Rayfield talks about state of Bainbridge State College

Published 4:57 pm Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Dr. Stuart Rayfield, interim president at Bainbridge State College, gave Rotarians an upbeat update on Tuesday about the present status of the College, as well as a peek into its future.

She observed that although the college has had a tumultuous, uncertain time over the past years, she wanted to share some positives that give her hope.

Enrollment is up. There was a 6.3 percent increase in enrollment from Spring 2015 to Spring 2016. Summer of 2016 saw a 13.6 increase over summer of 2015.

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The Move on When Ready program currently makes up 25 percent of the student population, with the Move on When Ready up 72 percent from last fall. And, she jokingly added, it saw a 5,300 percent increase for Summer 16 over last year, adding that was because it didn’t exist in summer 2015.

At any rate, she is happy for the increased enrollment and believes it is an outward sign of the state’s commitment to creating a more educated population in Southwest Georgia.

She also cited that 19 students from Mitchell County who were in the MOWR program, graduated in April from Bainbridge College with an associate degree before receiving their high school diploma.

Rayfield mentioned that Bainbridge State had recently been recognized as one of the most affordable colleges. She reported that the Foundation was doing well, having granted $47,000 in scholarships last year. They are also raising money for the Gap Scholarship program, which awarded $30,000 last year and the amount available for this year is $40,000.

The College is developing new programs of curriculum based on industrial and community needs.

She acknowledged the budget was the weakest part of the college, as they have had to make $1.3 million dollars in cuts; but putting a positive spin on that, Rayfield said the new procedures and policies make them feel good they can work within this budget. “We feel we have turned the corner on the budget,” she explained.

Recruiting and retaining students is a job for all, according to Rayfield, as she asked everyone to help spread the story about the “hidden jewel of Southwest Georgia.”

The core of the goals of the college is to continue doing what they do the same despite budget cuts, concentrating their efforts on the most important degrees given, and encouraging those enrolled in business to stay at Bainbridge State and finish with a four-year degree.

“We won’t be able to maintain all we do forever. We must focus on what is most needed here,” she explained. “We may want to add more four year programs,” and may ask other institutions to come on our campus to teach those courses.

Answering, before the question is asked about possible consolidation with other institutions, Rayfield said it is possible, but she does not believe any decisions have been made. “Regardless of what the future holds, we will set up to provide the best education our students deserve.”

One question from the audience asked about the recent articulation agreement signed with Georgia Southwestern. Rayfield replied there is a potential for both institutions to profit from it on specific degrees. “It gives seamless entry for our students to go into a four-year program there without losing any credit.”

Bainbridge State currently offers a four-year degree in business management, and Rayfield said nursing would be the next program on the list to go to four years.