Belhaven’s Growth

Mark Hopkins was president of Williams College for 36 years, retiring at about the time Belhaven was founded in the late 1880s.

His influence was made famous in a quote from one of his former students, the 20th President of the United States, James Garfield, who commented on his administration’s education policy saying, “The ideal college is Mark Hopkins on one end of a log and a student on the other.”

Colleges used to be fairly simple organizations, as depicted in black and white movies.  But all that has changed.  The complexity of rapidly shifting curriculum, delivery systems, financial structures, accrediting, and government regulations have taken all the simplicity out of running a campus.

Even when I began in the college presidency 21 years ago, the “moving parts” of a college were much more predictable than they are today.

Along with the changes to the academy, Belhaven College has become an especially complex place as God has allowed us to grow so rapidly in the past years and extend our reach through innovative delivery systems that reach a diverse audience of students.

• We serve 2,951 students on four physical campuses, plus our online campus, ranging in age from 15 to 70s.

• We have four academic schools, supported by 262 full time faculty and staff, plus 317 adjunct faculty.

• We offer 80 different academic degrees or certificates, including 9 master degrees.

• We operate in 412,731 square feet of space, plus athletic facilities, and in those buildings we hold about 2,005 academic courses within a single academic year.

• We have 32 different tuition rates, depending on the level of program, delivery system, and location, and we manage a federal financial aid budget of $28.8 million for our students.

• We provide library facilities that include, along with the hard copy collection, 44,000 electronic volumes for students on each of our campuses, plus we offer graduate level library services for both students and our faculty conducting research.

• We have significant partnerships with a wide variety of international universities, mission agencies, and other service organizations.

• We work with 11 different accrediting agencies to evaluate the college as a whole as well as measure the quality of our individual schools or programs.

Operationally, Belhaven College has become an extremely complex place. But for our students, education is simple—it is the interaction that takes place between the student and the faculty member—one sitting at each end of the log as they discuss the big questions of life.

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