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Mission University President Mark Milioni says students and their parents are drawn to the school for its Christian-based values.
Tawnie Wilson | SBJ
Mission University President Mark Milioni says students and their parents are drawn to the school for its Christian-based values.

Baptist Bible College makes way for Mission University

The north-side Springfield school unveils a new name and campus renovation plans

Posted online

The leadership of Mission University has its eyes on the future with a recent rebranding announcement.

The north-side Springfield higher education institution on Jan. 25 unveiled its name change from Baptist Bible College. Indiana-based Caylor Solutions served as consultant for the naming process, which yielded around 11 ideas before the choice of Mission University, said college President Mark Milioni, noting Springfield branding and marketing firm Longitude LLC worked on the school’s new branding design.

“It sets us up for the future,” Milioni said in an interview with Springfield Business Journal after the announcement, noting the new name reflects a desire to attract a broader Christian audience. “Our name kept our pool of potential students to kind of a small group. It’s an opportunity for us to open the door to a lot more people.”

The 75-year-old Christian school that partners with the Baptist Bible Fellowship International currently has 360 students. That’s down from 371 in the fall, but Milioni said the numbers are encouraging.

“Most colleges have a 10%-20% loss, so we actually did pretty good this year,” he said of attrition between the fall and spring semesters.

Milioni said students at Mission University typically choose from around 25 degree programs offered through its three major divisions: ministry studies, the college of education and the college of business.

“The trustees, faculty and students are excited to be a part of this next chapter in the school’s history, as it continues to attract students seeking higher education within a variety of fields,” said Benjamin Newhouse, a member of Mission University’s 10-member board of trustees, via email.

Students also have the opportunity to utilize partnerships Mission University has with schools like Indiana Wesleyan University and Cox College, allowing them to further expand their education while living at Mission’s 628 E. Kearney St. campus. That’s one of the selling points, he said, for students and parents alike.

“Most of our students, a majority of our students, are from small towns and small high schools,” Milioni said, noting parents like the idea of a Christian institution with Mission’s values.

The university’s core values, according its website, include a biblical, Christ-centered higher education experience that recognizes scriptural authority, a biblical worldview and the need for global evangelism.

“Christian schools are booming,” Milioni said.

A September 2023 report by Christian media magazine Christianity Today found eleven evangelical colleges and universities across the country, including Asbury University in Kentucky and East Texas Baptist University, had record enrollment during the fall semester.

Newhouse said he understands the importance of Christian education.

“The trustees enthusiastically desired and pursued making this name change for the school a reality. We believe it better reflects the transformation of the school into what it has become – a well-rounded, Christian university providing multiple educational fields of study,” said Newhouse, CEO of Springfield-based Vineyard Asset Management LLC. “However, we really appreciate the new Mission University name still embodies the original purpose of the school since its founding, which has always been to educate, inspire and equip students to serve as effective Christian leaders.”

Beyond the name change, Mission University is mulling myriad campus changes that Milioni said would help it be “the bright shining example on the north side.”

Officials are considering a capital campaign to pay for campus renovations that would enhance its exterior.

“We’re in the process right now of figuring out the financial process of it. We’re definitely going to go in phases,” said Milioni, estimating campus projects would be in the millions of dollars. “We have done a lot on the inside but very little on the outside.

“We’ve got proposals, some architectural sketches.”

That work would position the school well if, as has previously been discussed by city stakeholders, work is done on the north side and specifically Kearney Street to liven up that part of the Queen City.

“I really hope that we can continue to see a lot of interest and opportunity on the north side,” he said. “We’re here, so we’re going to do what we can.”

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