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The Franklin News-Post
P. O. Box 250
310 Main Street, SW
Rocky Mount, Virginia 24151
Fax: 540-483-8013

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Ferrum College off to great start for next 100 years

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

In celebrating its 100th anniversary, Ferrum College is looking at the next 100 years with a far-reaching fundraising campaign. The Centennial Campaign was announced Monday and the goal is to raise $25 million, half of which has already been raised during the campaign's "quiet phase."

Founded in 1913 by Methodist women to serve isolated mountain students, the college has become a thriving four-year institution and has seen tremendous growth during the last 10 years under the visionary leadership of Dr. Jennifer Braaten.

That growth has seen enrollment jump from 950 to more than 1,500. Four new residence halls have been built, and the new Hank Norton Athletic Center was recently completed. Other improvements include 17 new and renovated classrooms, seven new or renovated laboratories, 28 new or renovated faculty offices and the addition of two restaurants -- Papa John's and Starbucks.

The Virginia Tobacco Indemnification and Community Revitalization Commission and the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation provided funds for a new addition, which includes a 40-seat classroom and three state-of-the-art laboratories.

Scholarships, endowed professorships and more academic opportunities for students are all part of the overall goal of this campaign. An endowed chaplaincy is also included, a testament to the college's relationship with the United Methodist Church.

Ferrum College continues to grow, as does its impact on Franklin County and the region.

A study last year by an economic benefit consultant showed that employment of almost 500 at the college gives the largest boost to the economy, with direct and indirect benefits at more than $23 million a year.

That figure grows to more than $93 million in direct and indirect benefits on the region annually when all facets of the college's economic impact are considered.

Of course, the students themselves have an impact that reaches far beyond economics. They are involved in many community projects, from Stop Hunger Now to fundraisers for many charitable organizations.

A great example of students living up to the college's motto, "Not self, but others," happened last fall when more than 600 of the school's incoming freshmen and about 180 community members packed over 108,000 meals to be sent to feed hungry children in Third World countries. Working with the Rocky Mount Rotary Club, more than $26,500 was raised to pay for the meals.

We all benefit from Ferrum College in one way or another, and we all should be proud of the college, Dr. Braaten, faculty and staff, alumni and students.

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