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December - January 2023

Lighting the Darkness


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Welch College in Gallatin, Tennessee, has been the official college of the Free Will Baptist Denomination since 1942. To find out more information about the school, visit

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Enrollment Increases Post-COVID

Welch College enrolled 388 students for the 2022 Fall semester, according to Dr. Matthew McAffee, provost. This number marks the first increase in enrollment since the start of the COVID pandemic, up 15% from a total enrollment of 336 in the fall of 2021.

“It has been tough navigating the challenges resulting from the pandemic over the last two years,” McAffee said, “so we are thankful for this increase. We believe these numbers signal the beginning of our rebound from the last two years of lower enrollment.”

Full-time enrollment also improved from pandemic years. Whereas COVID most drastically affected traditional dormitory enrollment, this semester saw continued improvement in this area. Graduate studies, adult and online studies, and dual enrollment also showed gains.

At press time, the college reported 151 dormitory students, 61 commuter students, 36 graduate students, 17 adult studies students, 43 online students, and 80 dual enrollment students. Full-time equivalency (FTE) was 274 students, up from 240 last fall. Total enrollment statistics indicate students from 22 states, one U.S. territory, and six foreign countries.

“Many small, church-related colleges were hit very hard during the pandemic, with some having to close their doors,” President Matt Pinson said. “We’re thankful that, despite these difficulties, the Lord has sustained Welch College and has set us on a course of recovery.”

“We’re also thankful for our new and returning students,” Pinson continued. “They bring a renewed sense of vibrancy and excitement to the campus as we turn our focus to the prospects for future growth and opportunity as an institution. We still have our work cut out for us in this post-COVID recovery period, with enrollment and donations to the college still far below pre-COVID norms. But things are looking up. We are thankful to the Lord for His blessings.”

For more information about Welch College, email or visit the college website:


Welch College Ranked 17th by U.S. News & World Report

Welch College recently ranked 17th among “Best Regional Colleges—South” in the 2023 edition of U.S. News and World Report’s Best Colleges, according to President Matt Pinson. The Regional Colleges—South category comprises 105 other colleges and universities in the South.

“We’re so glad to have Welch’s academic quality recognized by U.S. News,” President Pinson said. “This is another reminder to students and parents that Welch College is a top-quality institution of higher learning that delivers its educational promise.”

The “Best Regional Colleges—South” category where Welch College is ranked includes institutions that focus on undergraduate education and offer a range of degree programs in the liberal arts and in professional fields such as business, nursing, and education.


Most of these institutions award fewer than fifty graduate degrees annually. This year, 13 colleges and universities were added to this category, moving from last year’s total of 93 to 106 total schools.

“Colleges go up and down in these rankings each year,” Pinson said. “When we first entered the rankings 12 years ago, we were ranked 52nd. Then four years ago we got up to 26th, after which we’ve consistently been in the top 20. Our ranking at 17th is exciting.”

“To be ranked in the top 16% of all colleges and universities in our category is remarkable,” Provost Matthew McAffee said. “Our faculty and staff strive diligently to give our students an excellent Christian educational experience, and this ranking is a testament to their determination and hard work.”

U.S. News rankings judge the relative quality of institutions based on widely accepted indicators of excellence in higher education: what peer institutions think of the institution, how many freshmen return their sophomore year, how many go on to graduate, student-faculty ratio, faculty quality, financial resources, alumni giving, and more.

“To put our ranking in perspective,” Pinson said, “the ten institutions ranked directly above and below us have an average enrollment three times higher than Welch’s and an average endowment eight times higher than Welch’s. We are good stewards of the resources God has given us.”
Welch received especially high marks in a number of strategic areas, ranking as follows:

  • 1st in student-faculty ratio (tied)

  • 3rd in graduation rate

  • 3rd in classes under 20 students

  • 6th in ACT/SAT scores

  • 7th in alumni giving

For more information about Welch, email or visit


©2022 ONE Magazine, National Association of Free Will Baptists