Academically excellent. Unwaveringly Christian. Imminently affordable.
Those are all phrases that describe the outstanding, Christ-centered education provided by Williams Baptist University (WBU). And that last phrase, “imminently affordable,” becomes especially true with a new initiative called Williams Works.
To say the least, WBU is excited about the advent of Williams Works. It is a truly innovative new program that will add a lot to the educational process in its own right. But make no mistake about it, the goal of Williams Works is to give more students access to a transformative educational experience at WBU.
Williams Works is our response to the rising cost of higher education that is impacting so many families. Since WBU President Stan Norman announced this exciting initiative in September the response has been tremendous from both prospective students and the general public.
Here is how it works: Students agree to work 16 hours a week, every week, through the fall and spring semesters. These are real jobs with real responsibilities. Without question, the students in Williams Works will need a great work ethic and time management skills.
But for those who are willing to invest the time and work, the payoff is huge. The cost of education, which is their tuition and fees, is fully covered. On top of that, those who work through the summer months will have their room and board paid. That means it is now possible to complete an outstanding university education debt-free.
Students will work in a variety of jobs. WBU is launching an agricultural endeavor called Eagle Farms, which utilizes undeveloped acres on the west end of the Williams campus. Student-workers will raise, harvest and market the farm products.
Community partners – local industries and businesses – will also put WBU students to work. On-campus jobs will also be filled by students.
Williams Works officially begins next fall, when we welcome 40 incoming freshmen into the initiative. The number grows to 80 students by the following year and 120 the year after that, with more rapid expansion expected in the years beyond.
Williams Works is a bold initiative, unlike anything else in Arkansas or the Southern Baptist Convention. It provides students the kind of work experience future employers will savor.
But above all, Williams Works makes an academically excellent, unwaveringly Christian education attainable for more students. And that transformative education will send WBU graduates out as light into a dark world that desperately needs them.
Brett Cooper is vice president for creative services and technology at Williams Baptist College.
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