Barton College, formerly known as the Atlantic Christian College, is a liberal arts establishment for the awarding of baccalaureate and master’s degrees. Since it was founded in 1902, the college has earned an exceptional reputation for its unstinting promotion of intellectual, spiritual and social development. It also stands apart from other institutions thanks to its steadfast commitment to helping shape the community in which it resides.

In addition to a programme of undergraduate and baccalaureate courses, Barton College also offers graduate qualifications, including a Master of School Administration, Master of Elementary Education, Master of Science in Nursing, and an MBA. Between them they enrol nearly 100 local students from the city of Wilson. These are rigorous programmes that develop both expertise in their respective disciplines as well as leadership skills.

“Barton promotes a culture of face-to-face interaction,” says Dr Gary Daynes, the college’s Provost and Vice-President for Academic Affairs. “So even in a technical field such as a master’s degree in nursing, there is a significant amount of seminar-style and hands-on learning, with small groups of people sitting around tables together, working through particular problems.”



Around 80 per cent of Barton’s students come from North Carolina, and the college is based in what was once a rural part of the state that subsisted on tobacco and cotton farming. These days, however, Wilson is a fast-growing city of 50,000 that mixes agriculture with manufacturing and service businesses.

Although relatively small in terms of numbers, Barton’s co-educational campus is spread over 65 acres, has five residence halls and houses around 1,000 students. With its well-appointed Hackney Library, and high-grade theatre, gym and leisure centre, it is as well-equipped as many larger establishments.

The success of the Barton Bulldogs varsity athletics club is also a great source of local pride. “All of our undergraduate students take a core of courses in the liberal arts,” says Dr Daynes. “We also aim to ensure that our graduate students have the opportunity of a liberal arts experience.”

The college’s graduate programmes are characterised by a commitment to developing students’ ability to lead in an ethical fashion. “I received an email this morning from a new student,” says Dr Daynes. “She was drawn to join our master’s programme after working with some of our graduates, and said she had observed in them a combination of deep humanity, a sense of leadership and the ability to be an outstanding bedside nurse – in addition to their technical expertise.”

In return for Barton’s active promotion of the interests of Wilson and its surrounding region, the city gives the college a high level of support. “It’s been a wonderful partner in our undergraduate- and graduate-level work,” says Dr Daynes. “Faculty members serve on the boards of charitable organisations in the community, and together we have founded a think tank that partners business students and local economic development professionals.” The local school district has also provided assistance in designing the curriculum for the Master of Education programme.

The life and culture at Barton have helped to propagate a special kinship among its alumni. Since many of the college’s graduates continue to live in the area after completing their studies, these can be an important factor in creating vital lifelong social and professional networks.

“Barton College is committed to education that helps students think critically, communicate effectively and become leaders in the workplace, as well as in the community,” says Dr Daynes. “We are thrilled to be grounded in the place where we are. We feel privileged to see the effect our work has on the well-being of our students, on their families and on the community.”