After a year of overcoming challenges and exceeding expectations, Grove City College is looking forward to demonstrating, again, its grit and determination to prepare students for lives of success and service in the common good.
It goes without saying that 2020 was a year like no other, and, along with everything else, the global pandemic upended life and learning at the private Christian liberal arts college. From the evacuation of campus and transition to online instruction in the spring to bringing students back and successfully completing the fall semester on campus, COVID-19 required the College to adapt and innovate to fulfill its commitment to students.
“We faced many significant challenges associated with the virus and we know there are more to come,” College President Paul J. McNulty ’80 said. “Our staff, faculty and administrators responded with extraordinary dedication and skill and our students demonstrated wisdom, understanding a resilience as the College endeavored to maintain a healthy and safe, Christ-centered learning and living environment. We know there are major uncertainties about COVID-19 in 2021, but we are determined to push forward with the best college experience for our students that we can achieve,” McNulty said.
Central to that is conducting classes in-person and on campus for the spring semester. Building on lessons learned in the fall, the College has established robust policies and protocols to keep its 2,300 students safe and healthy and looks forward to keeping the community strong and intact throughout the spring.
In the year ahead, Grove City College is looking forward to a major renovation of Henry Buhl Library. Construction is set to begin in May on the job, which will transform the nearly 70-year-old library into a modern hub for study, research and collaboration. Also ahead, new majors in the liberal arts and STEM disciplines and a comprehensive strategic plan to craft a new vision for the future of the College.
Despite the pandemic challenges, Grove City College accomplished much in 2020, including: the launch of new academic programs and expanded online course options; an increase in financial aid awards; significant and noteworthy scholarship and research in the humanities and sciences; and increasing giving to offset unexpected expenses and fund future projects.
Long known as one of the nation’s nationally ranked undergraduate schools, Grove City College announced plans to launch graduate master’s degree programs in Systems Engineering & Technology Management and Business Analytics – 100 percent online – in fall 2021. Both programs can be completed in as little as a year at tuition rates far less than state and national averages for similar degrees.
The first class of students in the College’s Johnson School of Nursing began their studies in the fall of 2020. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing program is offered in partnership with Butler County Community College. Students study liberal arts and sciences on campus and get their clinical training at BC3, which is one of the region’s premiere training centers for healthcare workers.
Before the pandemic made online education essential, Grove City College in 2019 made a major investment in expanding its online course offerings and making classes available to dual enrolled high schools students, adult learners and students from other colleges and universities. That investment paid off in the past year when it was necessary to switch 800 in-person classes to remote instruction in the spring and helped fuel a spike in online enrollment in the summer and fall.
The College’s alumni and friends stepped up in 2020 to contribute to a record fundraising year, which made it possible to survive a roughly $3 million budget hit caused by the pandemic. Room and board refunds, increased cleaning and dozens of other expenses to maintain health and safety on campus were offset by generous donations, including a $4 million gift from an alumnus and a record-breaking Wolverine Challenge fall fundraiser, allowed the College to weather the story and increase financial aid awards across the board in the fall.
Private support is essential to the College because it doesn’t accept any federal funding, including student loans and grants, and was ineligible for any of the billions in government dollars earmarked for higher education in coronavirus relief legislation.
Research and scholarship by Grove City College faculty garnered widespread attention as well in 2020. The New York Times and leading scientific publications featured Mechanical Engineer Professor Erik Anderson’s work on a blue whale study and Dr. Carl Trueman, professor of Biblical and Religious Studies, saw his book “Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self“ land on a number of best-of lists and be hailed a seminal analysis of western culture.