08/17/09 — MOC looks forward to solid financial year, development

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MOC looks forward to solid financial year, development

By Catharin Shepard
Published in News on August 17, 2009 1:46 PM

Despite the economic downturn, Mount Olive College is going strong, offering scholarships to students and even moving forward with campus improvement projects.

Much of the private college's funding comes from donations and gifts to the school and the Original Free Will Baptist Convention. In a challenging economy, it might be harder for people to donate to any organization, even their alma mater.

Even so, although stocks fell and the unemployment rate rose over the past year, in the same time period, the college has continued to pursue the goals of its long-range development plan.

Earlier this year, the school completed improvements on the baseball field, and thanks to a generous gift from the late philanthropist Otha Herring, the college will in early August take possession of two brand-new, state-of-the-art dormitories. The dorms will open to students this fall and are on schedule to be completed shortly, and costs for the project proved to be less than anticipated. The dorms have come in under the budget, officials said.

Other projects, funded from various sources -- money from the college, grants from state and federal programs and even donations from professors -- include a new psychology laboratory in the Henderson Building and a new bookstore.

One of the college's satellite campuses is also undergoing development. MOC held an official ribbon cutting and grand opening celebration recently for the new offices and facility in Jacksonville. The college also has satellite campuses in New Bern, Goldsboro, Washington, Wilmington and Research Triangle Park.

MOC Chancellor and former college president Dr. William Byrd attributed the college's success to wise use of resources and a conservative approach to finances.

Monetary gifts to the college are often sporadic in nature, coming from an estate after a person has died, and it takes some time before the money becomes available to put toward any projects, Byrd said.

At least one project design was altered to be more financially viable, school officials said. The new bookstore planned for the college was slightly reworked to reduce construction costs, but will still be built, though there will likely be a delay in the opening date.

Students are also directly benefiting from the college's financial decisions. As in the past, the college is allocating millions in scholarships to students.

So far this year, the school has offered more than $3.8 million in institutional awards to students, with a little more than half dedicated to continuing students and the rest going to incoming students.

"We have already offered quite a few scholarships for the coming year, but we are not sure if they will all be accepted," said Barbara Kornegay, vice president for enrollment.

About $800,000 is dedicated to sports scholarships, she said.

The college offers three types of academic awards a attract a great deal of competition, Ms. Kornegay said. The honors, merit and leaders institutional awards range from $3,000 to $5,000 a year and are available for four years to new freshman who meet the requirements.

"About 160 continuing students are already in these programs. The total cost, if all these awards are accepted, is over $600,000, and we are not finished yet," she said.

Oversight and governance of the college is conducted by a 30-member board of trustees.