Jacksonville College affirms president, hires new vice president

JACKSONVILLE, Texas—Jacksonville College trustees unanimously reaffirmed the institution’s president and welcomed a new vice president for executive affairs during a Jan. 28 board meeting held on the East Texas campus.

In a motion offered by Vernon Lee of Jacksonville and seconded by Bob Pearle of Fort Worth, the board expressed confidence in Mike Smith’s leadership. Acknowledging limited resources from which to draw financial support, Lee praised the president’s “heart and sacrifice” over his nearly five-year tenure. 

“There’s nobody that wants to get out of debt more than me,” Smith told the board. “Raising money takes time and relationships.” He expressed appreciation for a recent $150,000 grant from Southern Baptists of Texas Convention (SBTC).

Newly elected VP Blanton Feaster previously taught at Dallas Baptist University and for over 20 years served local churches, including those affiliated with the Baptist Missionary Association of Texas and SBTC. He earned degrees from Dallas Baptist University and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

With extensive banking industry experience, he will assist Smith in teaching religion courses, reviewing operations of each department, and addressing financial needs and external affairs.

Smith reported enrollment had increased from 402 in 2010 to 598 in 2016, having the highest spring enrollment ever of 573, including 240 students receiving dual credit for high school and college courses. Online enrollment has grown, attracting 319 students, with a boost from having courses listed through a regional consortium in Texas.

Following the financial report from Randy Gorham, trustees discussed the impact of a decline last year in the school’s $2 million endowment related to what the CPA described as “oil taking a hit” last year. However, performance improved in recent months, he said.

“If the college could ever get to the positon where people gave enough money or had enough revenue where at end of year our net profit is $200,000, we could pay that back,” Gorham said, referring to funds borrowed from the endowment.

Questioning whether the “historic value” of endowment funds had been maintained, trustee James Schoenrock of Euless sought to restrict movement of funds for one year, but the motion died for lack of a second. Instead, trustees directed Smith and executive officers to discuss debt reduction ideas with financial advisors.

In other business, the board authorized check signing privileges by Feaster, supported a “debt free in three [years]” fundraising effort and re-elected officers. 

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