Wayland embracing growth

January 25, 2012

PLAINVIEW -- With a new men’s dorm under construction and coming off of record enrollment numbers from the fall semester, Wayland Baptist University administrators are embracing growth at the university.

The university system saw a total enrollment of 6,743 students last fall, and of that number, 1,725 were enrolled at the Plainview campus.

While a portion of that local growth can be attributed to the additional students athletes on campus preparing for the start of football in 2012, there is much more to it than that, according to Vice President for Enrollment Management Dr. Claude Lusk.

“This record enrollment can be attributed to the continued growth in the quality and value of what we offer. When you look at the educational opportunities at Wayland, the academic diversity, the international experiences, the mission opportunities and the affordability, it creates a value that is being recognized and growth is a result of that,” Lusk said.

In addition to overall numbers, Wayland has seen strong growth within its virtual campus, which had a fall enrollment of 2,787 students.

In Plainview, the increasing enrollment has led to the need for more housing. In light of that, the university currently is building a new men’s dormitory.

The three-story, 94,000 square-foot structure will house 175 double-occupancy rooms, accommodating 350 male students. It will replace the existing McDonald Hall, which will be razed to make room for the new Flores Bible Building.

A feature of the new dorm will be its environmentally-friendly construction, incorporating within the design more efficient plumbing and lighting. It also will use drought-tolerant landscaping. Lusk said the design has been certified by the U.S. Department of Energy through its Energy Star program. While some of the design elements actually increased the overall cost of the construction project, Lusk said the university decided to move forward with the more environmentally-friendly construction.

In keeping with a heightened level of environmental consciousness, Wayland implemented the first of what will be an annual Creation Cares emphasis in November 2011. The week-long event included presentations by renowned climatologist Dr. Katherine Hayhoe who spoke in chapel about climate change. Dr. Hayhoe is an associate professor and director of the Climate Science Center at Texas Tech University whose work has been used to develop state and federal policies. As a Christian scientist, Dr. Hayhoe tries to dispel misunderstandings that make global warming a controversial topic in both Christian and secular circles.

As part of the overall effort of the university to prepare students for jobs in the future, Wayland has received a $20,000 grant from the Formby Foundation which funded the purchase of two wind turbines, along with data-logging equipment. The university will use the turbines and equipment as teaching focal points for environmental sciences, geology, physics and engineering study, as well as for other math and science applications.

On the sports front, Wayland recently kicked off a fundraising campaign to fund the installation of turf on Wilder Field for the baseball program. The Wayland baseball program has already secured the turf and now must raise approximately $350,000 for installation.

Wayland Director of Corporate Development Mike Melcher is calling on community volunteers to help raise the money. In so doing, two groups of volunteers will compete for vacation packages. One group will include volunteers associated with Wayland, such as faculty, staff or students. The other group will be people from the community who want to help raise funds. The money turned in to the project will be tracked and the person from each group who raises the most money will win either a 4-day, 3-night trip to Disneyland, or a weekend trip to Arlington that includes tickets to a Rangers game and Six Flags. Wayland will also raffle off more Rangers memorabilia at a later date.

Melcher hopes to have the necessary funds raised by July, but said that includes long-term pledges. All gifts will be accepted, including pledges of up to three years. Melcher said those interested in giving $1,000 who can’t afford to give it all at once can pledge $28 a month over a three-year period.

Anyone interested in helping raise funds to compete for the prize packages or in donating to the “Raise the Turf” campaign may contact Melcher at 806-291-3431 or by cell phone at 806-676-2060.