President celebrates LaGrange College’s vision
LaGRANGE — Since 2012, LaGrange College has admitted its four largest freshman classes, reported President Dan McAlexander during his annual State of the College address last week.
“That is an incredible feat. It’s a team effort by every person on this campus, making sure our prospective students can see exactly the kind of attention and the high quality of instruction and service they will receive here.”
This year’s class includes 330 new families who are finding ways to be connected to LaGrange College, he said.
The college also is welcoming its second largest total enrollment of 1,030, topped only by 2006, the first year of Panther football.
While those numbers are encouraging, he said, there are more important things to be celebrated.
“There is a great deal of excitement about the transformations happening on this campus and in our communities as a result of the remarkable bond we share,” he said.
The successes brought about because of that relationship helped shape a shift in how the college views itself, and a new vision was born: LaGrange College will be distinguished as a college that transforms the lives of its students and its communities.
“We are so blessed that this town has such an extraordinary sense of pride in this institution. And we recognize that our students do best when they have the opportunity to participate in the living and learning laboratory that this community offers.”
LaGrange students have impacted the area through work with groups such as Circles of Troup County, DASH – Dependable Affordable Sustainable Housing – of LaGrange, the Hillside neighborhood, Our Daily Bread soup kitchen, Learn 2 Serve summer camp, Troup County DUI/Drug Court Research and WellStar West Georgia Medical Center.
“The college also is reaching out through programs like the 3D Journeys lecture-and-travel series and the Troup County Racial Reconciliation Initiative,” he said. “We host every meeting, and more than 150 residents have participated so far in this vitally important project.”
Over the last five years, capital improvements totaling more than $35 million have included acquisitions and renovations at Lamar Dodd Art Center, Price Theater, West Side School, Broad Street Apartments – a gift from the Callaway Foundation – Fraternity Court and the new science complex.
“And in just 18 months, from August 2015 until February 2017, the college will have opened 130,000 square feet in new or renovated spaces around campus,” he said.
The college also is working to transform the education community.
“We have been the host for many years now for National History Day,” he said. “We have also begun to partner with the Georgia Humanities Council to train teachers how to help students participate in National History Day. This past year, Georgia has had the largest number of finalists and a national winner, all since we’ve been training teachers.”
LaGrange College is more active than ever with the United Methodist Church, he said.
“We are partners with the West Georgia Conference’s Bridges project, sending students and faculty members to work in the Philippines and El Salvador. We’ve also begun a relationship with the General Board of Global Missions, hosting its first-ever college conference this past spring.”
Transformations expand to the lives of students and, through them, to their communities.
“Andre Carter was a record-breaking football player with a heart for children,” McAlexander said. “Although sports agents showed interest in him, his calling was in education. Today he is a teacher and positive male role model at Whitesville Road Elementary School.”
The institution is becoming distinguished through a greater social media presence, expanded reaches into the Southeast and a marked increase in the quality of students attracted to the college.
“Five years ago, our Presidential Scholarship Weekend averaged about 60 students with only a few deciding to enroll at the college,” he said. “For the last two years, we’ve averaged 150 students who were in the top 10 percent of their classes. This year, 76 of those Presidential Scholarship participants have enrolled at LaGrange College.”
Foundations and organizations also are taking notice with their financial support, expressing confidence in the college and the ways it serves the community.
“So, does all this mean that we transform the lives of our students and our communities?” McAlexander asked. “I think it does. We are on this incredibly exciting journey together, and we want to make sure the car (for the journey) is running smoothly. I think we can say that we may have some challenges yet and may have to go in for maintenance every once in a while, but we are excited to get in a car that we know will get us to where we are going.”