A Milepost for the Ferrum Family

Original editorial by JENNIFER L. BRAATEN | Braaten is president of Ferrum College.
Saturday, October 5, 2013

As we mark our centennial year, it is with deep appreciation that we acknowledge the exceptional support for Ferrum College from our community and the entire region. Ferrum was founded in 1913 as a training school by members of the Methodist Church to bring literacy to underserved children in the Blue Ridge Mountain region.

From that humble beginning, Ferrum evolved over the years to become a junior college and eventually a baccalaureate degree-granting institution.

We are privileged as we commemorate a century of excellence to also honor our enduring relationship with The United Methodist Church.

With our motto of “Not Self, But Others,” Ferrum’s student population is in keeping with the spirit of our historic mission. Students who are first in their families to attend college account for more than 30 percent of our student body. Sixty percent receive Pell grants. Our diversity rate is notable when compared to our private college peers. We currently serve 1,500 students in an undergraduate educational environment, with more than 90 percent of students residing on our beautiful campus.

Student success is a hallmark of a Ferrum College education. We recently dedicated new labs and classrooms in Garber Hall and announced the gift of the 175-acre DeHart Botanical Gardens in Patrick County to be used as the college’s “outdoor living laboratory.” Our academic partnerships include articulation agreements with numerous community colleges throughout Virginia to help qualified community college students gain entry to Ferrum to complete their higher education goals. Our collaboration with the Appalachian College of Law allows preferential admission to qualified Ferrum graduates who wish to pursue a law degree.

The Ravenscroft Education Studio at the offices of the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra in downtown Roanoke is sponsored by Ferrum College.

Our biomass energy and research complex will soon be operational and will provide the only on-campus biomass research facility in the state. Ferrum faculty members are dedicated to quality in the classroom as well as outstanding experiential learning opportunities. Our staff and administration provide students with a multitude of enriching co-curricular and extra-curricular activities.

Ferrum College’s commitment to the community is demonstrated in our partnerships with the Homestead Creamery in Burnt Chimney, Riverstone Farm in Floyd, the Free Clinic of Franklin County, the Ferrum branch of the Franklin County YMCA and the Tri-Area Community Health Center.

The YMCA and the Community Health Center are both located on our campus. Ferrum is the first college to partner with Floydfest, the internationally acclaimed summer music festival in adjacent Floyd County. The college’s FloydfestPLUS! “Lodge and Learn” initiative and sponsorship of the “Pickin’ Porch” at the festival celebrates the rich musical heritage of this region and complements the educational programs at our Blue Ridge Institute & Museum. The college recently purchased a nearby former convenience store on Virginia 40 that will be refurbished and renamed the Ferrum Mercantile. The “new” business will include a Papa John’s Pizza franchise, a deli, a seasonal farmers’ market, and Blue Ridge arts and crafts. A small performance stage for local talent is also planned, which will harmonize with Ferrum’s location on Virginia’s Crooked Road Music Trail. The Ferrum Mercantile will join with existing local businesses in providing a wide array of amenities to our students, visitors and area residents.

It is with the support of loyal friends and alumni throughout our region that Ferrum College not only maintains its steady growth but flourishes. To paraphrase our centennial campaign literature: “We are inspired by the faith and tenacity of our founders, and the trust that has been placed in us over the past 100 years. We are privileged as a guiding force in higher education in Virginia to envision a bright and enduring future.”

We are honored that so many individuals, families and businesses in our community are proud to be members of our Ferrum Family. On behalf of our faculty, staff, students and alumni, we give thanks and look forward with optimism and abiding faith to our next 100 years.