Magnolia Bible College to close
News of the 33-year-old institution’s demise has sent waves of sadness throughout its alumni community, said Mark Castleberry, chairman of the board.
“Magnolia Bible College means a great deal to those touched by it,” he said. “However, we have to be realistic in what the future holds. We could not continue.”
Castleberry, also chairman of the board of Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tenn., said FHU and other institutions wanted Magnolia to remain open and worked “tirelessly” to help identify options.
In the end, however, cost-cutting measures and staff layoffs weren’t enough to keep expenses under income. Twenty students were enrolled at the beginning of the current term.
Local church members, including elders at the South Huntington church, whichhelped found the school, are looking to individuals with ties to Magnolia tohelp preserve its legacy.
“We believe this was a great work for the kingdom of Christ,” said JohnGardner, elder at the South Huntington church and Magnolia Bible College’sacting president. “Our alumni have and will continue to prove that thisinstitution served a great purpose for the Lord.”
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools first accredited MagnoliaBible College in 1990 and reaffirmed the accreditation in 2005. Despite itslongstanding financial struggles, Magnolia officials maintain they graduated“highly educated ministers for the churches of Christ.”
Castleberry said most students are making plans to transfer to otherchurch-affiliated colleges or universities to complete their degrees. He saidsome of the 11 adjunct instructors still employed by Magnolia have receivedoffers to join faculties elsewhere.
Freed-Hardeman will permanently oversee transcripts and record requests forMagnolia students, he said.
However, Castleberry denied reports that Freed-Hardeman officials played a part in theclosing of the school, saying the opposite was true.
“It was FHU’s desire for MBC to remain open,” Castleberry said. “No officials from Freed-Hardeman played a role in the closing. They were informed when others were.”
FeedbackI’ve talked with many and I know the heartache that exists over MBC’s closing. Having worked for the school (just like Danny, Howard, and John) I can attest firsthand to the lack of communication and leadership (at the board level) that led to the eventual closing of this great place. As sad as I am, however, I can only see this as a good thing. That poor leadership can no longer hinder this place. So, the question remains, do we continue to complain about what happened and say “Oh, well”…or do WE take the pieces and start over?
God is the God of a new beginning. Let us pray for a new beginning for MBC…whatever that new beginning might be. She may never be a college again; but, her task may not be complete.Jon Mark Smith6th and Adams Church of ChristMcGregor, TX
USASeptember, 11 2009MBC gave me and my family so much. She will be missed. The closing didn’t have to be–shouldn’t have been. And to make matters even more sadder and hard to understand, the weekend before the closing was announced, the staff went on a retreat and were led to believe they would come through…Les Ferguson, Jr.Orange Grove Church of ChristGulfport, MS
USASeptember, 9 2009It was both shocking and sad to hear about the closing of MBC, a college that so many people have worked so tirelessly to keep afloat over the years. The thing that most people never knew about MBC was the quality of their academics. For many years MBC was the only college in the brotherhood to gain dual accreditation with both SACS and AABC, and was the smallest college accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. In an era when the shortage of educated ministers becomes a more pressing reality each year, the loss of MBC will be greatly felt. This should prompt everyone in the brotherhood to redouble their efforts to support our Christian colleges and universities. First Cascade, now MBC: who’s next?Howard CoxRusk Church of ChristAlto, TX
USASeptember, 9 2009It is amazing to those of us who have been in the MBC family since the beginning to accept that everything was done to save the college- especially when we were all caught completely off-guard by the closing.Danny DoddGatewayPensacola, FL
USASeptember, 8 2009Worked “tirelessly” is an interesting statement given that the churches of Mississippi who have for 3 decades funded the school were uninformed of the crisis. Alumni were not informed. The Magnolia Messenger (indirectly associated with MBC) is edited by a board member and there was no appeal there. The students were not informed. The former president landed a job at FHU just before the school closed, but the staff and faculty remained uninformed. How did anyone work “tirelessly” to save MBC? As a 1985 graduate of the college, it is an incredibly sad moment … an unnecessary execution has taken place. The giant conflict of interest of having one person serve as Chairman of the Board of two competing institutions is irresponsible.John DobbsForsythe Avenue Church of ChristMonroe, LA
USASeptember, 8 2009I have long said members of the Church of Christ are the worst enemies Christian Education has. Christians, MUST provide, students, faculty, money. For a school that produces trained men willing to “go into all the world” to fail due to ‘funding woes’ is shame on Christians who knew of the difficulties. Churches of Christ need to wakeup. The world is going to Hell and the church is not doing much to stop it.John JenkinsGreat Smoky Mountains Church of Christ, Pigeon Forge, TNGatlinburg, TN
USASeptember, 8 2009Although I did not attend Magnolia Bible College, I admired the school from a distance. I’m thankful for what MBC has meant, and for what it will continue to mean to the kingdom of our Lord.Frank BellizziSan Jacinto Church of ChristAmarillo, TX
USASeptember, 4 2009