Published October 30, 2014
CLEVELAND — “We’re at capacity,” Truett-McConnell College President Emir Caner told trustee members during the biannual board meeting Oct. 17.
“What we’ve found over the past 12 months is, if you go to Miller Hall on any morning, you’ll see students sitting on the floors in between classes,” Caner said. “We desperately need classroom space.”
Caner shared how TMC’s growing pains have been felt across campus. “We don’t have faculty offices available – we moved our entire advancement team across the street – and class space is at a premium. Our gymnasium is used for six sports, chapel, intramurals, team workouts, and a community wellness center. Right now, every conference room is used for graduate classes; when the program grows next year, what are we going to do?” he asked. “This is where we find ourselves, but it’s a great place to be.”
While several campus facilities were upgraded in 2010 – Miller Hall, the TMC dining hall and the addition of the new dorm – the campus has outgrown its renovations. “This brings us to ask ourselves, ‘What’s the next step?’” Caner said.
Despite the frustrations of improper room for growth, Caner’s vision for TMC is steady. “Our job is to help students recognize and fulfill their call,” he said while referencing a student’s call first to salvation and then to ministry or profession. “And the rest of the time they are here is spent to equip them for that calling,” he added.
Tom Hennigan, TMC’s associate professor of Biology, echoed Caner’s words as he shared his passion to not only teach biology but train tomorrow’s leaders.
“What an opportunity for me to train tomorrow’s leaders, especially in biology,” Hennigan said. “We don’t always think about biologists as hard people to reach, but they are.
“I remind my students all the time that biology is a calling and I want to encourage them to stay in the race, stay in the fight, and keep on keeping on,” Hennigan said. “They’re a tough group of people but they need to hear about Jesus too.”
Preparing for the call
Josh Foster, a senior Christian Studies major and captain of the TMC golf team, shared with trustees the impact of TMC on his life. “This is a humbling experience,” he said. “I never thought at 22 years old I would stand before a board of trustees at a college and share what God has done in my life.”
Foster read Romans 10:13 and echoed its call to share the Good News with the world.
“When I die, I want people to say that I represented Jesus Christ well. When I get to heaven and meet my Lord and Savior, I don’t want Him to ask me why I didn’t share [Him] with others.”
Foster explained how he was called into ministry at 16 years old and while he didn’t fully understand God’s plan for him at the time, he came to Truett-McConnell knowing God would use TMC to engrain the truth of God’s word into his heart. “There are men here who stand on the truth of God’s Word and its people like me, the students, which benefit from it,” he said.
At the conclusion of the board meeting, trustee members recommended that TMC’s administration begin the fact-finding process for the building of new academic space.
Bob Jolly, trustee chairman and pastor of First Baptist Church in Cumming, stated, “It is inspiring to witness the work of God in the lives of college students at Truett McConnell College. Dr. Caner’s vision is clear.
“As a pastor I am thankful for this vision. As a father whose daughter is a graduate of TMC and now serving with the North American Mission Board, I see how well she was equipped to serve God in our denomination.”
Frank Cox, trustee member and senior pastor of North Metro Baptist Church in Lawrenceville, said, “There’s something about TMC. It’s the bright star in Christian education and we are the ones who can make a difference. I don’t want to be a trustee who looks back and has to say that we were at the crossroads and we didn’t have enough faith to follow through.”
Thomas Hammond agreed with Cox and added, “We believe in what we are doing here and we know Georgia Baptists as well as Southern Baptists need Truett-McConnell.”
Trustee members will be given a more concise picture of how TMC plans to move forward in their next meeting in March of 2015.
Emily Grooms is the director for marketing and communications for Truett-McConnell College.
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