Stories From Selma
 

Dr. James Lyons

 
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When Dr. Lyons arrived at Concordia College Alabama last May, he thought he would be transitioning the school from potential closure to new possibilities. Dr. Lyons has worked in higher education for 50 years. He's been president of five different institutions. He was in his third retirement when he got the call to come to CCA. Needless to say, this was an opportunity he did not think would end in closure. 

The challenges, however, were clear right away. With a student body already struggling to pay the second lowest tuition in the state of Alabama, raising tuition was out of the question. And perhaps most difficult, Dr. Lyons says a "closure cloud" had already descended on the campus and on donors.

"Once you start talking about closure, and there are discussions about closure and you actually have meetings to warn people…that closure cloud has hurt the institution over the past couple of years," he says.

Q. Why doesn't Concordia College Alabama just raise tuition? 

There needs to be a place like Concordia College Alabama. There has to be an option for students who don’t have the financial resources but have the academic ability to go to school.
— Dr. James Lyons, Interim Transition Officer
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The looming discussion over closure hurts everyone, including the students. No one wants to start attending a college that might be in jeopardy of not lasting four years. And yet at the same time, Dr. Lyons commends the faculty and staff for continuing to work hard in the past few years to do the job put in front of them with excellence. 

"We had a major transfer fair for students a couple of weeks ago and we had over 40 schools come to our campus to recruit our students," says Lyons. so we had students that walked into the gym discouraged, “I really don’t want to be here but my advisor said I gotta go and show evidence that I attended.” And yet 2 hrs later that student walks out with a folder

Q.) What's next for Concordia College Alabama students? 

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To have to stand in front of the faculty and staff and students and have to say we’re closing at the end of this semester...it’s the most painful thing I’ve experienced in my 50 years of education.
 
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Q.) HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR TIME AT CONCORDIA?