04/27/04 — Bold move: Mount Olive College’s initiative merits support

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Bold move: Mount Olive College’s initiative merits support

What stands out about the history of Mount Olive College is boldness.

It was a bold idea to begin with, hatched by a few preachers and laymen of the small Original Free Will Baptist denomination, to start a church-sponsored college.

In 1953, when the denomination bought an abandoned schoolhouse in Mount Olive as the home for a college, skeptics might have chuckled. It was a bold idea.

There were more daring moves: The purchase of 110 acres along U.S. 117, the design and building a campus there, the conversion from a two-year to a four-year institution.

Now a bold new initiative is under way — a New Century Campaign to raise $23 million to be spent in various ways to help it fulfill its mission, which is: to provide a liberal arts education in “an environment nurtured by Christian values.”

Of the $23 million, $9.8 million would be used to build three new buildings. The remainder is earmarked like this: $5 million to pay off debt; $4.2 million for annual support — something that helps keep tuition low — and $4 million for an endowment.

The college has received pledges for $19.7 million of the $23 million. This has come from people and institutions who were able to give large amounts. The last $4 million or so will be harder to find.

But Mount Olive is no stranger to challenge, and there have always been people who understood the value of the college. Certainly the New Century Campaign is an effort that deserves the continued support of this community.

Former Gov. Jim Hunt, whose father was a long-time supporter of Mount Olive College, was the speaker at a dinner Wednesday night at which details of the campaign were announced.

Of all the dreams and visions in the history of the school, this campaign is among the greatest, he said. But, he added, if we can see a vision and believe it, we can achieve it.

“With commitment, the boldest dream can come true.

“God wants us to care about our children and to educate them.”
(The president of Mount Olive College is Dr. William Byrd. Lois Britt and E.J. Pope are the co-chairmen of the New Century Campaign.)

Published in Editorials on April 27, 2004 11:32 AM