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Jamaica Bible College undergoes name change

BY RHOMA TOMLINSON Observer writer editorial@jamaicaobserver.com

Monday, January 21, 2013    

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MANDEVILLE, Manchester — The 67-year-old Jamaica Bible College in Mandeville has officially changed its name to Regent College of the Caribbean as it moves to shed its image as a pastors-only school to a wide-ranging liberal arts institution.

The college, which is located on Brumalia Road in Mandeville, is one of the oldest training grounds for pastors and theologians in Jamaica and second only to Northern Caribbean University (NCU) in central Jamaica, as a premier theological training centre.

But over the years it has evolved into a multi-faceted institution, offering associate degrees and qualifications in business administration, early childhood education, general studies, and counselling. The institution also has pre-college and high school programmes to which more than 200 students have subscribed. The tertiary programme currently enrols some 60 students.

The institution's academic dean, Dr Bryan Wallace, says the new name adequately "covers the programmes being offered by the college".

"...The name will also appeal to more non-theological students while maintaining its appeal to theology students. The name allows the college to identify with and affirm ownership of the region in which it is located," Dr Wallace said.

Meanwhile, president of the college Reverend Owen Gordon told the Jamaica Observer that, from its very beginning, the college had sought to spread its wings overseas.

In addition to enrolling non-Jamaican students, he said the college has been in partnership with Victory University in the United States since 2008. Under the programme, local students who have completed the associate degree can matriculate into the full-time bachelors' degree programme at Victory, once they meet the necessary requirements. Each year, Victory offers a scholarship to one Regent College student who has joined its degree programme.

Reverend Gordon says the decision to rename the school was not easy, as there were concerns that its legacy as a Christian institution could be eroded. However, he said after extensive discussions, and following the lead of Northern Caribbean University (NCU) — which has similar roots as a theological centre — the decision was made.

Explaining the inclusion of 'regent' in the name, Dr Wallace says the term has religious roots and embodies the kind of image that the institution wants to portray among its staff and students.

"The name indicates that the college has superior standing in the Caribbean, while indicating its religious roots and the purpose of its founding fathers and benefactors. The concept of Regent College accentuates the positive culture of excellence that the college promotes," he said.

In keeping with the new name, the previous academic departments have been re-organised into schools. There is now a School of Bible and Theology, a School of Business, a School of Education, and a School of Continuing Education.

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