Gift allows Bible College to continue expansion

For 68 years, the college has trained ministers who mostly serve churches in Idaho, Oregon and Washington.

jsowell@idahostatesman.comDecember 16, 2013 

When Boise Bible College finishes an ambitious construction project in the next year or two, the 16-acre campus in Garden City will look far different from when the school moved from downtown Boise in 1974.

Located at 8695 W. Marigold St., about a half-mile west of Memorial Stadium, off Glenwood Street, the nondenominational college has added two two-story dormitories, five lecture halls and a chapel since 2006.

Late last week, the college announced to students and faculty members that a new phase to add another dormitory and a student center, where students can study upstairs or relax on the first floor, will begin construction next spring.

The week before, Boise Bible College received a gift of nearly $2 million that allowed the school to pay off $900,000 in construction debt. The remainder will be used to jump-start the new project, which is expected to cost $2.5 million.

"It's exciting to not have the debt, given the economy," said Terry Stine, who has served as president of the school since 2005. "A lot of people have been very generous."

The school has not publicly identified the donors, other than to say they are a Northwest couple. They've supported the college in the past, but this is the largest gift they have provided.

David Davolt, the college's director of development, said it's likely a building will be named after them in the future and that they will receive public recognition at that time.

"We are very grateful for their gift," Davolt said.

HISTORY AND ENROLLMENT

Boise Bible College began training ministers in 1945 at a campus at 18th and Eastman streets in North Boise. It was originally established as a ministry of the First Church of Christ. It became an independent college when it made its 1974 move and is now supported mostly by independent Christian churches and Churches of Christ.

The college offers bachelor's degrees in arts and sciences, associate science degrees and one-year Bible certificates.

The school is accredited by the Association for Biblical Higher Education, and many students go on to other private or public schools to obtain a master's degree.

"We want our students to be leaders, whether it's in business or the ministry," Stine said.

The school currently has 185 students enrolled, slightly below its target of 225. In the decade before the new construction began, the student population climbed from 120 to 212, Davolt said.

Already, 230 prospective students have applied to enroll next fall. That's nearly double the average number of applicants.

"Boise Bible College is about students who want to make a difference," Davolt said. "We have rigorous courses that stress writing and research."

Some freshman classes have up to 60 students, but most other classes have between 10 and 15 students, Stine said.

About 60 percent of the school's graduates go into the ministry field, either as preachers or in support positions. There is also a large number who go into "helping" professions: counseling, psychology and related fields, Davolt said.

STUDENT LIFE

Junior Nick Mastrude, of Baker City, Ore., enrolled at Boise Bible College after attending weeklong spring camps at the college during his four years of high school.

"I came here because I wanted to be involved in a full-time ministry," said Mastrude, 21.

He spent two years on a college worship team that travels through the West, preaching to prospective students and talking up the college.

The college requires its students to become involved with the local community. This school year, Mastrude has served as a youth minister for the Canyon Springs Christian Church in Middleton. He and a fellow student drive to the church about three times a week.

About half of the college's students live on campus. Unmarried freshman and sophomore students are required to live on campus.

Some students have had to double up in rooms with bunk beds. When the new dormitory is open, it will provide beds for 80 more students. That should allow all students to have their own bedroom, Davolt said.

It costs $17,000 for tuition, room and board, and books per year at Boise Bible College. Boise State University charges Idaho residents $20,346 and students from out of state $33,400. The College of Idaho charges $31,376.

BOUNCING BACK FROM RECESSION

The school struggled like most schools and businesses with the downturn in the economy in 2008. Faculty and staff members agreed to take pay cuts in order to prevent layoffs of instructors or support staff members.

Those salaries were later restored, and some additional staff members have been hired in the past two years. The college currently has about 50 professors and staff members.

Previously, the school gymnasium was used for chapel services. The chapel, which opened in spring 2007 with a capacity of about 350, has a stage that can be used for performances and doubles as a place for student discussions and a quiet study area.

But the chapel receives heavy use and is cramped at times, Davolt said. Tight finances and an underestimation of how many people would attend events there caused it to be undersized.

After the dormitory and student center are built, the college will look to expand the chapel, he said.

"That's our next project," he said, laughing.

John Sowell: 377-6423, Twitter: @IDS_Sowell

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