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Dr. John Mann, interim president of Jacksonville College, seeks to accomplish the current mission statement, “to provide Christ-centered teaching and training that prepares students to lead meaningful lives that transform the world,” through a new strategy. Mann, who formerly served as executive vice president, took on the new position Oct. 31, 2022, following the resignation of Joe Lightner.

Mann’s vision is threefold: to revive campus life and culture, to renew relationships with the community and to recruit new students.

As part of the recruitment efforts, the school recently hosted a homeschooler preview day, a unique experience for the school.

“The college is historically a bible college,” Mann said, emphasizing the college would like to deepen their biblical studies. “A lot of that is going to have to do with our local homeschool families as well as a lot of our churches.”

Another aspect of recruitment is one that will be dependent upon Mann’s desire to rebuild community relationships, as he hopes to partner with local businesses. His message is one of Jacksonville today, Jacksonville tomorrow.

“We want them to invest in Jacksonville College today so that Jacksonville College can return that investment to the community tomorrow,” he said. “I’d like for us to be able to partner with our local businesses where we’re helping to recruit employees for them and they’re helping recruit students for us.”

He not only wants to bring in students just graduating high school, but seeks to aid those already employed within the community.

“We want to be able to provide some business training for those businesses so they can send students here, so they can get some accounting education; they’ll get management education, finance,” Mann said. “We have those in place, but we want to expand business education.”

That expansion will include looking at new ways of offering classes, including the possibility of meeting at non-traditional times and in some non-traditional ways.

“We’ll try to create some mentoring or some job shadowing opportunities where they can do the theoretical, the educational, here on campus but they can also do do the practical with some of our local businesses,” Mann said.

Despite the new methods and efforts, Mann said the college will continue with the traditional recruitment efforts including athletic recruiting. The college offers both men’s and women’s teams, all of which compete in the National Junior College Athletic Association. The current sport offerings include basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, tennis, as well as track and field.

Enrollment is currently about 160 on campus, with 300 to 350 online and commuter students, but Mann expects to see an increase.

“We've seen a little bit of increase, but I think primarily the reason that we will see an increase in our student population is through our new recruiting efforts,” he said.

Looking forward to growing the student population, Mann anticipates a need for additional dorm space.

“We have our current dorms and we want to remodel those, but we also want to be able to construct new dorms,” he said.

With expected growth, Mann is also determined to revive the spirit of campus life, one he hopes will be centered around Buckner Chapel and include the community.

“We’d love to be able to host some community related events here on our campus and in the Buckner Chapel specifically,” he said. “We’d love to be able to revive that a little bit so that we can offer that as a community gathering place for various opportunities.”

Additionally, Mann desires to promote an attitude of service, noting that he was in talks with various non-profit organizations that serve the community, seeking opportunities for student involvement.

“Community service is really what we’re trying to accomplish,” he said.

“We’re here to support the community. We feel a burden to be involved in the community. We’ve been here since 1899. We’ll [soon] be celebrating 125 years,” Mann said. “I can to some degree, at times, be surprised when I’ll talk with people in the community who are unaware that Jacksonville College is here. What I want to emphasize is that we, as a college, want to partner with the community for their betterment as well as ours.”

For more information about Jacksonville College, visit jacksonvilecollege.edu.

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