President Baxter updates Lions Club on LaGrange College

Published 9:00 am Wednesday, September 1, 2021

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LaGrange College President Susanna Baxter met with the LaGrange Lions Club Tuesday to share the ups and downs the college has experienced the last few years and what changes are on the horizon.

Baxter, who stepped into the role of president in July 2020, shared how COVID-19 has been a major contributing factor to the college’s low enrollment in the last two years.

Friday will be the last day for students to drop their classes, and so far the college has 650 students enrolled compared to last year’s 750 students. The college would usually have close to 1,000 students enrolled.

“Some students want the full college experience,” Baxter explained. “Last year, there wasn’t much of a social life, there wasn’t a lot of activities [and] sports didn’t happen… it definitely has had an impact.”

During this drop, Baxter is leading an initiative for the college to be more “student-centered” by creating a comfortable environment for students as part of a new strategic plan.

This initiative includes updating the Edmondson Parlor in Smith Hall into a sort of student hangout, moderating some of the various programs offered at the college and bringing in Jenzabar One, a cloud-ready platform that will provide better internet access for students.

Moreover, the college is pushing for more community involvement in terms of its theatre and athletics. The school is also putting more emphasis on its community service and internship opportunities for its students and encourages the community to engage with students to help them address this need.

“On average, we have about 70 interns who are in Troup County and the surrounding area who are interning annually in the community,” Baxter said.

“One of our core values is community service … we want our students to internalize that. On average, [our students have spent] over 4,500 hours in the last three years  [serving in] the community.”

Baxter noted that LaGrange has a high qualified graduate rate for students, many of whom tend to stay in the community following graduation.

“Thirty percent of our graduates have stayed in Troup County,” Baxter said. “37 percent of our teachers remain in Troup County [and] 45 percent of our nurses remain in the county.”

To close the meeting, Lions Club of LaGrange President Shane Frailey presented Baxter with a $5,000 check, the final payment the college will make for the William and Marjorie Fackler – Lions Club Endowed Scholarship Grant.

In May 2018, the Lions Club of LaGrange entered into an agreement with the LaGrange College to establish the William and Marjorie Fackler – Lions Club Endowed Scholarship Grant, which totaled $25,000 for five years and $5,000 a year to “rising juniors or seniors majoring in biology, chemistry, biochemistry, nursing or exercise science.”

On Tuesday, four years into the agreement, the Lions Club paid the last $10,000 of the agreement, allowing a student to possibly benefit from the scholarship next year without having to wait another year, Frailey said. The scholarship was created in honor of William Fackler, a doctor in the community who was a member of the Lions Club for 67 years.

“Up until he died, he never stopped,” said Martha Pirkle, director of Alumni and Community Relations at the LaGrange College. “He was coming when he probably shouldn’t have been here.”