During the April 12-13 meeting, the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) Board of Trustees approved several items that will enhance and strengthen the academic and communal experience of students.
Trustees approved the 2021-22 budget to include a 2.36% increase from the previous year, faculty elections and promotions, several new curriculum additions and other important measures.
“I stand in amazement at God’s grace and kindness to our school,” said Danny Akin, who noted that the institution has reached over 5,600 students, making this the 13th consecutive year of record enrollment for the institution. Likewise, Southeastern’s four-year “For the Mission” campaign reached 65% of its total goal with giving increasing this year.
In their April 13 plenary meeting, trustees unanimously elected Karen Swallow Prior and Julia Higgins to the faculty. Prior serves as research professor of English and Christianity and culture. Higgins serves as assistant professor of ministry to women and associate dean of graduate program administration to the faculty.
In addition, trustees approved several curriculum changes, including a new teacher education licensure track in the college, a graduate certificate in Biblical counseling, and a PhD in pastoral theology.
The College at Southeastern eagerly seeks to train highly qualified teachers at a time when there is a severe shortage of licensed teachers in our state and many parts of the nation. By providing the teacher education licensure track, students will have the opportunity to gain field experience as they prepare for the work to which God has called them. The graduate certificate in biblical counseling is 12 hours and offers a flexible pace for those seeking training for their current ministry or those considering further studies in a master’s-level degree or higher. The PhD in pastoral theology is a 60-hour degree that will be offered in a modified residency format. The degree will prepare pastors to shepherd their congregations well by building a stronger understanding and practice of theology. The degree seeks to integrate theology, leadership, preaching and counseling to produce scholars who think pastorally in their academic endeavors.
Some of the most notable approved curriculum revisions included:
- Renaming the M.A. in apologetics and Christian philosophy to M.A. in philosophy of religion
- PhD in Biblical counseling name changed to PhD in Christian counseling and will no longer require six hours of Greek and Hebrew to apply.
SEBTS trustees also voted to approve five new endowment funds. SEBTS received its largest single gift of $5 million to its endowment through the Charles B. Keesee Educational Fund. Through the Keesee fund, two student aid funds have been created to include the Vernie W. Lewis Student Aid Fund and the Binkley-Keesee Student Aid Fund. The former fund will provide up to $5,000 in student aid to three female students annually with a GPA above 3.0. The latter fund will provide student aid to full-time students with a 2.5 GPA or higher.
Three other student aid funds were approved, including:
- The Robert and Valerie Ham Fund, which exists to help financially support disaster relief and projects run by the SEBTS Student Life Office.
- The Nancy Norton Memorial Student Aid Fund, which exists primarily for college and seminary students, particularly those studying music from Pine Valley Baptist Church in Wilmington, NC.
- The Bill and Lois Long Student Aid Fund exists to help support students in the MDiv in preaching and pastoral ministry program at SEBTS.
The following faculty sabbaticals were approved by trustees:
- Benjamin Merkle, professor of New Testament and Greek and editor of the Southeastern Theological Review for a spring/summer 2022 sabbatical
- Karen Swallow Prior, research professor of English and Christianity and culture for the spring 2022 sabbatical
- Walter Strickland, assistant professor of systematic and contextual theology and associate vice president for diversity was approved for a fall 2021/spring 2022 sabbatical
- Greg Welty, professor of philosophy for 2022
Board members promoted seven other faculty members:
- Ant Greenham to professor of missions and Islamic studies
- Benjamin Quinn to associate professor of theology and history of ideas
- George Robinson to professor of missions and evangelism
- Miguel Echevarria, assistant professor of New Testament and Greek and director of Hispanic leadership development
- Steven Ladd to professor of theology and philosophy
- Tracy Mackenzie to professor of Old Testament and Hebrew
- Joshua Waggener, associate professor of music and Christian worship
Trustees also approved the Campus Facilities Master Plan. This plan includes several renovations and new building projects, including renovations to Bostwick Hall and the construction of a dining hall, campus center and landmark tower. SEBTS staff are currently engaging architects to complete construction drawings in Bostwick Hall to expand dorm space by 96 beds to support the growth of the college.
In addition, trustees voted on the construction of a new pavilion in between Stealey Hall and the Library at Southeastern to provide a covered outdoor seating area. The pavilion will be dedicated to the memory of Ty Williams, who unexpectedly passed away on Nov. 12, 2020. Ty is the son of SEBTS facilities director Travis Williams, who has served at the school for over two decades.
Trustees approved the nominations of Tim Dale as Chairman of the Board, Brett Golson as Vice Chairman, Charles Cranford as Treasurer and Beth Wooten as Secretary. Six members of the Board of Trustees will be rotating off, including Jason Allen, Richard Baker, Jeremy Freeman, Becky Gardner, Laura Small and Jerry Smith.
The next Board of Trustees meeting will be held on campus on Oct. 11-12.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – This story was corrected July 14, 2021. A previous version inaccurately stated that counseling degrees would be offered fully online.)