Thursday, May 15, 2008
‘Future bright’ for Rust
By BARRY BURLESON
Each college president likes to call something his “crown jewel,” Dr. David Beckley said.
“Mine is the Hamilton Science Center,” the Rust College president told the Holly Springs Rotary Club last week. “We’re very excited about it.”
The new $4.7 million, 18,000-square-foot building on campus is almost finished. It will be ready for the fall semester and host such courses as physics, chemistry and biology.
“It’s state of the art,” Beckley said, “and we did not have to borrow one dime for the structure. It’s our tradition - do not build on credit.”
A successful capital campaign helped fund the science facility and other campus improvements.
The Hamilton Science Center, which will be dedicated on Founders Day in November, will also house an electronic classroom for video conferencing.
“That will be a marketing system, too, for help in locating industry,” Beckley said. “We can showcase Marshall County.”
Rust had an enrollment of 1,076 students this past school year. Three hundred and fifty are in summer school.
“More of our students are going on to graduate and professional schools,” Beckley said.
“New this fall we will also offer a baccalaureate degree in social work on weekends. We want to make it more convenient for those working in the field to earn a degree in social work.”
Rust’s yearly budget is $16.5 million. For the 40th consecutive year, its books are balanced.
“Our endowment continues to grow,” Beckley said. “Our goal is to move it to $30 million over the next five years.”
Rust is also involved in beautification of the area surrounding the college. Its involvement was key in Holly Springs recently being named a Mississippi Main Street community.
“Our main emphasis is the Memphis Street corridor,” Beckley said. “It’s a major artery in getting people to the square. We want it to be as competitive in appearance as the square.”
Rust has also partnered with the city to improve Martin Street. Eight or nine houses have already been renovated.
“We’re still working with landowners to acquire property that we can’t renovate right now,” Beckley said.
He said the street work is in the city’s hands, and hopefully that part of the project will “get going soon.”
Three major groups will visit Rust for conferences - including 400 young people for a United Methodist Church gathering.
Beckley, with 15 years in the president’s office, said the “future is bright” for the college.
“We have a strong faculty,” he said, “and our financial health is looking good.”
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