Education: Welch College
The opening of Welch College last year makes Gallatin a member of a very exclusive club. Just 5 percent of Tennessee cities have a residential college campus within their city limits.
Since 1942, Welch College has fulfilled its mission to educate leaders to serve Christ, His Church, and His world through biblical thought and life. It continues that mission today at its new state-of-the-art campus in Gallatin. Welch offers 40 majors with its top programs including theological studies, premed/nursing, business, teacher education and music. Approximately 400 students are enrolled annually from nearly two dozen states and several foreign countries.
The new Welch campus is located north of Station Camp High School between Bison Trail and the Stone Creek subdivision. Buildings housing the school’s administrative offices, classrooms, science labs, library, dormitories, a gymnasium, and a student center were completed in 2017. A Fine Arts building which houses a multi-purpose auditorium, the music department, and dining facilities opened in fall 2017. “This $30 million investment makes Welch one of just two post-secondary institutions with a main campus in Sumner County—and the county’s only residential college,” said Dr. Charles Lea, Professor of Educational Leadership and Special Assistant to the President for Adult Education. “As we look to the future, we want to provide more programs that have a direct impact on Gallatin and the surrounding area.”
They’re already off to a good start with several new programs and partnerships in the works.
A nursing education collaborative launching this year will enable students to attend Welch for their first two years, then go on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing at a partner university while continuing to live on the Welch campus. The schools’ community service requirement means an influx of nursing students will be volunteering in area healthcare and long-term care facilities. “Our students give more than 10,000 hours of community service each year,” says Dr. Lea. “This helps students develop a strong bond to the community.”
In a dual enrollment program piloting this year, students at Station Camp High School can walk across the street and take college courses at Welch. Officials are working on developing similar dual enrollment programs with other high schools in the area.
Welch, nationally known for top-ranked associate’s and bachelor’s degree programs, is also expanding its menu of graduate degree programs. Students can now earn a master’s degree in ministry and theology, and a master’s degree in education will be developed during the 2017-18 academic year. “Our goal is to create unique opportunities in education instead of mirroring what's already being offered,” says Dr. Lea.
Welch is also a key player in Tennessee Reconnect, a state-wide initiative to help adults enter higher education to gain new skills, advance in the workplace, and fulfill lifelong dreams of completing a degree or credential. “We offer many programs for students taking advantage of Tennessee Reconnect scholarships,” notes Dr. Lea. The school’s Enriched Adult Studies Program offers degrees in education, business, and ministry. Business students can focus their studies in high-demand fields such as manufacturing, supply chain logistics, and healthcare management. Students interested in ministry careers can participate in a unique certificate program taught entirely in Spanish.
As Gallatin grows, Welch will grow along with it. “We are very excited to be up and running on our new Gallatin campus,” adds Dr. Lea, “We view these programs as a way to support the community that has extended such a warm welcome to us.”