President’s Newsletter – March 2024

This newsletter from Bob Jones University Acting CEO Alan Benson is intended to inform BJU’s alumni and friends of student and faculty achievements and campus programs and activities. Communication regarding this newsletter may be addressed to [email protected].

Message from Acting CEO Alan Benson

2024 Bible Conference

We were privileged here on campus to enjoy our annual Bible Conference, Feb. 13–16. It was a time of spiritual enrichment for the campus community and our guests from around the country, and it was a time — as related to me by many students — when God worked in individual hearts.

The theme for this year’s conference was “Look on the Fields: Cultivating a Heart for the Harvest.” The emphasis throughout the week was on evangelism — the natural result of first loving God and then loving others — and on changing one’s perspective from the temporal to the eternal.

I opened the conference Tuesday evening, and Wednesday through Friday, we held three services each day at 10 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Conference speakers were chosen from sister institutions who share our biblical philosophy of ministry and passion for the Gospel. Each also is, or has been, a senior pastor. Each is uniquely gifted to proclaim God’s Word, equipped to handle it accurately and committed to expositional preaching.

  • Dr. Jim Tillotson, president of Faith Baptist Bible College and Theological Seminary in Ankeny, Iowa, and former senior pastor of Meadowlands Baptist Church, Edmonton, Alberta
  • Dr. Matt Morrell, president of Central Baptist Theological Seminary and senior pastor of Fourth Baptist Church in Plymouth, Minnesota
  • Dr. Brent Belford, faculty member at Virginia Baptist Theological Seminary and senior pastor of Colonial Baptist Church, Virginia Beach, Virginia
  • Dr. Dave Doran, president of Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary and senior pastor of Inter-City Baptist Church, Allen Park, Michigan
  • Dr. Billy Gotcher of our BJU Seminary, who pastored several churches before joining our faculty

Here at BJU, we make prayer a priority at every conference. Each day, students, faculty, staff and guests gathered before the morning service to pray for God to work through the messages and activities of the day.

On Thursday evening, beginning at 7 p.m. and going through Friday at 7 p.m., SermonAudio — which is located in the Mack Building on our campus — sponsored a 24-hour prayer meeting. Over 200 men and women students participated in person, with some students present in each of the 24 hours. The freshman women’s residence hall — Mary Gaston — owned the 3–5 a.m. slot. In addition, friends from 18 countries outside the United States joined the prayer meeting via Zoom.

Bible Conference 2024 was an incredible opportunity to be fed from God’s Word and encouraged by wonderful fellowship.

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Bible Conference Offering Supports Dare for More

Johnson Burgers Fundraiser

The 2024 Bible Conference offering is going to Dare for More Ministries, whose mission is to create an arm of prevention and intervention for women in Guatemala impacted by trafficking, abusive relationships and poverty. The goal is to meet the crises these women and their children find themselves in and introduce them to the Savior.

Dare for More was founded by Reba Bowman, a 1989 BJU education graduate who also earned a master’s from BJU in 1991.

Dare for More recently opened its first safe house and plans to open multiple safe houses across Guatemala. These houses will enable women and their children to find a secure place to stay. They also plan to open several training centers where women can be taught a trade to support themselves and thus start over.

The offering goal was $150,000 for a ministry van, which will be used to pick up women and children and transport them to the safe house, and a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Guatemala is a mountainous country, and many villages are hard to reach. A four-wheel-drive vehicle will allow the Dare for More team to access remote locations and deliver supplies and resources.

Students, primarily by society, organized over 50 fundraisers to meet the offering goal. Some related to food like Caffeine for a Cause, Fried Oreos, Beta Dogs, Boba Tea and Johnson Burgers. Some related to events, such as the Tour de Omega, a 239-mile bike ride from Greenville to Charleston, a succulent sale, speed dating and a Mystery Magic Show. Some involved games: Murder Mystery, Faculty Feud, The Hazardous Heist Escape Room and various sports tournaments.

Proceeds from these fundraisers — along with generous gifts from alumni and friends — exceeded the goal for a total at the end of the last Bible Conference service Friday night of $151,303.59. This amount does not include funds raised after the service Friday night or several events scheduled within the next few weeks.

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Search for BJU President Progressing

The Bob Jones University Board of Trustees is continuing the search for BJU’s sixth president. In the call for nominations last fall, approximately 140 individuals were recommended to the Board’s nominating committee. The nominating committee has filtered out those who do not meet the presidential profile and job qualifications and is now finalizing a very deliberative process of narrowing down the others to approximately five or so candidates they want to interview.

“Working through the search process with thoroughness and integrity takes time, and the Board remains committed to conducting the process in the right way,” said the Chairman of the Board of Trustees. While at this point, the Chairman cannot say who the nominating committee will present to the full Board for a vote or when that will happen, he said he is sure they are seriously considering only candidates for president who would not change the mission or direction of the University when it comes to theological positions and administrative policy. He further said, “The Board is committed to making the right decision — to depending on God to reveal His choice for the next president.”

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Nursing Simulation Lab Granted Full Accreditation

Nursing Simulation Lab Granted Full Accreditation
Nursing Simulation Lab

At the end of 2023, BJU’s Division of Nursing Simulation Center was granted full accreditation status by the Society for Simulation in Healthcare, the largest healthcare simulation accreditation body in the world. Their goal is to improve healthcare outcomes by reducing errors in care through the use of simulation in a variety of modalities.

After the Simulation Center received provisional accreditation status in May 2021, the nursing faculty submitted two years of data collected in the state-of-the-art lab and hosted a site visit by the accreditors this past November. In December, we were notified we had been granted full accreditation for five years. BJU is now one of only two fully accredited simulation centers in South Carolina outside a hospital system.

“Our mission is to prepare godly, competent healthcare professionals,” said Abigail Washburn, director of the Center. “Accreditation is an important step to formalize the quality work BJU has been doing for years and continue to improve.”

The Nursing Simulation Center is a key part of our nursing training as it enables students to practice their skills in a low-stakes environment where they can communicate with colleagues and manage crises, which receive constructive faculty feedback. Working with human patient simulators and standardized patients gives students experience with procedures they cannot perform in clinical settings and eases the transition to working in the healthcare field.

The simulation center also provides interdisciplinary activities for students majoring in language — medical interpretation — and multimedia journalism. In the summer, several EDUcamp groups utilize the nursing simulation center.

Nursing is one of the top ten declared majors at BJU. Since the fall of 1979, the nursing program has had 1,316 graduates. The NCLEX-RN pass rate for BJU graduates is 97.8% compared to the national average of 88.6%. BJU nursing graduates typically outperform national and South Carolina pass rates.

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Students Attend Naval Academy Leadership Conference

Students Attend Naval Academy Leadership Conference
Students at Naval Academy Leadership Conference

Four BJU students attended the three-day Leadership Conference at the U.S. Naval Academy at the end of January: Adam Banks, from Lake Ariel, Pennsylvania, and Erin Albert, from Cincinnati, Ohio — both senior business administration majors; Jonathan Daulton, a senior communication major from Greenville, South Carolina; and Aya Cathey, a senior Spanish major from Yona, Guam. These students were selected to attend because of their proven leadership on campus.

The Naval Academy began hosting this leadership conference for senior cadets and midshipmen from each of the service academies in 1984, and since 2002, has included students from civilian universities. They have broadened the scope to include leadership topics relevant to government, business and academia, as well as the military.

Over 400 participate each year from 45 military and civilian colleges.

The conference’s mission “is to bring together the best minds in the practice and study of leadership to exchange ideas, experiences, and methodologies with both military and civilian undergraduate students of leadership.”

This conference gives students the opportunity to hear keynote speeches on leadership from proven Naval leaders and discuss leadership principles with students from other institutions. BJU students thrive in these small discussion groups as they share biblically based leadership principles.

In April, for the third year, BJU has been invited to send two students to the Naval Academy’s Foreign Affairs Conference and will select key student leaders with interest in and knowledge of foreign affairs.

It is an honor for Bob Jones University to have students participate in these conferences. They learn much and contribute much, especially from a conservative Christian viewpoint.

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BJU Serves the Community on MLK Day

BJU Serves the Community on MLK Day
MLK Day Service Project

On January 15, a number of BJU students, faculty and staff participated in the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.

“Our students’ willingness to volunteer on a day off from class demonstrates their love and appreciation for our neighbors,” said Dr. Mark Vowels, director of BJU’s Center for Global Opportunities.

Assisted by the CGO, student leaders from the Community Service Council planned the outreach efforts and coordinated the day’s activities.

Approximately 135 students and several faculty and staff provided over 25 days — 601 hours — of volunteer service across the upstate of South Carolina, providing valuable assistance in 10 projects at seven organizations.

For example, at Upstate Circle of Friends’ sweet potato giveaway, 38 students and several faculty and staff set up and tore down the event, directed traffic, and packed and loaded potato sacks into cars.

  • Twenty-two students delivered Meals on Wheels.
  • Thirteen students painted children’s classrooms at a local church, and six did painting and landscaping at a second church.
  • At two Home Works of America sites, 22 students performed landscaping, built a deck railing and performed interior construction projects.
  • At two Miracle Hill Thrift Stores, 21 students organized donations and cleaned portions of the facilities.
  • Five students volunteered at Cultivate Sports, a non-profit sports ministry working in underserved communities.
  • Four students performed yardwork for a retiree.

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BJU Calculator Helps Students Determine Financial Aid

Many prospective college students around the country are delaying submitting their application for the next academic year, or — if they have applied to a college and been accepted — they are delaying committing to the college or university. The reason? They do not yet know what college is actually going to cost.

Many students depend on federal financial aid, but that aid is being awarded much later this year.

Several pieces of federal legislation passed between 2019 and 2022 required the federal government to update the 2024–25 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). While the changes have resulted in a streamlined application, they delayed the availability of the application. Typically, FAFSA opens on October 1. For 2024–25, it did not open until December 30.

In addition to the application being delayed, the distribution of the results is also delayed. This delay is due in part to the Department of Education’s late decision to account for inflation in the tables that it uses to shield a percentage of a family’s income and assets from the Student Aid Index calculation. While students can — and should — complete the FAFSA now, the changes have delayed the communication of FAFSA results to colleges and universities, thus preventing students from knowing how much college will actually cost. The Department of Education now estimates it will be mid-March before they provide FAFSA results to colleges and universities.

To help students and their families evaluate potential college costs without having to wait until financial packages are sent out, Bob Jones University offers two online tools. First is the BJU Net Price Calculator, designed to give students a very close estimate of how much and what types of financial aid they might qualify for.

The calculator includes the information to determine Pell Grant eligibility and estimates what BJU aid a student is eligible to receive as well. It compares that to the actual costs of attending BJU so a student will have a good idea of what their out-of-pocket costs will be to attend BJU. A video on how to easily use the Net Price Calculator is available here. Later, when the federal government releases financial aid information, BJU will provide a final financial aid package to admitted students.

The second tool, the BJU Aid Calculator, helps students identify any aid they could qualify for from BJU without demonstrating financial need.

Students who have previously been ineligible for a Pell Grant are encouraged to fill out the FAFSA this year. The federal government estimates that over 600,000 students who were previously unable to receive need-based Pell Grants will be eligible this year.

Students interested in receiving need-based aid from their state also need to complete the FAFSA.

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BJU Holds High School Mathematics Tournament

2024 Guthrie Mathematics Tournament

On February 3, Bob Jones University hosted the second annual Guthrie Mathematics Tournament — a single-day math competition for public, charter, private and homeschool high school students. The event is named in honor of Dr. Gary Guthrie, who taught mathematics at BJU for over 50 years. The competition is designed to challenge future STEM majors in their problem-solving abilities and build community within the field of mathematics.

Twenty-six participants from Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina used their mathematical skills and logical thinking in individual and team formats. The students participated in sessions on the mathematical topic of fractals and learned tips about choosing a STEM college program.

In individual competition, students attempted 30 problems across a variety of mathematical disciplines and as teams, collaborated on solving 10 challenge questions and a speed round of math-related questions. The tournament concluded with a logical math puzzle challenge similar to an escape room.

One student commented that she had participated in a calculus challenge at another university, but “this was the place to be.” A teacher called it a stellar, well-planned and executed event and said she would be encouraging her contacts at other schools to come next year. Another commented that the students loved the puzzle challenge and getting to meet other math lovers.

“We’re excited to have spent time with such gifted students,” said Dr. Melissa Gardenghi, chair of the BJU Division of Mathematical Sciences. “Their enthusiasm for math and logic is invigorating. We hope to work with them in future years at EDUcamp or as a STEM major at the collegiate level.”

Throughout the competition, six BJU mathematical faculty members judged the submissions and guided the students. Students had the opportunity to interact with collegiate math students and faculty and explore potential pathways to a career in mathematical sciences.

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Worldview Collectives Continue to Address Student Concerns

Renton Rathbun, Director of the Center for Biblical Worldview
Renton Rathbun, Director of the Center for Biblical Worldview

BJU has a strong emphasis on biblical worldview in the classroom and student organizations and activities. In addition, Dr. Renton Rathbun, director of BJU’s Center for Biblical Worldview, conducts an average of three Worldview Collectives each semester in which he and faculty panelists address topics relevant to today’s college students. These sessions seek to reenforce biblical principles, which we desire students to adopt as the foundation of their viewpoints on current issues. We also want to use these sessions to equip students to defend their biblical positions.

The first Worldview Collective of the spring semester, February 27, was Part II of a collective on dating and relationships. Because of the nature of the topic and to enable direct questions, separate sessions were held for women and men students.

The men’s session, moderated by Dr. Rathbun, featured panelists Dr. Billy Gotcher of the BJU Seminary faculty and Dr. Zack Carter from the Communication faculty. Rachel Dahlhausen, counselor in the Student Care Office; Michelle Benson, head of Student Health Services; and Sharyn Robertson of the cinematic arts faculty comprised the panel for the women’s session moderated by Dr. Lindsay Egli, chair of the Division of Health Sciences. Well over 400 students attended these sessions.

Two additional Worldview Collective sessions will be held this semester, one with an apologetics theme and the other focused on personal evangelism.

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Bruins Host 52nd High School Invitational Basketball Tournament

Bruins Host 52nd High School Invitational Basketball Tournament
High School Invitational Basketball Tournament

The Bruins athletes welcomed 16 teams from several states for the 52nd annual BJU Bruins High School Invitational Basketball Tournament in the Davis Field House on the Bob Jones University campus on January 24–26.

Women’s teams represented Bob Jones Academy, Greenville, South Carolina; Colonial Christian School, Indianapolis, Indiana; Grace Christian School, Huntington, West Virginia; Greenville Hurricanes, Greenville, South Carolina; Life Christian Academy, Kissimmee, Florida; State Line Rush, Galax, Virginia; Trinity Christian School, Greenville, North Carolina; and Rock Springs Christian Academy, Milner, Georgia.

Men’s teams represented Bob Jones Academy; Brooklane Baptist Academy, Hueytown, Alabama; Colonial Christian School; Grace Christian School; Life Christian Academy; Trinity Christian Academy, Deltona, Florida; Trinity Christian School; and Rock Springs Christian Academy.

The Greenville Hurricanes were the Invitational’s women’s champions and Bob Jones Academy the men’s champions.

The Don C. Ward Sportsmanship Award went to the men’s team from Grace Christian School and the women’s team from Rock Springs Christian Academy. The award is named for Don Ward, who served at Bob Jones University for over 20 years. Don ran the invitational high school program, managed the University’s intramural program and taught courses in Health Sciences.

Interest in participation in future tournaments can be directed to

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BJU Press Celebrates 50 Years

BJU Press will celebrate its 50th year throughout 2024.

BJU Press published its first textbook — Physical Science — in 1974 and today is one of the world’s largest producers of textbooks and educational materials for Christian schools and homeschools. Students in 130 countries use over 2,000,000 BJU Press products every day.

BJU Press seeks to support teachers and families by producing educational content, resources and tools that are grounded in a biblical worldview, strong in academic content and relevant to today’s students. They are particularly focused on shaping a student’s biblical worldview and three or four times a year conduct Biblical Worldview Conferences to help Christian school teachers and administrators integrate a biblical worldview into classroom content.

It all began when two BJU faculty — George Mulfinger and Emmett Williams — saw the need for a biblically accurate, academically rigorous science textbook for 9th grade. In the early days, the entire operation was housed in a 6-by-10-foot room and supported by many volunteers and employees from multiple BJU departments. Today, there are over 450 employees operating within over 190,000 square feet of space. BJU Press has become the largest manufacturer within the Greenville, South Carolina, city limits.

BJU Press will celebrate its anniversary with a summer of service in which it will partner with and serve several ministries in the community. A highlight of the year-long celebration will be a reception for friends and former employees during BJU’s Homecoming in October.

Visit to learn more about the history of BJU Press and its anniversary activities.

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BJU Students Selected for State Honor Band

Blair Carrier and Zachary Davidson

Each year, the South Carolina chapter of the College Band Directors National Association assembles an honor band of the State’s finest college players to perform in a weekend clinic with an internationally renowned conductor.

This year, nine BJU students were nominated and accepted into the band. After seating auditions, four BJU students earned second chair and two — Blair Carrier, senior orchestral instrument performance major from Greer, South Carolina, on flute and Zachary Davidson, senior music major from Clinton, South Carolina, on trombone — were named principal chairs of their respective sections.

Other BJU students selected for the honor band include Anwyn Ashley, senior orchestral instrument performance major from Taylors, South Carolina, flute; Lydia Scroggins, junior orchestral instrument performance major from Travelers Rest, South Carolina, clarinet and harp; Natalie Thorson, senior music major from Brainerd, Minnesota, trumpet; Jonathan Freeman, senior music education major from Graham, North Carolina, trumpet; Nicholas Evener, junior orchestral instrument performance major from Lancaster, Ohio, horn; Jon Redlinger, senior music education major from Taylors, South Carolina, euphonium; and Connor Christ, senior computer science major from Taylors, South Carolina, euphonium.

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Visit Campus on Us

In December, Bob Jones University announced a travel offer available to any student in the 11th or 12th grade who has never visited the BJU campus. If a prospective student registers with the Welcome Center for a Personal Campus Visit or for BJU Up Close and participates in the scheduled events during the visit, BJU will provide:

  • $50 Bruins gift card if the student lives 0–50 miles from campus,
  • $250 if the student lives 50–300 miles from campus,
  • $500 if the student lives 300–700 miles from campus, and
  • $750 if the student lives 700+ miles from campus.

Three more BJU Up Close visits are scheduled this semester — Mar. 7–8, Mar. 28–29, and Apr. 18–19. Personal Campus Visits may be scheduled at any time.

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Roundtable Emphasizes the Pastor’s Prayer Life

Roundtable Emphasizes the Pastor’s Prayer Life
Pastors' Roundtable

On a Saturday morning near the beginning of each semester, the School of Theology and Global Leadership conducts a Pastors’ Roundtable open to local pastors in the area and students preparing for pastoral ministry.

For pastors, the session provides connections with BJU students training for the ministry, an opportunity to learn from other pastors in the discussions and a network for finding young men to intern in their churches. Students gain the opportunity to ask ministry-related questions, engage with different ministry subjects and network with experienced pastors.

The theme of this year’s session at the end of January was “The Pastor’s Prayer Life as It Relates to Leadership in Ministry.” Panel members included former faculty member and dean of the School of Religion, Dr. Royce Short, along with two local pastors, Dr. Mark Minnick of Mount Calvary Baptist Church and Rev. Armen Thomassian of Faith Free Presbyterian Church, both in Greenville, South Carolina.

After discussion by the panelists, participants interacted with the topic through various roundtables.

A corresponding women’s session — led by faculty member Cindy Garland — focused on “Becoming a Woman of Prayer” and featured three lay women as panelists: Kirsten Daulton, Charity Erkens and Eileen Berry. The panelists led themed prayer sessions on approaching God and remembering His mercies and responded as a panel to student questions.

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Upcoming Dates

  • March 7–8 — BJU Up Close
  • March 14 — Allen Jacobs Memorial Prayer Breakfast
  • March 17–24 — Spring Break
  • March 28–29 — BJU Up Close
  • March 28–30 — Living Gallery
  • April 9–11 — AACS National Competition
  • April 18–19 — Haydn’s The Creation
  • May 2 — Baccalaureate and Legacy Ceremony
  • May 3 — Commencement
  • June 21–22 — Summer Orientation

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