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Biola works toward better future

Biola is in the process of creating a new master plan for submission to the city of La Mirada, Greg Balsano, president of university services, said at last Wednesday’s press conference led by President Barry Corey and the President’s Administrative Council (PAC).

Plan involves more housing and parking

The plan, which involves buying more apartment buildings, as well as expanding and rebuilding current dorms, will be developed and finalized within the next two years, Balsano said. With the possibility of more housing and an approved parking garage to be finished in time for fall 2011 classes, Biola may be able to request an increase in the city’s current allowance of only 5,000 full-time students on campus. Balsano said Biola would likely request no less than 1,000 students be added to that limit.

Extra buildings may be added to plan

Current projects, such as the Talbot Complex, and future projects such as a science building and an arts building may also be included in the plan. The funding for these projects, coming almost entirely from donations, was also discussed at the press conference. Also, in 2011, a feasibility study will begin, which studies Biola’s donations –– who donates, the placement of donations, and the feasibility of projects based on the amount of those donations.

Meeting with donors will kick off in 2011

“We will be meeting with donors after the first of the year,” said Adam Morris, vice president for Advancement. “We’ll start to gain information from the families to assess where really is the area of interest and that will help guide as as we begin this process of, hopefully, by May of next year, building out a kind of skeleton of what a comprehensive campaign for us would look like.”

Donors are increasingly important to Biola, and Biola has been blessed with generous donors. Morris told a story of a 98-year-old woman who bought a tomato for three dollars, but took it back to the supermarket after realizing how expensive it was because she wanted to preserve her estate for Biola.

Donor base has broadened over time

“Over the years we have just broadened our donor base,” Morris said, calling on listeners to think of the thousands of donor names listed in the library and other buildings. “You’ll find all walks of life... people who are young who could only give ten dollars; you’ll find people have given millions to the university, and part of the joy we have in our office is interacting with these people.”

President's Administrative Council provides strong team

Balsano, Morris and Corey were joined at the press conference by the members of the President’s Administrative Council, including Michael Pierce, vice president of Business and Financial Affairs, Irene Neller, senior director of Integrated Marketing Communications, Greg Vaughan, vice president for enrollment managemen, Chris Grace, vice president for Student Development and University Planning and David Nystrom, provost. Corey said he is glad to have a strong administrative team behind the Talbot project and other projects.

“Having this team now completely frees me to leave more often, to be able to do the fundraising, resource development and ambassadorial work that I feel like is entrusted in the position of the president,” Corey said.

Role of president requires more time off campus

Corey said the president of a university should be meeting donors face-to-face and sould be spending 40 to 50 percent of the time off campus, rather than just sitting at a desk and writing letters. His off-campus work helps build Biola’s reputation among both Christian and secular institutions, he said, pointing to Biola’s recent recognition by U.S. News and World Report as evidence that such recognition is already well on its way. “Education here is really first rate,” Nystrom said. “We have nothing of which to be ashamed.”

Grace reminded attendees that Biola received the highest level of accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges several years ago. WASC can accredit a school up to 10 years, and, after evaluating Biola, gave it that full 10 years. The association will be back in another year for a follow up, Grace said.

In the meantime, Biola is working to encourage cross-cultural encounters and to come up with more ways to help students financially.

Pierce said Biola strives to provide the best quality education at a reasonable –– though not cheap –– cost. Biola has a new affordability task force this year, set up to find ways to minimize student debt, while still maintaining quality of education. Vaughan said Biola has cut budgets, among other things, to gain more money for scholarships.

“We are committed to try and find some solutions, but it is a national problem,” Vaughan said. “Can we eliminate inflation? I don’t know. But can we slow it down? I think we can, and I think we have. We increased our scholarship [pool] by over a million dollars.”

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