Wingate helps students in new economy

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Wingate is a small university that, in many ways, is thinking bigger than any other school around.

"Even with the economy, our institution is just growing almost out of control," says Dr. Jerry McGee, the force behind the progress.

He is Wingate's president, and he's spent the last couple of years doggedly defying the recession, adding students, programs, and buildings.

"We were laughing yesterday," McGee says. "We don't seem to be able to build them fast enough anymore."

The university just added a residence hall, and it'll likely need another.

"Now we have the largest student body we've ever had, but we also provide the most financial aid we've ever provided, because a mother lost a job, or a Dad's hours were cut back," McGee says.

Here's the thing - the school's not just adding bodies. I's helping them.

"They didn't choose to be 18 years old during the worst recession of their lives. It just happened that way," McGee says, talking about his students. "And so we're trying to make sure we meet their financial needs."

Take Brandy Baldwin. She's just a freshman, but the staff at Wingate already found her a job.

"I'm actually interning there right now," Baldwin says, "and it's going to turn into full time employment, over the course of the next four years."

McGee's been polling businesses.

"Our friends from the healthcare industry tell us that we can not graduate enough graduates," he says. "They will hire them all."

So Wingate expanded its curriculum, adding the new Levine College of Health Sciences. McGee says he's simply considering the new economy and molding Wingate to fit. The school hasn't even raised tuition, despite the fact that many others have.

"We've just done a much better job of fundraising," he says, smiling.