University’s founder returns for graduation

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer

Ten years ago, the Clovis campus of Wayland Baptist University consisted of a black filing cabinet, two old desks and four rotary dial telephones at Cannon Air Force Base. The first semester commenced with 15 students.

Within a year, enrollment had soared to 100.

The woman who founded the campus, Carol Green, returned Friday to Clovis to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the campus and the graduation of its latest class.

“It’s so nice to come back to something you helped create and see that it is still flourishing,” said Green, dean of the school of professional studies at George Fox University in Oregon.

Much has changed since she raised the campus from nothing. Enrollment hovers near 250. Headquarters have moved to downtown Clovis. However, the values at the heart of Wayland — Christianity and “caring about every person who walks in the door” — were never lost, Green said.

“Our success,” Green said, “is measured one person at a time.”

The Wayland tradition continued Friday as 35 students were awarded bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

Among those who received bachelor’s degrees Friday were Vincent Phillips and his wife, Sarita.

The couple are active-duty personnel at Cannon Air Force Base. The husband and wife wanted to graduate together.

“It seems like it’s been such a long, long journey,” said Vincent Phillips, who enrolled in his first college course in 1989.

The demands of work and family kept degrees at bay until 2007, the couple said.

“It’s a relief, a big relief,” Sarita Phillips said.

Also graduating Friday was Sarah Lunt. The road to a bachelor’s degree was difficult, said Lunt, who is stationed at Cannon.

“But it was well worth it,” the graduate said with a wide smile.

“It’s a great sense of accomplishment,” she said.

Fast facts

U.S. Census data from 2000 showed that among Americans 25 and older:

• 21 percent had taken some college courses, but had not earned a degree, compared with 18.7 percent 10 years earlier.

• 15.5 percent had earned a bachelor’s degree but no higher, compared with 13.1
percent in 1990.

• 8.9 percent earned graduate or professional degrees, compared with 7.2 percent earlier.

Source: U.S. Census