BLUE MOUNTAIN — As administrators at Blue Mountain College plan for record enrollment this fall, renovations are underway to make sure there’s room for everybody.
The school is sprucing up four houses it owns on the southern edge of campus. They’ll serve as lodging for male and female upperclassmen.
Four years ago Blue Mountain, which is supported by the Mississippi Baptist Convention, set a goal of enrolling 600 students by 2012. Administrators figured they’d need that many students supporting the programming budget to continue offering the same services.
More than 500 students attended classes at Blue Mountain during the spring 2010 term. Based on how things are shaping up for the fall, Dr. Bettye Coward, who took over as the college’s seventh president in 2001, is hopeful the school will surpass the 2012 goal when classes start Aug. 19.
Housing has become an issue sooner than expected on the 142-acre campus, half of which hasn’t been developed and extends a mile north from the main buildings.
Two years ago Blue Mountain reached another goal it set for 2012 by boarding at least 175 students in its three dormitories. According to Coward, as many as 250 students may live on campus this fall.
Located at the eastern end of West Main Street, the newly renovated Guyton House will accommodate up to 10 women. Right beside it, Haynie House will have room for six women. A few yards west, Palmer House should provide a new home for six men. A block south of campus, Travis House likely will house 10 male boarders.
Blue Mountain College was founded in 1873 as an all-female institution. Males have lived in off-campus, school-owned housing, including Travis House, since the institution first offered classes to men in 1956. Those classes were for men entering church-related vocations.
In 2003 men moved into their own dormitory on campus and two years later Blue Mountain became a fully coeducational institution.
The college is also considering renovating an old bank building it owns just east of Guyton House.
The nearly 10,000 sq. ft. structure has been empty since the mid 1990s, but Blue Mountain administrators are talking with architects about converting the two-story building into a bookstore and gift shop as well as classrooms, a space for business conferences and a coffee shop.