Columbia College students at the Rolla campus have a new place to call home. The new building will be dedicated on Aug. 23. In September 2011, during the 15th anniversary celebration of the Rolla campus, it was announced that Jim D. Morris, a Springfield, Mo., real estate developer and entrepreneur, had donated $813,000 to the college. It was the second largest gift in the institution’s history from a living donor and the largest gift given to a Columbia College Nationwide Campus.
"We made a perfect match,” said Morris. “I had a property that the college had a need for."
"Mr. Morris' generosity reflects his belief in the power and importance of higher education,” Columbia College President Gerald Brouder said of Morris’s gift. "Columbia College looks forward to fostering even more students at the Rolla campus who will continue to repay that gift through their own accomplishments and give proof to the value of his investment."
Morris' gift means Columbia College-Rolla will have plenty of room for future expansion with opportunities to add new courses and programs. The new building, at 37,000 square feet, will more than quadruple the size of the original campus.
Dr. Gregory J. Stratman, director, Columbia College-Rolla said he believes the expansion will help build enrollments, reputation and affinity in everyone associated with it.
“We have grown our enrollments more than 46 percent in the last five years. In 2007, we were attracting 475 session enrollments, and in 2011 we attracted nearly 700 enrollments per session. With our new facilities and especially the science lab, we hope soon to exceed previous enrollment figures,” said Stratman.
But it’s more than number-crunching and putting students in classrooms. “Our vision has been to establish Columbia College as a premier adult-education venue,” said Stratman. “This new building is, indeed, just that – a facility that students, faculty and staff alike will be proud to call their campus, their school.”
Students, faculty, staff, members of the Columbia College Board of Trustees, and representation from the Rolla Chamber of Commerce are expected to be present for the ribbon-cutting and dedication ceremony which will take place Thursday, Aug. 23 at 10:30 a.m. In addition, an open house will be available from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. to encourage the community to visit and tour the new building.