Midland is a growing community hub

Friday, February 08, 2013

Midland University made headlines in 2012 when its new hybrid masters in business administration program received accreditation, and in the fall when the school welcomed its largest ever incoming class.

Meanwhile, Midland continued to be a community hub, hosting a chili cook-off, prayer breakfast, youth sports, meetings and banquets for civic organizations and the community Thanksgiving dinner, among many other activities.

The Fremont Area Chamber of Commerce, naming Midland its 2012 Business of the Year with more than 25 employees, cited the university’s recent growth “through true leadership and innovation and their commitment to the education of their students.”

The nomination referred to Midland as “a key contributor to Fremont’s economic vitality by helping attract and retain engaging students and young professionals to our growing community.”

The award will be presented during the Chamber’s 2012 Awards Luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Fremont Golf Club.

“We’re very humbled and appreciate that the Chamber and the board would have selected Midland,” said Kari Ridder, Midland’s director of development.

“Midland’s been here for more than 125 years, and that’s an important thing, but this is a really special time at Midland,” she said. “To receive the award at this time is a wonderful tribute to the people who have come alongside and helped us grow into the institution that we want to be, especially within this last year. So many alumni and friends and community leaders have been a part of the growth that’s been happening at Midland.”

The MBA program, offered in partnership with Children’s Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha, launched this week. The unique program combines classroom and online learning.

Midland released enrollment figures in September showing an incoming class of 484 new students, bringing the total campus enrollment to about 1,100 students — 85 percent growth in just three years.

“I think that record enrollment has been the important story of the day for us,” Ridder said.

“It’s exciting, but it’s a real tribute to what our team is doing, the kind of educational offerings that we have, the campus that we can provide, the community that invites students in. It’s all a part of getting those students to come here and then getting them to stay,” she said.

“Our deep roots in the community created stability when times were difficult for Midland and have nourished our growth to bring more talented and hard working students to Fremont,” said Midland President Ben Sasse. “We have benefited

immeasurably from the wise counsel, generous investment and active involvement of the Fremont community in the noble cause of preparing the next generation to lead.

“We are growing at a historic pace,” he said. “The promise and potential the future holds for Midland have been heavily shaped by the values we share as friends and neighbors in the Fremont area.

“Parents and students are choosing Midland because they recognize the mutual commitment to a healthy and prosperous future that is shared throughout this community,” he said.

Ridder said incoming students say the campus “feels like home.”

“You still get all the opportunities of a big school. We’ve got great academic programs, we’ve got masters level programs now, we’ve got 25 varsity sports, we’ve got performing arts that are really, really impressive,” she said. “You can pursue what you want, what you’re passionate about, but you can still get a great education. I think that parents are thinking about Midland differently than they have.”

Strengthened enrollment, Ridder said, is good for the entire community.

“I think in lots of different ways, the easiest one is that you have 1,000 consumers that move into your community with their mom and dad’s disposable cash,” she said. “Then you think about all of the ways that they make an impact. They’re also part-time employees, and they participate in internships so they’re getting good business experiences, and businesses are getting the benefit of that post-secondary education.

“I think there’s been a great connection and we’re seeing that grow where we’ve got more and more students out in the community interning, and a lot of those kids are going to stay. They get connected to this community, so they stay here, they get married and get jobs and have a family here,” she said.

While students are getting out into the community, Fremonters are increasingly finding their way onto the campus as well, participating in local activities hosted there and attending Midland activities.

“A college campus is a nice place for people to come and join in some of those kinds of community events that we’re proud to host here,” Ridder said. “But I think we also add to the cultural landscape in that we’ve got folks that come to a play or concert, or will make going to a sporting event part of their regular family activities.

“We certainly want this campus to be welcoming and open to the Fremont community, we want people to use it and be on campus and be a part of our campus community, so it’s an honor for us to be able to open up doors because of the kinds of spaces that we have available. If we can make a small impact on a group like Big Brothers Big Sisters in that way, that’s our privilege,” she said.

Article from The Fremont Tribune

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