BJU held a faculty/staff meeting yesterday, and an attendee emailed us notifying of a few pertinent details.
-BJU will close and demolish two of its residence halls this summer, Siddons (Women’s) and Reveal (Men’s). These residence halls currently house graduate students and assistants, but the school’s steadily dropping enrollment has made these older buildings obsolete. Here’s an image showing a revised campus map:
-A major emphasis of the meeting was the administration’s continued interest in building a presence for the school in China. Recruitment is seen as a major concern for BJU, and the school’s leaders clearly see an opportunity for growth and fundraising in Asia.
Update, 4:00PM 2/21/14: We have received information from another source that conflicts with some of the details we published below. At this time, all we know for sure about GRACE’s meeting with BJU this week is that that two parties met, but no conclusion was reached. Neither Stephen Jones nor Gary Weier were present at this week’s meeting, just as was originally reported. GRACE and BJU plan to continue meeting next week.
-In fact, we were told by the meeting’s attendee that Stephen Jones and Gary Weier departed for China yesterday, despite the fact that GRACE and BJU were scheduled to meet at that time. We also learned that although BJU representatives did travel to Lynchburg, VA yesterday to meet with GRACE leaders, the talks broke down after GRACE learned that no top-ranking BJU official was present.
-SACS was also discussed, although there was little good news in the University’s pursuit of regional accreditation. Our informant said that finances was presented as the main obstacle to BJU’s plans in this area, with a SACS requirement that any applicant show $1 million in savings as the administration’s biggest concern. (Also: check out this image we created in 2013 showing key events in BJU’s history of misinforming the public about SACS.)
In other news, BJU’s student newspaper, The Collegian, published an article today pushing back against critics of the school’s handling of the GRACE investigation. The lengthy article frames the GRACE firing as “an issue of prayer” rather than one to discuss or debate publicly, and describes disagreement with BJU as “bitterness.” You can read that article here.