needed, said Paul Lindsey, a major account coordinator with Comporium who plans to earn a bachelors degree in business at Clinton. Its going to be pretty important for the young people of the community to get that kind of education here locally.
Lindsey has been studying business at Clinton. Hes a fan of the small classes, campus-wide support network and administrations vision.
Seeing the way this institution has grown progressively and aggressively its enough to get you excited, he said.
Copelands long-term plan is to raise enough money to build an academic, athletic and wellness center, which she sees as critical to the schools mission.
She defines the mission like this: To provide access for those who might not have an opportunity to get higher education.
We are all seeking the next level of excellence
At Wednesdays convocation, an annual ceremony to mark the start of a new academic year, students, faculty and the governing board were challenged to fulfill their roles in that effort.
We are all seeking the next level of excellence, Dean Janis Pendleton said.
Guest speaker Ronald Rochon, University of Southern Indiana provost, told the audience of students about fear he felt years before.
He faced an uncertain future on his way to Tuskegee University, where he studied animal science before earning a masters degree in science from the University of Illinois.
I sat in that same exact seat wondering if I could do it, he said.
He encouraged students to support each other, encourage one another and keep each other in check.
Think about what you communicate as you walk across campus, he said. You have a blessed opportunity, a blessed day before you.
Shawn Cetrone 803-329-4072