Future of Johnson: Dr. Gary Weedman delivers President’s Annual Report

KNOXVILLE – Wednesday afternoon, Dr. Gary Weedman presented the President’s Annual Report, including lots of important information on Johnson University’s present and future.

“I’m here mostly to ask questions about this year,” Weedman said, beginning the session.

The 2015 Annual Report was handed out to attendees as Weedman revealed that the enrollment hit 1,376 – one of the highest numbers Johnson University has experienced.

Weedman said, “Florida is not where we want it to be.” However, the Florida campus has experienced an increase in applications. It is Weedman’s hope that with new academic programs beginning there that enrollment will increase.

While Johnson features JUTN, JUFL, and JUOL, they have also created a fourth division: JUEX, which stands for Johnson University ExtendEd.

“ExtendEd sites offer flexible, faith-based programs for individuals seeking meaningful learning opportunities, which prepare them for careers in service to Christ and others,” the Annual Report noted. “Accredited business and ministry programs integrate online and small classroom learning with hands-on experience in churches and other organizations.”

Johnson is currently in or is planning sites in Indianapolis, Knoxville, Louisville, and Phoenix.

Another factor of Johnson that Weedman was happy to share was that it is still listed in Forbes’ “100 Most Financially Fit Colleges.”

Important for Johnson University is the upcoming visit next month for the ten year reaccreditation.

“It’s an extraordinary process to get ready for this review,” Weedman said. Students heard about the reaccreditation previously at the “MUSE” assembly.

One topic that has piqued attention and curiosity from many is the upcoming capital expansion talks.

“We are bursting at the seams,” said Weedman on current facilities in regards to enrollment.

The 2015 Annual Report contained a plethora of information about the present and future of Johnson University.

On the Tennessee campus, Johnson wants to take over the county road – Hodges Ferry Road – that runs through campus between the dorms and the current sports and field area – however, they have run into complications with that. For now, their focus is on what they want to construct on the other side of that road.

Replacing the current sports area, Johnson plans to build a multipurpose field house with a gymnasium, exercise room, weight room, pool, and track.

There will also be changes to the other side of campus.

“We are now 99% sure that Alumni [Memorial] Chapel will come down,” Weedman said. He admitted it was a painful decision, especially given the fact that he was married there.

It is likely that the old gym and pool as well as Bell Hall will also be taken down.

In their place will be a building for the School of Arts and Sciences classes, the media program, and the music program.

Weedman said, “It’s a beautiful design.” It is set to be three stories, and to also house a 350 seat performance hall.

A little further from this area is the grave site of past Johnson presidents. Phillips Eubanks explained there are plans to redo the area in the spring into an “outdoor space/memorial garden.”

The Phillips-Welshimer Gym may also see changes into “a dedicated auditorium with seating for c. 1080,” according to the Annual Report.

For the Florida campus, the Annual Report also stated there are preliminary plans for a cafeteria and additional classrooms.

Weedman also touched on the Chinese program, which boasts 74 graduates and partnerships with 3 Chinese universities. A partnership with a Vietnamese university is also being explored.

An audience member posed a question on the amount of international students currently enrolled, following the previous night’s Parade of Flags. Weedman assured that there were more students than those represented on stage, stating there are currently 27 international undergraduate students.

Another hot topic was the Lily Endowment Grant, previously mentioned in Main Session I.

“In December we were notified that we were awarded a $600,000 Lilly Endowment Grand to create ‘Future of Hope’ Institute for Knoxville High School Leaders,” the Annual Report explained. “This University initiative will provide leadership classes, mentorships, service project funding, and college scholarships to the best and brightest high school student leaders in urban Knoxville and beyond.”

Their goal behind this project is to “encourage young people to explore theological traditions, ask questions about the moral dimensions of contemporary issues, and examine how their faith calls them to lives of service.”

Other topics mentioned briefly included an increased emphasis on marketing, personnel changes, and the enhanced scope of the Urban Alliance initiative.

After accepting any questions from the floor and a quick thank you, the session concluded.


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