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10/15/97 4-year Bible college receives Southern trustees’ approval

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–In an enthusiastic chorus of “Amen!” trustees of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary unanimously approved creation of the James P. Boyce College of the Bible Oct. 14, described as the first four-year Bible college associated with a Southern Baptist seminary.
Calling the new college an “historic advance for the cause of theological education among Southern Baptists” and the “continuation of a vision that gave birth to” the seminary, President R. Albert Mohler Jr. told trustees the program will address needs of Southern Baptist churches.
“The Boyce College of the Bible is designed to offer a traditional Bible college education of the highest quality to the thousands of Southern Baptists who do not yet hold a college degree, but have been called by God to the ministry of the gospel,” Mohler said in making the recommendation at the seminary’s semiannual board meeting.
“This is a distinctly Baptist vision for theological education, for it recognizes that our churches and ministers require differing levels of study and education,” Mohler said. “Our goal should be to provide programs of the finest quality and highest faithfulness to all those called of God to serve our churches.”
The new college, named for the founding president of Southern Seminary, will replace the Boyce Bible School which was created in 1974 as a non-degree granting undergraduate program for ministerial training. By 1994, the Boyce School was accredited to grant associate of arts degrees.
During an August meeting of the Boyce Advisory Council, the current dean of Boyce Bible School, Bob Johnson, announced his retirement to be effective July 31, 1998. Johnson will continue as a consultant to the new college through July 31, 1999, with particular responsibility for relating Boyce’s current off-campus centers to the new college, Mohler reported.
Although the proposal to create the college was not formally presented during the advisory council’s August meeting, Mohler said the council was “enthusiastic about the idea of a four-year program.” The council is largely composed of state convention executive directors from states which host some of Boyce’s off-campus programs.
In lauding the work of Johnson and his predecessor, David Byrd, Mohler said, “Each has developed the Boyce program to a new stage of greater ministry. The time for the next stage of development has now come.”
Set to begin operations Aug. 1, 1998, Mohler noted Boyce College of the Bible will be a fully accredited four-year Bible college which will offer a 129-hour bachelor of arts in biblical studies degree and a 66-hour associate of arts degree. As the fifth school of Southern Seminary, Boyce College will have a separate faculty, although the college faculty and seminary faculty may at times teach courses in the other’s academic program.
Four divisions within the college are anticipated — biblical studies, theological studies, ministry studies and general studies. Each division eventually will be led by a full-time faculty member of the college. Mohler predicted “between 100 and 150” students will be enrolled in the college in the first year.
The Boyce College of the Bible joins undergraduate-type programs launched other SBC seminaries. New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s college of undergraduate studies, for example, begun in August 1992, offers two accredited baccalaureate degrees through the main campus, bachelor of arts and bachelor of general studies (with majors in pastoral ministries, Christian education and music). Southeastern Baptist Theological College, begun in 1995 at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, offers bachelor’s-degree course work in biblical studies to students have completed 58 hours of credit at another accredited college.
Mohler indicated the seminary immediately will begin a search for the dean of the college who will also serve as a faculty member of the school and direct its administration. The dean will serve as a member of the seminary’s executive cabinet and will report to the vice president for academic administration.
In response to a trustee’s question, Mohler said the seminary hopes to continue its present partnership with Campbellsville University which permits Boyce students to transfer course work in order to earn a bachelor’s degree through the university. Noting the liberal arts focus of Campbellsville, Mohler said some students may prefer that focus to the biblical studies focus of the new college.
In background materials made available to news media, the seminary notes creation of the Boyce College is not expected to “compete with Baptist colleges and universities for students.” Unlike liberal arts undergraduate programs, “The very tight focus on biblical studies for ministry is the unique hallmark of the Boyce College of the Bible. Bible colleges rarely compete with liberal arts colleges for students.”
Trustees also asked Mohler to address various details of the new program including entrance requirements, curriculum, faculty tenure, role of the advisory board and acceptance of Boyce students into the seminary’s master of divinity programs.
According to background materials, the college will be funded as a part of the seminary’s “total budgetary structure” and will not significantly impact the seminary’s Cooperative Program funding received from the Southern Baptist Convention since the college will replace the already existing Boyce Bible School program.
“As the next stage of development for the Boyce program, the college will make history as the first Southern Baptist program of its kind and will make a difference in the world, as its graduates go out to preach, teach, serve and fulfill the Great Commission of our Lord Jesus Christ,” Mohler said.

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