DAYTON, Tenn. - Bryan College's annual student community service day, traditionally held on Martin Luther King Day, is changing its focus and its name and moving to April, school officials said.
"We wanted to observe MLK Day in other ways," said Ben Norquist, the school's director of faith and mission.
College President Stephen D. Livesay initiated the day in 2005, and for the last seven years students volunteered in the surrounding community to help with projects at elderly residents' homes and at churches and nonprofit organizations.
Livesay said officials changed the name to the All-College Service Day after reviewing upcoming spring semester classes. Starting this year, Norquist said, the service projects "will complement" the students' academic skills and their emerging expertise.
Other concerns for school officials included January's unpredictable weather and the closings of businesses and organizations in observance of the holiday.
Livesay said officials didn't want the service work to burden people coming in for the students because "many of the people whom we served are not open for business that day."
He said the rainy weather and freezing temperatures in January 2011 made it "very difficult for staff and students to work outside."
This year's All-College Service Day is scheduled for April 9.
Matt Benson, vice president for spiritual formation, said the changes in the service program will give students "a vision in that field for the rest of their lives," along with an increased awareness of job functions as they observe business operations.
Livesay said he hoped the changes wouldn't create misconceptions in the community, but that they would give faculty members "more ownership and personal interest" in their department's selection of service projects.
Kimberly McMillian is based in Rhea County. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.