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Baptist college assoc. approves reorganization

CHARLESTON, S.C. (BP) — The International Association of Baptist Colleges and Universities has approved a reorganization plan to reduce the number of paid staff members, cut the budget by nearly half, reduce dues paid by its 47 member schools by approximately half, and move the association to Samford University in Birmingham, Ala., from Nashville.

The IABCU, established in 1949 under the auspices of the former Southern Baptist Education Commission, formed a Commission on the Future of the Association in June 2013 in preparation of the announced retirement of both the executive director and associate director.

After a year of study, the commission, chaired by board chair David Olive, president of Bluefield College in Virginia, presented its recommendations for the future operation of the IABCU during the association’s June 1-2 annual meeting. The board of directors had approved the recommendations in April before being presented to presidents and chief academic officers representing IABCU member schools at the annual meeting in Charleston, S.C.

In addition to Olive, members of the commission were Ronald L. Ellis, president of California Baptist University; Lanny Hall, president of Hardin-Simmons University in Texas; Dub Oliver, president of Union University in Tennessee; Pat Taylor, president of Southwest Baptist University in Missouri; Evans Whitaker, president of Anderson University in South Carolina; and David Whitlock, president of Oklahoma Baptist University.

Resource persons who worked with the commission included Bob Agee, former IABCU executive director and former college president; Frank Bonner, immediate past board chair and president of Gardner-Webb University in North Carolina; Paul Corts, Corts Consulting and a former college president; Mike Arrington, IABCU executive director; and Tim Fields, IABCU associate director.

The recommendations were based on findings of the commission after surveys of member presidents and chief academic officers and other research into providing programs and services of highest benefit to the member schools for the lowest possible dues.

Major recommendations include:

— Delete the paid executive director position. The board chair becomes president and chief officer of the association and its board of directors. Board officers will plan and implement the annual meeting.

— Employ a paid executive secretary who will work under the president’s direction and perform many of the tasks associated with the current position of associate director.

— Elect a board officer to serve as treasurer to assist the president in oversight of the executive secretary’s financial work, along with the board’s oversight and audit responsibilities.

— Reduce the IABCU membership fee structure by approximately 50 percent and reallocate greater resources to the annual meeting and its Hester Lecture.

— Relocate association offices to Samford University, which was among six schools that made proposals to house IABCU.

— Continue to publish a Baptist Educator with an annual report, maintain an interactive website, a doctoral loan program, tuition remission program and job posting webpage, and continue financial support for the Baylor Seminar on Academic Leadership in Baptist Universities and the Baptist College and University Scholars Program at Baylor.

— Create a new associate member category for individuals who have served as president, chief academic officer or in another senior leadership position at an IABCU member institution but who retire or take a position at a non-member institution.

— Amend the bylaws to allow officers elected by the board to hold office for a term of one year but may succeed himself/herself for one additional term.

In other action, the association board and members recognized retiring Executive Director Mike Arrington for his six years of service and retiring Associate Director Tim Fields for 17 years of service. Arrington retired June 6 after a total of 47 years in Christian higher education. Fields will retire after the association office moves to Samford and an executive secretary is employed. Fields served 26 years with Southern Baptist Convention entities, including nine years with the former SBC Education Commission, before joining the association staff.

Members elected two new board members to fill unexpired terms and four new members for full four-year terms: Gary Cook, president, Dallas Baptist University; Tommy King, president, William Carey University in Mississippi; Barbara McMillin, president, Blue Mountain College in Mississippi; Steve Vernon, associate executive director, Baptist General Convention of Texas (at large); Scott Bullard, academic dean, Judson College in Alabama, 3-year term; and Evans Whitaker, president, Anderson University, 2-year term (at large).

Elected as the association’s 2014–15 officers: chair/president, David Olive, Bluefield College; vice president, Dub Oliver, Union University; recording secretary, Mark A. Wyatt, vice president for marketing and communications, California Baptist University; and treasurer Jairy C. Hunter Jr., president of Charleston Southern University.

IABCU board members presented Donald D. Schmeltekopf, Baylor University provost emeritus, professor and director of The Center for Ministry Effectiveness and Educational Leadership, with the Charles D. Johnson Outstanding Educator Award, given to individuals who have made a significant contribution to Baptist-related higher education. The award recognizes Charles D. Johnson, who authored “Higher Education of Southern Baptists” and served as the Southern Baptist Education Commission’s chairman from 1932-53.

Schmeltekopf was praised for his longtime service to Baptist-related higher education and to the association as a former board member and as board chair from 1998-99. Through the annual “Seminar on Academic Leadership in Baptist Universities,” held on the Baylor University campus in Texas, Schmeltekopf has trained more than 250 administrators for their work at Baptist colleges and universities.

During the annual meeting, Bill Leonard of the Wake Forest University School of Divinity, delivered the Hester Lectures on “The Non-denominationalizing of American Religion and Baptist Identity” and “Education in a Non-denominational Era.”

“The non-denominationalizing of American religion is a sign of the permanent transition that continues to characterize church life for at least two decades. As it extends across the globe we wonder if it is a new reformation or just another ecclesiastical fad,” Leonard said in setting forth suggestions for effective Christian higher education in what he called a “non-denominational era.” Leonard is the divinity school’s James and Marilyn Dunn Professor of Baptist Studies and Professor of Church History.
Adapted from a report by the International Association of Baptist Colleges and Universities.

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