By Josh Presley
Blue Mountain College’s new president, Dr. Barbara McMillin, shared her vision for the school during an introductory press conference Tuesday afternoon.
McMillin, originally from Falkner, has been the Associate Provost and Dean of Instruction at Union University in Jackson, Tenn. for the past 20 years. She will be taking over for current BMC president, Dr. Bettye Rogers Coward, who retires on June 30 after serving 11 years as president.
During the press conference, McMillin said that among the many responsibilities of a college president is “vision-casting” and that she must be well informed and sensitive to the needs and interests of those with whom she is partnered.
“The vision that I would cast for this institution will, I trust, enable students to love God with their minds, and thereby love their neighbors through service to the community and to the church,” she said. “It will allow students to think ‘Christian-ly,’ rather than neutrally, about every discipline, to recognize the lordship of Jesus Christ over all other disciplines, and to engage the culture and the workplace in ways that are grace-filled and God-honoring.”
She said to that end she will begin her time of service at Blue Mountain by investing the time needed to discern and attend to all the hopes and dreams of the faculty, staff, students, and alumni who proudly call Blue Mountain their alma mater.
“My first goal is to sit down with every person on the faculty and staff, get to know them and what they’re dreams are and then, after a period of time, be able to sort through and really think about what we really need to do to achieve those dreams together.”
She said that growing up in the small town of Falkner gave her a strong sense of community, which she believes will help her as president of BMC.
“I honestly don’t think that ever in my childhood would I have forseen a moment such as this,” she said. “But I see that time spent in a small, close-nit place where people love each other and care about each other is good preparation to be in a place like Blue Mountain. It’s bigger than Falkner, for sure, but with the same sense of community vaules and caring about one another.”
McMillan wants prospective students to know what they’re in for if they’re considering BMC.
“We’re looking at fostering a generation of students who leave this place having examined subjects like history through a Christian lense,” she said. “ I interpret the events of history a certain way because I’m going to look at them through biblical truth, rather than simply looking at facts and not interpreting them in light of what we know as Christians.”
She said that’s a big difference and that students who are looking for places to get their higher education need to understand that difference.
Dr. Carl White, president of the BMC Board of Trustees, also spoke at the press conference and described the process of finding Dr. McMillin, the search beginning in March 2011 and culminating last Thursday with the selection of Dr. McMillin.
“When it came time for the search committee to vote, the chairman passed out seven slips of paper and those slips were all returned with the same name: Dr. McMillin,” White said. “She presented such a compelling vision about Christian higher education and it resonated deeply with the committee.”
White said he and the board believe they have found the right person for the right time.
“Dr. McMillin just has this wonderful vision,” White said. “That seems to be just what Blue Mountain needs right now.”