3Qs: Dr. Bettye Coward

By NEMS Daily Journal

Last week, Blue Mountain College celebrated its 138th anniversary by unveiling a new vision of growth for the Baptist-affiliated institution and asking for support from alumni and friends. Dr. Bettye Coward, BMC president since 2001, answered the Daily Journal’s questions.

Q. You’ve said this is not a capital campaign in the traditional sense. How is it different?
A. The philosophy in development at Blue Mountain College is that resources will follow vision. It is our responsibility to give constituents a vision that is clear, significant and meaningful. Blue Mountain College cast a vision based on the critical need to grow enrollment to at least 600 students by 2012. Within that growth, the focus has been on recruiting students who are a good match for the institution and on enhancing and enriching the living and learning environment. The college’s success thus far in achieving its vision has created some unanticipated, exciting new opportunities. Seizing these opportunities will require additional resources.
In a traditional capital campaign, the monetary goal often becomes the focus. We do not want to lose sight of why we are seeking additional resources, which is to serve students in an exemplary manner. We have identified our needs and the resources which will be required to address these needs. We have broadened our definition of resources to include a number of ways supporters can invest in the college. We believe that resources will follow the BMC Vision.

Q. What do you see as Blue Mountain College’s unique role in the wider community and region?
• The College provides a value-added dimension to the educational experience in promoting holistic development (mind, body and spirit).
• Eighty-five percent of current BMC students live within a 100-mile radius of the college. Many will remain in the region to work and to build families and communities. The college is known for its stellar programs in preparation for teaching and ministry, producing educational and spiritual leaders in the region.
• The college is both a provider and user of services in the region. Students purchase goods and services in the area when they are on campus. The college owns and is renovating existing historic buildings in downtown Blue Mountain which will help to revitalize the area. The college is also one of the largest employers in the county.

Q. Change and growth have been evident at BMC in recent years. What are the challenges in managing necessary change while remaining true to the core character and values of the college?
A. Blue Mountain College has experienced a number of significant changes over the past 10 years. With a 138-year history, changes were necessary to maintaining the institution’s relevancy in the 21st century; yet, the mission as a student-centered, Christian institution remains intact. The challenges include but are not limited to the following:
• Bureaucratic structure characteristic of many educational institutions, especially those with a long history, making it difficult to change and/or to change quickly to take advantage of opportunities that a changing external environment can create.
• Keeping higher education affordable for those who can benefit from the institution’s programs and services.
• Finding the institution’s niche in a highly competitive environment when many institutions are trying to be all things to all people.
Mission and core values anchor an institution. However, there are a number of creative ways in which institutions can address current challenges while remaining true to mission.