WEST FRANKFORT, IL (KFVS) - West Frankfort is now a college town. This week, the Illinois Board of Higher Education gave the newly formed Morthland College the authority to grant four-year degrees in two disciplines: Biblical Studies and Classics.
Kayla Pierce is one of between 10 to 20 students in the first-ever class Morthland College. She was the valedictorian of Agape Christian High School and says chose Morthland because it is exactly what she's looking for in a college: an affordable Christian based education close to home.
"I'm very thankful for Morthland," said Pierce. "It came at just the right time as I'm entering college. It's an answer to my prayers."
But Morthland's namesake and college President Dr. Tim Morthland knows a brand new college may be a tough sell for some students.
"This whole project is an act of faith," said Morthland. "The idea of a new college is very other in terms of paradigms. Look at McKendree established in 1828 and SIU 1869. Colleges like this haven't been birthed in over 100 years. So to talk to a family about a new college is a tall task."
Morthland says in time - the quality of a Morthland education and a physical campus will do the talking. But just as Rome wasn't built in a day - Morthland's campus and student body won't either.
"Colleges start small - very small. Harvard began with 11," said Morthland. "Our emphasis is on quality faculty, quality instructors, and quality curriculum, and in time the bricks and mortar will come."
Morthland plans to follow a similar model as some Ivy League schools - stressing classical education in addition to its religious mission.
A year of tuition currently runs about $8,000.
Classes begin August 15, 2011.