Letter from President Pinson Regarding Commencement

Dear Members of the Welch Community,

These have been challenging times for all of us as we have coped with a global pandemic that had farther-reaching consequences than I ever imagined it would have. Our community has been resilient, however, and has navigated these troubled waters with prudence and with grace.

I was so saddened to have to announce to the Class of 2020 last year that we would have to cancel their normal 2020 Commencement activities. After meeting with the executive council of the Senior Class, we decided that the best way forward was to have Commencement exercises for the Class of 2020 at the same time as that of the Class of 2021.

While there are still many details to be finalized, and while anything could change given the current unpredictable situation with COVID-19, I wanted to announce the date of the Commencement exercises for both the Class of 2020 and the Class of 2021 so that students and their guests could mark it on their calendars and make travel plans.

All Commencement activities for both classes will take place on Friday, May 7th. The times, locations, and details of the gatherings will be forthcoming. Guest seating will be limited owing to COVID-19 and the need for physically distanced seating. Thus a limited number of free tickets will be provided to each graduate for his or her family and friends.

Neither the graduate breakfast nor a Baccalaureate service will be held. An awards ceremony for the Class of 2021 will be held virtually, similar to what we held last year for the Class of 2020. Also forthcoming will be details regarding hooding for master’s degree recipients.

More details will follow as we finalize them. Thank you for your patience as we work through what will be a very different celebration in the midst of a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. And continue to pray for us here at Welch as we continue to make key decisions and fulfill our mission in these difficult times.

The Lord bless you and keep you.


Matt Pinson

President Pinson Completes Conference Call with Vice President Pence

Dear Welch Campus Family:

I just completed a conference call with Vice President Mike Pence; Dr. Deborah Birx, the Coronavirus Response Coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force; and many other college and university presidents. Others who took part in the discussion included Dr. Scott Atlas, President Trump’s new Coronavirus advisor; Dr. Robert Redfield, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); Governor Doug Burgum of North Dakota; and Dr. John Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame.

I am happy to tell you that, according to the recommendations these leaders reinforced on the call, we are doing very well on the Welch College campus, not only in the rate of people who have tested positively for the Coronavirus or are in quarantine, but also in following the best practices recommended by the White House and the CDC. This is because of the efforts you are making to follow Welch’s guidelines, and I cannot thank you enough!

One of the things they emphasized on the call, which they said many had not previously understood, is this: In addition to physical distancing and the wearing of face coverings, it is vital that as many as possible students be kept on campus whether they have symptoms or not, and it is important that colleges and universities do everything in their power to keep students as close to campus as possible. 

Having travel policies and other policies that make this a reality will keep down the incidence of the disease on campus, because students will not bring the disease back to campus from across the United States. However, such policies will also keep COVID-19 from going back into households and communities, thus mitigating the spread of the disease. Vice President Pence and Dr. Birx reiterated this over and over again.

They stressed the avoidance of what they called “crowding.” Avoiding crowding, maintaining a physical distance of six feet, and wearing a face covering are imperative. Also, they highly recommended that we encourage everyone to get a flu vaccine. 

The incidence of the Coronavirus among adults under 25 is on the rise. Even though the health risks are lesser for this population, the risk of this age group’s infecting people in the cross-generational population who are at greater risk is growing, they said. Dr. Birx reiterated repeatedly how important it is to understand that many young people who have no symptoms still have the disease and are passing it on to others.

So I want to congratulate you for doing the very best you can to continue to maintain six-foot physical distancing, to wear your face coverings, even when you are in the dorms and in other people’s rooms, to stay in the Gallatin area, and to fill out the form on the Ascend app each morning.

I also want to thank the Mr. Mahler, Coach Fawbush, and Dr. McAffee, as well as the members of the Special Committee on the Coronavirus, for having already put into effect a plan that precisely mirrors what we were advised on today’s conference call.

Thank you for all you are doing, Welch family! If we can keep this up, we feel confident we can make it to Thanksgiving!

The Lord bless you and keep you.


Matt Pinson

Welch College Announces Augmented Athletic Schedule

Welch College has announced an adjustment to the athletic department for 2020-2021, according to Greg Fawbush, Welch Athletic Director. “College athletics has been deeply affected by COVID-19,” Fawbush said, “and Welch is having to make changes to accommodate the global pandemic.”

Among the changes Fawbush outlined, women’s volleyball will play a hybrid season, eleven games in the fall starting September 28 and ending November 7, followed by ten more games during March and April of 2021, for a total of twenty-one matches over the course of the year. Men’s and women’s soccer will play in the spring of 2021 for this season only. Cross country’s schedule will remain in the fall. Fawbush stated that he expects men’s and women’s basketball teams to play their games starting in November and ending in late February.

Fawbush said, “Several factors contributed to these difficult decisions, including the recent rise in positive COVID-19 cases through the south’s geographical footprint, the safety of student-athletes, and the inability to maintain a full schedule due to cancellations.” He went on to add, “By carefully realigning when our teams play, we can better realize our overall goal of keeping our athletes healthy while also still participating in athletic competition.”

For more information on athletics at Welch, email Coach Fawbush at gfawbush@welch.edu.

Letter to Class of 2020 about Cancelling Commencement

Dear Member of the Welch College Class of 2020:

It is with a heavy heart that I write and tell you that we are forced to cancel our planned Commencement ceremony for the class of 2020. Earlier this year, before the second wave of COVID-19 that swept the country, we had every expectation that we could provide a safe, physically distanced Commencement ceremony for you and your family. However, with recent developments, it has become impossible for us to go through with those plans.

Our reasons for cancelling the ceremony include, but aren’t limited to, the fact that the Governor of the State of Tennessee has issued an order that keeps us from having indoor gatherings on campus of more than 50 people. This means that we couldn’t even accommodate the Class of 2020 and the administration of the college in the ceremony. Thus none of your family could attend, which defeats the entire purpose of having a special ceremony. We deemed it far too risky to host an outdoor ceremony, only for you and your guests to travel here and it rain that day, with no ability to move the ceremony indoors. Furthermore, many of the states from which our graduates would have been traveling have orders that require lengthy quarantining after returning from Tennessee.

Many other considerations went into the difficult decision to cancel this special ceremony we had hoped and planned to have for you. I want you to know how deeply we regret that we could not follow through with our plans.  You mean so much to us, and we celebrate with you upon the occasion of your graduation from Welch College. We will be shipping your diploma and (where applicable) your cap and gown.

We look forward to great things from you as you serve Christ, His church, and His world. We hope you will keep in touch with us and come back to visit your alma mater very soon.


J. Matthew Pinson

Coffman Hall on Welch College Campus - a Christian Bible College in Gallatin, Tennessee

Welch Announces Special Fall Commencement

Welch College has scheduled a special Commencement ceremony to be held during the Fall 2020 semester on Saturday, September 19, according to Provost Matthew McAffee. Owing to the Coronavirus pandemic, the college was unable to hold its May Commencement exercises for the 2019–20 academic year. A virtual awards ceremony was held directly following the spring semester to honor 2020 graduates publicly, as well as outstanding continuing students.

The focus of this special commencement ceremony will be the conferral of degrees. “Our 2019–20 graduates have worked hard against unprecedented odds to complete the requirements for their degrees,” McAffee said. “We look forward to being able to award these degrees to a special group of graduates in the history of Welch College.”

In addition to conferring degrees, the special ceremony will also include the hooding of graduates receiving one of Welch’s two master’s degrees (Master of Arts in Theology and Ministry and Master of Arts in Teaching). The first group of Master of Arts in Teaching recipients will have completed their program in time to participate in the special ceremony. The graduate hooding ceremony is usually held as a separate event but will be combined with the main ceremony for the convenience of graduates and guests traveling longer distances to attend.

The Saturday Commencement ceremony will also coincide with the spring 2020 musical, which was canceled because of COVID-19 concerns. Three showings are tentatively scheduled: Friday evening (September 18), Saturday evening (September 19), and Sunday matinee (September 20).

More details regarding the logistics of these events are forthcoming. In light of the Coronavirus pandemic, college officials are continuing to monitor federal and state recommendations for public gatherings and will make adjustments to these plans as necessary.

For more information, visit Welch.edu or email COVID-19@welch.edu.

Come see for Yourself what Welch College may be a great fit for you! Welch College is a private, Christian college located in Gallatin, Tennessee

Welch College Announces Altered Fall 2020 Schedule

Welch College plans to alter the Fall 2020 schedule in light of COVID-19 concerns, according to Provost Matthew McAffee. Fall face-to-face classes will begin on campus Monday, August 24, one day earlier than originally scheduled. The Monday before classes begin is usually set aside to register returning students who did not pre-register during the spring 2020 semester. Returning students will still be able to register or make adjustments to their course schedules during drop-add week (August 24-31). All class meetings will be completed before students leave for Thanksgiving break, which begins November 25. Students will not return to campus after Thanksgiving break. Final examinations will be administered remotely December 1-4. Fall break, originally scheduled for October 23-26, will also be cancelled.

“Welch College is taking proactive measures to ensure the safety of our students should there be a spike in COVID-19 cases in late fall,” McAffee said. “Finishing our class meetings before students leave for Thanksgiving break will eliminate the possibility of an outbreak occurring on campus following Thanksgiving travel.” President Matt Pinson said, “The safety of our students is a high priority for us at Welch College. So we’re making every effort to provide the highest quality of education to our on-campus students, while taking every precaution to ensure their safety and security.”

Should you have additional questions related to the fall schedule, please contact the Academic Office (provost@welch.edu).

Coffman Hall on Welch College Campus - a Christian Bible College in Gallatin, Tennessee

Welch Receives Coronavirus Relief from Free Will Baptist Foundation

Welch College recently received an emergency relief grant of $400,000 from the Free Will Baptist Foundation to cover impairment from COVID-19, according to Welch president Matt Pinson.

“We are so thankful to the Free Will Baptist Foundation and its Board of Directors for this generous grant,” Pinson said. This will help us close the enormous gap between income and expenses caused by the Coronavirus.”

Economists predict that higher education will be one of the economic sectors hardest-hit by the Coronavirus pandemic. This is especially true of colleges and universities that rely on in-residence dorm students for the bulk of their revenue.

“The entire fiscal year for most private, residential colleges is based on how many students come at one point in the year—the fall semester,” Craig Mahler, vice president for financial affairs said. “Higher education experts are bracing for an extremely difficult year. In addition to enrollment, industry projections are that gifts will be down drastically owing to job losses, the impairment of donors’ investment portfolios, etc. Add to that all the money we’ve lost by sending students home for half the spring semester, and you have the perfect storm.”

College officials predict that the $400,000 grant from the Free Will Baptist Foundation, as well as a Small Business Administration loan of over $700,000 and CARES act grants of over $300,000 will help make up a fraction of the shortfall. But most of it will have to be done by budget cuts and additional appeals for funds from alumni, friends of the college, and denominational supporters.

“Our greatest challenge is going to be students not being able to enroll because of parents’ job losses and other economic harm that has come to their families,” Pinson said. “With the huge unemployment rate, we’re already hearing this. Some of our friends and supporters aren’t going to be able to give for the same reasons. But we’re praying that those who still can give will support these students who won’t be able to attend Welch without that extra support.”

For more information, or to give to support needy students, please visit welch.edu/give/ and click on Coronavirus Student Relief Fund.

Welch College Rolls Back Tuition, Initiates Scholarships for Local Students

Welch College announced recently that, in response to the Coronavirus crisis, it would be rolling back tuition to its 2019–20 level and initiating a program of scholarships for students in Sumner County and surrounding areas, according to Welch president Matt Pinson.

“Several surveys in the past few weeks have shown that a large percentage of parents of high school seniors are probably going to keep their kids closer to home for lower-cost college options this year because of the Coronavirus,” Pinson said.

“Even seniors themselves, in high numbers in these surveys, fear they might not be able to go off to college this fall. Researchers are citing the general anxiety and uncertainty regarding COVID-19, as well as parents’ worries about affordability in the wake of the recessionary economy caused by the virus. In response, we’ve decided to return tuition this year to its 2019–20 rate. And, with the new scholarships earmarked for local families, together with the Tennessee Hope and Promise scholarships Welch accepts, students can get a private Christian higher education at Welch for a price that is competitive with the four-year state universities here in Tennessee.”

Welch College moved to Gallatin in 2017 after selling its property in midtown Nashville near Vanderbilt and building an entirely new campus across from Station Camp High School.

Dr. Charles Lea, Special Assistant to the President at Welch, knows the Sumner County higher education scene well, having served for many years as Academic Vice President at Volunteer State Community College and as founding director of the Hendersonville campus of Union University. “A lot of Sumner Countians still don’t know much about Welch,” Lea said. “They drive by and admire the beautiful new campus, but they don’t realize what a jewel we’ve got here in Gallatin: It’s the only accredited, four-year residential college in Sumner County, with so many programs in which to get a degree.”

“Welch is ranked 16th among Southern Regional Colleges in U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges. During these uncertain times, a student can begin college at Welch, complete needed general education, and transfer to the college or university of his or her choice,” Lea continued.

The college’s plan is to offer special scholarships to students in Sumner, Wilson, Trousdale, and Robertson Counties, Simpson County in Kentucky, and the northeast region of Davidson County, including Goodlettsville, Madison, Old Hickory, Hermitage, and Donelson.

“We’re really putting on a push to reach out to students in these areas, some of whose parents have had a cut in pay or a job loss, many of whom are just uncertain about moving away for college this fall and are looking for lower-cost options closer to home,” said Daniel Webster, Director of Enrollment Services at Welch. “Most people don’t realize that our tuition is in the bottom quartile of private colleges in the state. When they think of ‘private’ college, they automatically think ‘pricey.’ But with this COVID-19 scholarship, we can get local families down to a price that’s competitive with what they’re going to pay at four-year state colleges.”

“There’s amazing added value to attending a small Christian college like Welch,” Webster added. “It’s a close-knit campus community, which ensures students get extra personal and spiritual mentoring. And the academic mentoring that goes on when you have a low student-faculty ratio—only 9 students for every faculty member—helps students succeed better in their profession or in graduate school. It’s one of the reasons we’ve recently gotten our graduates into graduate schools like Vanderbilt and MTSU here at home, and places like Florida State and Duke and Cambridge elsewhere.”

A high percentage of Welch graduates enter graduate and professional school, Webster added. “But what sets Welch apart for most students and parents is that we undergird the Christian values and beliefs their parents taught them. We don’t dismantle in four years the values that parents spent the first eighteen years trying to instill.”

“The college has majors in myriad fields of study,” Lea said. “Just one of those, for example, is Nursing, a profession that is in high demand. Welch has a program in which pre-nursing students who maintain a 3.0 GPA are guaranteed admission into a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) at either Union here in Sumner County, or at Cumberland or Belmont. A guarantee to get into nursing school is hard to come by.”

In a letter last week to parents and students, Pinson indicated that Welch plans to open its doors to on-campus students this fall and will observe the most rigorous best practices in safety, sanitation, and social distancing.

For more information on Welch, its degree offerings, or its scholarships, email recruit@welch.edu.

An Urgent Letter from Welch College President Matt Pinson

Dear Friend of Welch College,

With the Coronavirus pandemic, we are in a situation that is unparalleled in our nation’s history. Never before have we experienced shelter at home orders and the mass closure of many businesses, schools, and social gatherings. The revenue lost to our economy is in the trillions because of lay-offs, closures, and job losses.  No one is sure how long it will take for us to recover.

Welch College, like most colleges and universities across the country, was forced to send students home to complete the semester online. Our students have been resilient and have praised our faculty and staff for their continued investment in them. Yet they’re eager to return to campus and engage in a traditional classroom learning environment.

We are looking forward to starting classes on campus in the fall. However, many students who want to be here fear they will not be able to attend. In fact, higher education analysts are predicting a significant decline in enrollment this year. Much of that decline will result from the lack of funds because of job losses in their families. Furthermore, the majority of our students depend on summer jobs to save money for their education, and those have not been available.

That’s why I’m writing this letter: to appeal to you to help these young people who want a Christ-centered education but cannot afford it because of this pandemic. We need your help for the many students who want to join us this fall but won’t be able to without it.

I don’t know how the pandemic has affected you financially. You may say, “Matt, I’m one of the ones out of work. I’d love to help, but I just can’t.” To you I say, “I understand.” Will you join me in daily prayer that God will move on the hearts of those who can help?

But you may be one whose job and income was not hurt by the crisis. I appeal to you to make a special gift that will directly impact students. We don’t want a single individual who hopes to be at Welch to be kept away because of the lack of funds. Your generosity will make the difference for them.

In my tenure as president, I have typically refrained from “crisis appeal” letters. Yet if there has ever been a crisis as it relates to our young people’s ability to be in school this fall, this is it. Will you respond? Students will begin making final decisions soon, and I want to be able to tell them that Welch’s supporters believe in them.

If you want to help, you can give at welch.edu/give or send a check to us at 1045 Bison Trail, Gallatin, TN 37066. Will you let us hear from you? The future of a student from your area may depend on it.

In Christ,

Matt Pinson

Welch College Campus - a Christian Bible College in Gallatin, Tennessee

Welch Announces Changes to Summer Activities for 2020

After the cancellation of multiple summer events owing to the potential spread of COVID-19, Welch College has cancelled all on-campus youth events and suspended the travel of Welch student representatives, according to David Williford, Vice President for Institutional Advancement.

“It was not an easy decision to cancel the tours of the Rejoice! and Evangels ministry teams and not send out camp reps,” Williford said. “Yet, based on the information we have at this time, we think this is best for our campus community and for those youth and youth sponsors who would be traveling to and from our campus.”

Daniel Webster, Director of Enrollment, works closely with these visiting groups and trains Welch student reps for conferences and camps. “We’re sad about these cancellations. Hosting youth events like Welch Summer Camp and E-TEAM Missions is the highlight of my department’s summer,” Webster said, “With the cancellation of the Truth & Peace Youth Leadership Conference and several summer camps, we realize now that many cancellations are occurring. We informed our student reps that cancellations were coming so that they could look for summer work.”

Relatedly, the college hosts other events and two external groups who utilize college facilities each summer. After conferring with both the Cumberland Valley School of Gospel Music and the Steve Hurst School of Music, it was determined the COVID-19 pandemic made it necessary to cancel those events for this summer.

Craig Mahler, Vice President for Financial Affairs, said, “Though the impact of this global pandemic creates many challenges, the priority of both the college and our denominational and other Christian ministry partners is to maintain an environment that allows for the well-being of our college family and summer guests. We look forward to our guests’ return in the summer of 2021.”

The college continues with preparations to welcome students to the campus for residential learning in late August. Campus leaders are planning a release of detailed plans that allow for a safe return to the campus by the week of August 16.

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For the latest information about coronavirus, visit welch.edu/coronavirus