W.L. Bonner College is at a very special time in its history. The College has reached a 20-year milestone, where the Founding President has transitioned from labor to reward. The Late President W. L. Bonner, made many sacrifices for the preservation of this institution. It was an exciting time when he cast his vision for an accredited college, to be established in Columbia, South Carolina. The College has trained more than 3,000 serving in full-time and market-place ministries, including those who aspired training as pastors, evangelists, teachers, mission workers, and mentors.
The College is now led by its second president, Elaine McQueen, who served on the Task Force Committee. Other members of the Team were Tony Johnson, Sr., Bertha Davis, Tony Wallace, Petri-Carrington Jones, and Charlie Jones. Dr. Celeste Ashe-Johnson now serves as the College’s sixth Board Chairperson.
The College opened its doors in September, 1995, with 497 students enrolled for the first semester. To date the college has educated and trained more than 2,500 pastors, missionaries, teachers, and other Christian workers, through its bachelor, associate, certificate, and continuing education programs. The College’s student head increased as President Bonner met with the Board of Presbyters, during the denomination’s (COOLJC) Convocation in August 1997. At this meeting 35 ministers and missionaries were recruited for the Institute Program, where students commute to campus one week per month, for four months. This program increased the student head count by 56 percent. Joining the student body in 1998, were two students from Liberia, West Africa.
In January 2011, the continuing education program was enhanced to include certificate programs, which enrolled 50 more students (Cohorts 1, 2 and 3). The College also requested a substantive change to offer online degree programs. The WLBC alumni and graduates hail from 25 states in the United States of America, West Africa, and the Caribbean.
W.L. Bonner College has established extension sites in four locations; Orangeburg, SC, Greenville, SC, Charleston, SC, and Sumter, SC.
Faculty, Professors, and Instructors
The students’ success is due, in part, to the wealth of knowledge and experiences that flow from faculty and instructors. Faculty members hailed from various states of the United States and other countries (Tanzania, West Africa, and Guatemala). Fifty percent of current faculty are doctoral-level, 25 percent seek doctoral-level degrees, and 25 percent are master’s-level.
While celebrating both institutional and individual achievements, the College seeks to raise the awareness of the need for the higher learning experience, among both traditional and non-traditional students. The higher calling goes beyond that of pastors, but every person created in the image of God is called to live a life that is relational, transformational, and missional. The Word of God transforms all; as image bearers, all students will be capable of living successfully in a world where biblical norms are challenged (sanctity of life and the biblical definition of family, in particular), and truth has become relative, rather than absolute. Traditional and non-traditional students will articulate a biblical worldview, which refutes non-biblical thought systems and views.
Significant progress has been made; however, the College will build upon its present level of institutional performance, by expanding the vision to ensure a brighter future. The leadership envisions a larger student body, by recruiting more students for the on-campus programs and extension sites. There will also be an increase in the number of qualified human resources to meet the intellectual and academic, spiritual, social, physical, and socio-economic needs of students. Facilities will be expanded to house the various programs and services. Technological services will be adequate to support the present and future infrastructure. Development and fundraising projects will be enhanced to ensure the fiscal health of the institution, including additional human resources for fiscal management.
Today, the College stands strong in its determination to expand its mission scope to reach individuals at all age levels, races and ethnic groups, to offer the higher learning experience, which equips them for their higher calling.
The College has bold aspirations and intentions to preserve its legacy, by ensuring accessibility, accountability, and affordability, for those potential students who are unable to commute to campus. As interest in the College’s studies grew, the College President instituted extension sites in South Carolina (Charleston, Greenville, and Orangeburg). A site will begin in Sumter, South Carolina, Fall 2016. At least one extension site will be considered for an extension school over the next two years.
Whether students matriculate through traditional or non-traditional programs, they all pursue the same majors; those that are outlined and described in the Academic Catalog. To connect students in all programs, some professors hold class lectures via teleconference for students enrolled in respective classes, regardless of the delivery format or system.
The College will pursue state licensing in the State of South Carolina during the third year of its 5-year strategic plan. The College will also implement two new programs; Social Work and Human Intervention, and Christian Counseling.