Brooks to trade dean's position for development work

LUBBOCK – Dr. Kent Brooks, dean of the Lubbock campus of Wayland Baptist University, has announced plans to step down from the position in January and become the Director of Development for the campus.

Brooks first came to the campus in 1985, then took a two-year break and returned in 1988. In those days, the Lubbock campus was located in South Lubbock, off 83rd and Toledo Streets in a building donated by Lubbockite “Dub” Rushing, just south of LakeRidge United Methodist Church.

At that time, the campus was running around 175 in enrollment, one of only a few external campus sites that were operating off the home campus in Plainview. Within a decade, the campus was due for a move.

“We didn’t really have any parking left and had outgrown the building,” Brooks said. “Enrollment was at about 275 then, and it started taking off before we actually moved. We were at about 300 when we left.”

The campus moved to its current location in 1998, just off West Loop 289 and 19th Street in what is now the Wayland Plaza. Lubbock campus occupied just part of the facility, and other businesses began leasing the remaining space from the university. As a company or two left and the enrollment and staff grew, Wayland took over more of the facility for its use.

The momentum picked up quickly after the move, and eight years later, enrollment is just over 700 students at the campus. Primarily, the student body has an average age in the 30s, with working adults finding a home at the campus with evening and weekend classes that make it easier for them to work a degree around their current jobs. In the past few years, more young students have enrolled as well, finding the same ease as they work around daytime jobs.

Now, as his swan song of sorts, Brooks is preparing the campus for another move. The university purchased the former Charter Plains Hospital property on North Quaker and West Loop 289 several months ago and the property is undergoing renovation now with plans to move in early 2007.

The 50,000 square-foot facility will feature 32 classrooms and about 30 offices, a larger bookstore with a snack area, two computer labs, a science lab, a distance learning lab and a multipurpose room. The lot is 19 acres, and the parking lot will be expanded to fit 400 spaces.

Brooks will hand over the gauntlet to a new dean just as the move takes place, a great time of transition for both the campus and the man who has led them for nearly 20 years. But Brooks says the time is right.

“I’ve been dean for nearly 20 years, and I think it’s time for someone else to move in with fresh ideas and approaches,” Brooks said. “I recognize the need, and the administration does as well, to generate more funds for the university, not just for the Lubbock campus but for the entire system.

“I saw an opportunity to really work that area and develop partnerships with a number of organizations, private and otherwise, as well as working with our churches in town. We also have some individuals who have been great benefactors over the years and we hope to expand that circle.”

Dr. Bobby Hall, provost and vice president for academic and graduate services, feels the move is a positive one as well on both sides of the fence.

“For the past two years, Dr. Brooks has expressed an interest in transitioning from his position as dean into the development field. Throughout his highly successful career as dean, he has excelled in the areas of community relations and development while nurturing the Lubbock Campus from humble beginnings to its present state,” Hall said. “He is a man of exceptional faith, compassion and commitment. It would be difficult to truly measure the contributions Dr. Brooks has made over two decades to Wayland, and I have no doubt that he will be just as successful in his new role.”

Brooks said he is confident that the campus will benefit from a concerted fund raising effort in the Lubbock area, a city he’s found to be cooperative each time support has been solicited.

“We have not had a development person on board before now,” he said. “I’ve done a little bit, and we’ve seen some great donations – Betenbough, Covenant, United, Xcel Energy, the Elms Family, Chik-Fil-A, and First Care have all been generous – but we haven’t had anyone full-time to do that. A lot of people want to help us, so we want to bring that to fruition.”

Brooks has been heavily involved in the Lubbock community in his time as dean, and he doesn’t intend to change that. Through the various boards and committees on which he’s served, Brooks says he’s built key relationships and has learned many ways in which Wayland can partner with other city entities for mutual benefits. Now he just hopes to build on those relationships, while trusting God to provide.

“I’m excited about the potential for this position and what God is going to do. I can’t raise a dime myself, but God is able to do this, and we have to trust Him to raise the money,” he said. “I really believe we’re poised for some good things.”

In reflecting over the last 20 years, Brooks said the biggest changes he’s seen in the campus have been in the growth and the challenges of accommodating that growth. In addition, he said maintaining the Christian perspective along with business concerns is also a challenge.

“That’s just part of who we are,” Brooks said. “We hold a spiritual emphasis week twice a year to show the importance to our students of knowing Christ and serving him.”

Over these many years, Brooks said the most rewarding part of the job as dean has been getting to know the students.

“Just seeing students make the sacrifices they make and how this translates into new career opportunities, job promotions and growth and development when they leave has been rewarding,” he said.