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Metzger to reveal phase two of university plan

Biola will release phase two of the University Plan within the next two weeks.

Phase two will include 12 “initiatives,” or principles, that will expand on the foundational goals already listed in phase one, which was released in January and can be found on Biola’s Web site. Phase one says Biola will stay a Christ-centered university known for showing God’s love to the world and respected for its academic quality and sound financial practices. Phase two, which expands on these spiritual and financial goals, will eventually lead to a specific action plan that will be outlined in phase three.

Chris Grace, vice president for student development and university planning, said phase three could take up to 10 years to implement.

Future elements of the plan will likely address financial issues, building possibilities and cross-cultural opportunities. Grace pointed to the developing Center for Christian Thought and Office for Integration of Faith as examples of projects he expects to grow out of the University Plan. The programs are intended to bring top scholars to Biola and encourage diversity.

The developing plan will also attack the challenge of college affordability head-on, Grace said, but the time it will take to fully evolve is unpredictable.

“No one’s solved it, and we don’t expect to solve it next week,” he said.

Biola’s 3.99 percent increase in tuition for the 2010-2011 school year, however, is the lowest increase in at least 25 years.

President Barry Corey told Biola employees Friday that high enrollment numbers for this semester and the 2010-2011 school year have given Biola a budget that allowed the board of trustees to “thaw” the hiring freeze put in place a year ago and to give employees a bonus in January of 2011.

The Talbot building continues to remain a priority, too. Corey said the January board of trustees meeting brought a new sense of urgency to raise the necessary funds for breaking ground.

“It’s going to take a miracle, but God is a God of miracles, and when the funds are raised, I want us to say what a great God we have,” Corey said.

Some students have complained that the University Plan is too vague and that building projects like the Talbot project are taking too long.

“When I see a cogent plan to accomplish these inspirations I will be among the first to rejoice,” one student wrote on the Campus Issues board on BUBBS. “Until then, I am forced to remain incredulous.”

Ken Bascom, senior director of facilities planning, agreed.

“What they’re saying is true of what has been posted to this point,” he said. “That’s what phase one is about — broad generalizations. Progress is continuing and moving very slowly and I wish it would be moving faster.”

Uncharted territory for Biola may lie in cross-cultural experiences for every student, higher academic quality and new building projects, Bascom said. The University Plan will help prioritize and order building projects such as Talbot and the science and arts buildings.

As for students’ complaints about slow progress, Bascom pointed to the advances Biola has seen in the last 10 years as proof that the university is moving forward. Biola has added more square footage in the last 10 years than any other 10-year period in Biola’s history, Bascom said.

In the past decade, Biola has added 358,000 square feet of building space, more than half of what it had before, including the library, the business building, the expansion in the Caf and the new parking structure under the soccer/track field.

“We’re not sitting on our hands,” Bascom said. “We feel like projects like Hope Hall and the business building are a new standard for what’s to come.”

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