On February 3, 2022, more than 1,300 people celebrated the grand opening of a new cutting-edge campus for Highlands College, a Birmingham-based institution founded in 2011 that each year sends hundreds of graduates into full-time Christian ministry around the world.
Students, faculty, staff, alumni and supporters heard remarks from Chancellor Chris Hodges and President Mark Pettus, commemorating the College’s growth and global impact. The new campus, featuring learning studios and training labs instead of traditional classrooms and auditoriums, highlights the institution’s immersive approach to biblical education fashioned after America’s military academies. Students pursue a rigorous four-pillar program of academic instruction, hands-on ministry training, character formation, and spiritual development that advances their spirit, soul, and body. “The greatest investment we can ever make is pouring into young leaders who in turn will impact thousands of people for the rest of their lives,” said Hodges. “Students learn and grow in world-class facilities where they are educated, equipped and empowered to make an eternal impact in a complex and changing world.”
The new state-of-the-art campus was carefully designed to facilitate this innovative model of higher education. Its 14 learning studios are equipped with the latest in audio-visual technology to support a cutting-edge approach to classroom instruction. The new facility also contains eight ministry training labs, each uniquely designed to train students for distinct areas of ministry concentration such as worship leadership, student ministry, and creative arts. These educational spaces are joined by multiple collaborative areas, a multi-purpose auditorium, screen-free food hall, coffee shop, media center, and campus green to create a vibrant campus community.
The campus is located along one of Birmingham’s busiest thoroughfares in the former headquarters of HealthSouth Corporation, now Encompass Health. Church of the Highlands first acquired a portion of the property in 2016 as a new church campus and expanded to include central office space and the future home of Highlands College. The $50 million renovation to convert the former office building into an institution of higher learning began in 2020. The renovation was designed by Birmingham-based TurnerBatson Architects and built by JohnsonKreis Construction.
“Leadership is influence underpinned with the character to overcome. It is taught through experience and galvanized in challenge. That is the environment we’ve built on this campus,” said Pettus. “We believe that this is just the beginning of Highlands College’s transformative impact on biblical education and communities around the world.”
Highlands College alumni that returned to open the campus were in awe of the variety of resources available to current students through the new facilities. “Our season at Highlands College impacted us deeply, and we cannot begin to fathom how much more current and future students will grow on this life-changing campus,” shared Josh and Courtney Gardner, 2017 and 2018 graduates of the college, respectively. “We are thankful to get to invest in Highlands College and call this God-inspired institution our alma mater.”
The college’s first residence hall, made possible by a $20 million gift from Hobby Lobby’s David Green family, is currently under construction on the 70-acre campus and is scheduled to open early next year. Highlands is a private two-year institution that is scheduled to pursue a four-year program within a few years. Its strategic plan calls for growth to 1,000 students by 2029, with a vision for all students to graduate debt-free. To learn more about Highlands College, click here. †