By: Hollie Deese
In March, Gallatin got something only five percent of the rest of the country’s cities have – a residential college. Welch College opened its doors just north of Station Camp High School on March 13, 2017.
About 400 students were on campus of the four-year Christian College opening day says Matt Pinson, Welch College president. And the brand new campus is a completely different vibe that the school’s longtime previous location in Nashville.
Welch College opened in 1942 on West End Avenue, though most of the buildings had been built at the turn of the 20th century. After seventy-five years in its previous location Welch College sold its seven-acre campus to Franklin-based Mike Ford Custom Builders in 2015 for $11.25 million.
“We looked at a number of different suburban areas in the Nashville area, and this just appeared to be the best in terms of growth potential,” Matt says of Sumner County, where they first began looking in 2007. “We were looking for job opportunities for our students, places to enjoy recreation and the outdoor life, and Sumner County’s excellent.”
Matt also cites the county’s excellent healthcare and available housing in a number of different price ranges for their faculty and staff as other factors to building a new campus in Gallatin.
“All those things just kind of fell into place and made Sumner County seem like the best option for us,” he says. “It’s a lot different here, and it’s a little bit slower pace of life, but it’s welcome and it’s really been enjoyable being out here. And it’s a totally different feel out here with brand new buildings, brand new heating and air conditioning systems.”
Welch College is both regionally and nationally accredited and ranked one of the South’s best colleges by U.S. News and World Report. There is a 10:1 student to faculty ratio, a real benefit to being held academically accountable. And there is space to accommodate 225 dorm students in addition to day commuters.
“Being a part of a great community here in Sumner County and Gallatin that has responded so well to us and has received us so well and just really made us feel welcome,” he says. “And everything is new. It’s kind of an unusual situation to be able to build a brand new college campus. It’s in a beautiful location right across from Station Camp High School, tucked away in a really nice little area near Station Camp Creek. There’s a lot of beauty here.”
Of course, Matt doesn’t mind the reduced maintenance costs compared to the old campus, and students are loving the brand new dorm rooms.
“Our students are saying that the rooms are like hotel rooms compared to what they were in in Nashville,” Matt says.
Welch also launched its new Enriched Adult Studies Program in April, offering classes leading to associate’s and bachelor’s degrees catered to adults who want to return to college and complete their degree. Degrees offered will include Biology, Business, Christian Ministry, Teacher Education and Post-Baccalaureate Teacher Licensure.
“We’ll have classes on nights and weekends, and it’s very flexible for the working adult,” Matt says. “We also have online classes that they can take, so that makes it more flexible for them to complete their degree.”
Welch also plans to partner with Volunteer State Community College, Union University and Sumner Regional Medical Center to develop a nursing program.
“Students get personalized attention and wonderful training and education, not only on how to make a living, but how to make a life,” Matt says. “We’re intentionally Christian in the way we view education. We are regionally accredited by SACS. We have forty programs of study. We’re just kind of a best-kept secret here in Middle Tennessee and a great small college.”
To learn more about Welch College, visit welch.edu.