By Joe Earle
Oglethorpe University officials are considering improvements that could include constructing new buildings at the Brookhaven campus, the university’s president said.
“It’s a good time to be here,” Oglethorpe President Lawrence Schall said in a telephone interview after a weekend retreat during which the trustees reviewed a list of proposals for improving the university over the next five to 10 years.
The trustees endorsed a series of possible initiatives that included renovations to Oglethorpe’s student center and renovations and additions to school athletic facilities. School officials also are considering the renovation of an existing academic building or the construction of a new academic building to house science classes, Schall said.
“We’re looking at some building projects, some ambitious projects,” Schall said.
The initiatives also include building up the college’s internship program, encouraging students to spend time abroad and becoming a center for the arts, Schall said.
“With Georgia Shakespeare and the [Oglethorpe] art museum, we’ve got a very strong arts program here,” he said. “We’re looking to build programs in the arts.”
No timetable was set for any of the initiatives and no dollar figures established for any construction projects, Schall said.
“That’s the work we’ve got ahead of us this year, to put some details on the plan,” he said.
The proposals come about five months after the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools reaffirmed Oglethorpe’s accreditation after a two-year review. Oglethorpe’s accreditation had been questioned because of the school’s finances. In December, SACS reaffirmed Oglethorpe’s accreditation for 10 years.
“We’ve put those deficits behind us,” Schall said. “We’re past all that and revenues are quite healthy now. We’re in terrific shape and certainly glad our accreditors recognized that last year. We’re in a very positive trajectory.”
Schall said he was completing his fifth year as president, so it seemed like an appropriate time for the trustees to look at the direction the university was headed. “The board meets three times a year,” he said. “We decided we’d focus this [meeting] on the future and on some strategic planning.”
In recent years, when other schools have faced financial troubles, Oglethorpe has done well, Schall said. “We’ve had two terrific years,” he said. “Enrollment has grown. We’ve just hired five new faculty this year. We’re in very strong shape.”