Q&A with Dean of The College at Mid-America
CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR ELECTION AS THE DEAN OF THE COLLEGE AT MID-AMERICA.
Dr. Thompson: Thank you. I’ve been teaching at Mid-America for almost 20 years, and it’s an honor to serve in this capacity. I’m excited about what the Lord will do through The College at Mid-America in the coming years.
YOU EARNED A DOCTORATE AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY WHICH HAS THE FIRST AND LARGEST IVY LEAGUE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF EDUCATION IN THE UNITED STATES. HOW HAS YOUR TIME AT COLUMBIA PREPARED YOU FOR THE TASK OF DEAN OF THE COLLEGE?
Dr. Thompson: Columbia has a rich environment of research and inquiry which prepares its graduates to lead at the highest level of academic preparation. I want to instill a culture of critical thinking and Christian worldview so our graduates will be able to lead effectively in the profession God has for them.
WHY IS MID-MERICA STARTING A COLLEGE?
Dr. Thompson: From its beginning 45 years ago, Mid-America has offered undergraduate education. In the last 10 years or so, we began to notice that our students were coming to us less prepared to engage in graduate-level education, in part due to trends in higher education and a decreased emphasis on Bible training in churches. To answer this need for better educational experience at the undergraduate level, in 2011, the school expanded its programming to include the Bachelor of Arts in Christian Studies. This program has been very successful, and we are now ready to build upon that success to offer more degrees for students.
WHAT WILL STUDENTS STUDY AT THE COLLEGE?
Dr. Thompson: Each of the four degree programs has a general education and Bible/ theology component, comprising their first two years of study. Students will choose a major and minor course of study which completes the second half of their degree.
WHAT NEW DEGREES WILL BE OFFERED?
Dr. Thompson: In the fall 2017 semester, we will offer the Bachelor of Arts in Christian Studies and the Bachelor of Arts in Biblical Counseling. In the spring 2018 semester, we will begin offering the Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership and the Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. All of these degrees will be offered residentially and online. We have more degrees to be offered in the future.
WHAT WILL THESE FIRST FOUR DEGREES OFFERED BY THE COLLEGE AT MID•MERICA PREPARE GRADUATES TO DO?
Dr. Thompson: We are interested in students being and doing. Historically, the emphasis of higher education has been on character development and instruction in wisdom. Martin Luther warned us when he said, “I greatly fear that schools for higher learning are wide gates to hell if they do not diligently teach the Holy Scripture and impress them on the young folk” Nearly 500 years later, his warning has become a reality. Higher education in America has become predominantly secularized, even within Christian colleges and universities. We want to train our students for vocation, but more importantly as believers in a risen Lord, our goal is for them to take their place as effective Christian leaders in their chosen professions who serve with integrity, intelligence, and compassion.
Students studying Christian Studies are equipped for effective Christian ministry in local churches, missions, or denominational service. Those studying Biblical Counseling are prepared for a variety of counseling possibilities, including counseling in a local church. The Organizational Leadership program equips students to build an understanding of basic management functions, organizational behavior, organizational design and structure, leadership communication skills, policy development, project management, legal issues, and information technology management. Students in the Business Administration program are prepared for a variety of positions in business, government service, and relief and development organizations. They will also be able to work as Administrative Pastors with a solid biblical background and a good basic understanding of business.
ARE SCHOLARSHIPS AVAILABLE?
Dr. Thompson: We have 31 different scholarships available for students, but more importantly we are inaugurating our GO! Program for all undergraduate students. The current cost of tuition at the college is approximately $21,000 annually. Students enrolled in the GO! Program pay only $4,000 per semester in tuition. Donors pay the balance of the cost of their education.
WHAT IS THE GO! PROGRAM?
Dr. Thompson: The GO! Program is the college’s way of connecting the classroom to the community and ultimately the world. Students who enroll in the program spend an average of one hour a week at an approved site, helping those in the Memphis community. Online students participate in their own community at a site approved by the school.
ARE STUDENTS REQUIRED TO ENROLL IN THE GO! PROGRAM?
Dr. Thompson: No, they may choose not to participate, but they will not receive a tuition reduction.
DOES THE COLLEGE AT MID-AMERICA PARTICIPATE IN STUDENT LOAN PROGRAMS?
Dr. Thompson: No, our last desire is to saddle our graduates with debt. Currently, there are 44 million students across the country who participate in student loan programs of which 4.2 million are in default, an increase of almost 17 percent last year. Collectively, they owe $1.3 trillion in debt, and beginning in July, the Department of the Treasury announced that the rate for new student loans will increase by 20 percent. Last year’s graduating class owes an average of $37,000 per student, and their average loan payback amount is $351 per month. We have no wish to follow a failed model. We are a donor-driven, not tuition-driven, institution and have relied upon the generous gifts of alumni and friends for over 45 years to keep our tuition costs low so students can graduate.
CAN STUDENTS DIVIDE THEIR TUITION INTO MONTHLY PAYMENTS?
Dr. Thompson: Yes, we participate in Nelnet, a tuition repayment service which allows students to divide their tuition costs into five equal payments per semester.
DOES THE COLLEGE PROVIDE DORMITORIES FOR STUDENTS?
Dr. Thompson: Yes, we have men’s and women’s dorms as part of The Village at Mid-America. Students can check with our Campus Life office for current rates.
WHAT SHOULD SOMEONE WHO IS INTERESTED IN ENROLLING AT THE COLLEGE AT MID-AMERICA DO?
Dr. Thompson: I would start by contacting our Admissions office either in person or through our website (collegeatmidamerica.com). They are prepared to give potential students all the information needed about our application process into the college.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME. WE’RE EXCITED FOR THE START OF THE COLLEGE AT MID-AMERICA IN THE FALL.
Dr. Thompson: It’s been my pleasure. I’m excited as we begin, and I’m looking forward to seeing new students in the fall.