President’s biennial speech highlights accomplishments, challenges – as the college unveils a new brand.
The proclamation in the lobby of a buzzing Launer Auditorium said it all:
“WHEREAS, Columbia College is nationally respected and offers high-quality faculty, a close-knit, student-centered environment and a network of more than 70,000 alumni; and
WHEREAS, Columbia College has evolved to serve more than 30,000 students nationally and across the globe each year
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Robert McDavid, Mayor of the City of Columbia, Missouri do hereby proclaim Thursday, September 15, 2011 as
COLUMBIA COLLEGE DAY.”
Dr. Gerald Brouder, the 16th president of Columbia College now in his 16th year, said it even better in his biennial state of the college address: “I am happy to report that both the current and future state of the college is very bright.”
Brouder delineated that bright present and future to an auditorium packed to its balcony with faculty and staff, students and alumni, trustees, benefactors and such distinguished visitors as Big Lots CEO, Chairman and President Steve Fishman, a 1974 graduate, and Big Lots executives.
Brouder pointed out that the college had made huge strides since his last speech in 2009:
- The college surpassed 30,000 students educated annually at the start of the academic year – a number now up six percent, he noted -- due largely to robust Online and Nationwide Campus growth.
- Despite the protracted economic downturn, the college is doing quite well financially, with absolutely no debt and, in the fiscal year just concluded, assets of approximately $173 million and a budget of $90 million.
- The college’s endowment is approximately $80 million, up from $45 million in 2009 and way up from the $2 million when Brouder assumed the presidency.
- $3.6 million has been raised thus far for a new science building whose groundbreaking is slated for next spring, Brouder said.
- The creation of a Division of Graduate Studies to cement a true graduate culture. The division currently offers four master’s degrees with more in the pipeline.
- The acquisition and renovation of Federal Hall, a classic building in downtown Columbia, to house the ever-growing Online Campus, Nursing program and other college services; the purchase of an expansive new building for the Rolla, Mo., campus; other infrastructure improvements such as the beautification and safety improvements of Rangeline; and continued partnership with the city of Columbia. “‘We are not an island in the community,” Brouder said. “We educate and we serve.”
Brouder noted that the college has had to invest millions in new hardware and software, which is “arduous and expensive … [but] not keeping up is foolhardy.”
He also cautioned the audience that the college must not “fall victim to the seduction of routine” and “not overrun our headlights,” warning of challenges ahead:
- A nationwide decline in the number of high school students, meaning fewer traditional college-age students are coming through the demographic pipeline.
- Increasing competition in online higher education for working-age students–“The purveyors of proprietary education are proliferating rapidly,” he said.
- Potential deep cuts in military spending to offset the federal budget deficit, which could mean less people in uniform and a reduction in military tuition assistance. Educating military service members is a vital facet of the college’s mission; last year, Columbia College was the 12th largest provider of voluntary higher education to the military.
- The introduction of five new sports -- women’s soccer, men’s and women’s golf and men’s and women’s cross-country – stimulated by an NAIA requirement that its member colleges have a minimum of six sports. The college already had five sports.
- The nomination of Columbia College Athletics Director and Men’s Basketball Coach Bob Burchard to the NAIA Hall of Fame. He’s already a member of the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame.
“We will be bound only by the limits of our imagination and the prudence of our judgments,” he said.
The speech concluded with a video showcasing a bold new Columbia College brand: two elegant, intersecting C’s symbolizing inclusiveness and connectivity.
Watch the brand video.
The brand is more than just a logo, it’s a promise to the world. Students and alumni have agreed on two pivotal attributes of Columbia College: that it is real and serious about education.
The morning concluded on Bass Commons with Kim Craig, college Student Government Association president, presiding over the raising of a Columbia College flag bearing the new logo and a cheer of “We are – CC!”