Betty Forbes came into the Ferrum College family as part of the Parents’ Council during her son’s freshman year at the institution. Because of her knowledge and enthusiasm, then-president Dr. Jerry Boone appointed her to the Board of Trustees. Forbes is now one of Ferrum College’s biggest advocates and vocal supporters. “To us, Ferrum was the beacon of light that helped our son make it through college and become the person he is today,” she says. Forbes notes that everyone at the College cared about her son and called him by name, from the chaplain to the president to the men and women in dining services. The fact that faculty and staff can still do this today, despite a growing student body, is one of the aspects of Ferrum College that make it so special.
Forbes’ business expertise and work ethic are evident in her work with Ferrum College. Retiring from the mortgage industry in 2000 as president and CEO of the Mortgage Company of James River, Inc., Forbes went to work in the non-profit sector. She took a position with Christian Children’s Fund (CCF) as vice president of marketing and sponsorship shortly after her retirement. Initially, her job was to last for a period of one year, but once she got there she wanted to stay. Under her leadership, the revenue doubled and the visibility of the organization grew. In 2008, she decided to retire once again, but continued to serve on numerous community and church boards, using her experience and passion to further the mission of the Methodist church and expanding educational offerings for students of all ages.
Throughout her Ferrum College Board of Trustee service, including one term as chair, Forbes has seen many changes at the College. She notes times of transition and development, but says the Board of Trustees has always remained focused and dedicated to the mission and purpose of the institution. “Board members are always involved and we work well together for the good of the College,” she explains.
While she has seen tremendous growth at Ferrum College, Forbes also notes the difficulty of raising money for small colleges, particularly those in rural areas. She believes that if a student will give Ferrum College a chance, he or she will see the hands-on educational opportunities available and the possibility to dramatically change his or her future with education. When asked about supporting those students who enroll at Ferrum College, she says this: “There are so many parents who cannot afford college tuition and I believe those of us who have seen the final product that Ferrum can produce need to give back and support the College in a manner that will keep it financially stable and provide opportunities for others to share in that same experience.”
Forbes believes Ferrum College will continue to grow and remain strong for the reason the institution was initially founded: to provide a quality education to all students who are interested in learning, especially those for whom a college education may seem out of reach. Forbes knows that all levels of the College, from the Board of Trustees to the professors and staff members, play a role in providing a strong education. A job well done will continue to turn out students with a high level of expertise in their chosen field.
Forbes says the Ferrum College student is known for being a hard-working and capable individual who has learned to think independently and creatively. Students such as this provide a key service to our communities and are exactly the kind of students employers want to hire. “Ferrum offers such a good support system for students,” says Forbes. “It is important to have a college that provides an excellent education and a holistic approach to learning, while investing in the growth and future of its students.”