Two Baptist colleges – Louisiana College and The Baptist College of Florida (BCF) – have recently announced their intention to change their schools’ names, designating themselves as universities.
The two schools have a long history as Baptist colleges. Louisiana College was founded in 1906; The Baptist College of Florida (BCF) in 1943.
According to collegerank.net, a college must meet certain criteria for five years before becoming eligible to be designated a university. The main criteria have to do with the existence of a graduate degree program as well as the variety of undergraduate degrees.
In recent press releases, each explained why this was the right time to make the change.
“While this process will take quite some time, we are truly excited about unveiling a new name that communicates the breadth and depth of our programming,” said BCF President Thomas A. Kinchen. “We are also glad to state that while the name may change, the heart and mission of the school will remain constant.”
During a meeting on Oct. 26, Kinchen recommended the new name of “Florida Baptist University,” to the school’s board of trustees.
The recommendation comes based upon changes to the institution since it was renamed BCF in 2000, including the establishment of a graduate school and new fields of study, as well as the addition of two new campuses.
The school’s press release said BCF has been eligible for the university designation for several years, but has waited until now to pursue the name change. BCF now waits for action from several accrediting organizations before the name can officially be changed.
Rick Brewer, president of Louisiana College (LC), proposed to the trustees’ executive committee to change the school’s name to Louisiana Christian University. The executive committee presented the proposal to the full board, which fully supported the change.
The name change was announced during this week’s Louisiana Baptist Convention meeting, and the name has been filed and reserved with the Louisiana Secretary of State.
Brewer explained the name better reflects the school’s status as a higher learning institution containing several colleges and graduate programs.
“When I became president in 2015, I told the Board I came to lead a great Christian college to become an even greater Christian university,” Brewer said. “This is in keeping with our mission of being Christ-centered. It’s a logical move. We are not throwing away our past. We are recognizing this school has always been Christian.”
Recent graduate school additions to LC include a proposal for a masters of business administration degree, which will be the school’s fifth graduate program. It currently offers a master of arts in teaching, master of education, master of science in nursing and master of social work as well as dozens of undergraduate degrees.
Steven Horn, executive director of Louisiana Baptists, praised the new name as it allows potential students to realize the true academic offerings of the school.
“To put it another way, LC is a Louisiana school, which is unapologetically Christian, whose expanded academic offerings raise it to a university level,” Horn said.
Cheryl Clark, LC provost and vice president, said the name change is a great next step for the more-than-100-year-old Baptist institution.
“The move to university will increase our prominence and marketability nationally and internationally,” Clark said. “University status is more widely understood by international, graduate and non-traditional students, and will expand our recruitment opportunities.
“Ultimately, we think that university status will strengthen our reputation and open new doors for us to connect more people with our Christian educational mission, our commitment to academic excellence, our dedication to outstanding teaching and student learning, and our focus on preparing students for lives of learning, leading and serving.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Timothy Cockes is a Baptist Press staff writer.)