By Nick Hildebrand
Marketing & Communications, Grove City College
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 closing 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 Grove City 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,” President Paul J. McNulty says. “Our staff, faculty and administrators responded with extraordinary dedication and skill and our students demonstrated wisdom, understanding and resilience. 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.”
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 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 will begin a major renovation of Henry Buhl Library. Construction is set to begin in May, which will transform the nearly 70-year-old library into a modern hub for study, research and collaboration. Also ahead are 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; and increasing giving to offset unexpected expenses and fund future projects.
Long known as one of the nation’s top-ranked undergraduate schools, Grove City College announced plans to launch graduate master’s degree programs in systems engineering and technology management, and business analytics – 100% online – in the fall.
The first class of students in the college’s Johnson School of Nursing began studies in the fall. The bachelor of science degree 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.
Grove City College in 2019 made a major investment in expanding its online course offerings and making classes available to high school students, adult learners and students from other colleges and universities. That investment paid off 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 contributed to a record fundraising year, which made it possible to survive a roughly $3 million budget hit caused by the pandemic. Generous support, including a $4 million gift from an alumnus and a record-breaking fall fundraiser, allowed the college to weather the storm and increase financial aid awards.
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.