By Will Jones
Triangle Staf Writer
Few students I know like to consider “long-term plans” about much of anything. We spend four years in college, living from one grubby fistful of stale Cheez-its to the next. The daily experience of college is all consuming. So, when I hear faculty and staff discuss “Vision 20/20,” I ponder instead hot ramen and pretty women. “I’m only going to be at college for four years anyways,” I reason smugly to myself. “Why should I care about what buildings this college is going to have after I’m gone?” Here is our president, Dr. Stephen Livesay, explaining why we all should care about Vision 20/20.
When Vision 20/20 is finally complete in about eight more years, how will Bryan have changed?
“Vision 20/20 is first and foremost fluid. It’s a guide to future growth, not an end in itself. But if you aim at nothing, you’re probably going to hit it. We have to have benchmarks because we need them, but we always want to consider what this school needs. I do not want to have certain, concrete goals that we fight for at the cost of the spiritual life here. Brick and mortar is only a means to an end, not the goal itself.
What are ways that Vision 20/20 has contributed to the spiritual and intellectual life here?
Vision 20/20 has never been about buildings and enrollment. From the very beginning, we wanted to give students preparation to live missionally, so everyone can become someone who is a part of God’s kingdom work. Our Education Department given the opportunity to train, through the Georgia Department of Education, Georgia teachers about broader issue of human trafficking. I’m excited about our Center for Undergraduate Research that Dr. Musumeci and Dr. Eisenback have pioneered, giving our students a chance to present their own work for consideration. Our career center is growing; almost on a weekly basis, Marica and Bob are bringing in professionals to workshop and network with our students. We haven’t always had that. We have worldview teams ministering to schools and churches across the country, and many students are going overseas on cross-cultural internships. These things are all a vital part of the 20/20 Plan too, and I think they all have had a tremendous impact on many of the students here.
Beyond just new buildings, better facilities, and more students, how do you feel that this plan will contribute to the atmosphere of this school?
Our most basic purpose is as a school of higher education. But I don’t want us to be just another school of higher education. There are too many of those already. All of our focus is to enable our students to be a part of God’s kingdom work. We aren’t perfect, and we realize that not all students will choose to make this commitment. But we want every one to have every opportunity to be prepared in their mind and their hearts to serve Christ, no matter where they go or what job they work. Every new curriculum piece we have has to have that focus. Of course, to facilitate this program, you have to have full-time personnel, and in order to have personnel, you have to have facilities.
Is there one upcoming project that you are particularly excited about? What part of Vision 20/20 has been the most personally satisfying to you?
The in-roads we’ve made through the Bryan Opportunity Program and the Rhea County Scholarship have been tremendous. To see students who normally couldn’t afford a degree come here and go on to graduate schools and successful careers, that’s huge. It brings a lot of attention to Bryan College from the surrounding community, and you get a cycle of successful families.
When the Tennessee Board of Examiners was here looking at our licensure program, we got perfect marks. They told us that as they went into community schools, what most impressed them was that they were very excited to see people actually wanting to work with Bryan College. We are a small school in a small town; we have many things to offer but we don’t have much publicity, and so getting the message out can be hard.