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Enrollment growth prompts changes at Southern, Mohler tells trustees

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–Additional parking for a growing student body and a major administrative restructuring were two of the items addressed during Southern Baptist Theological Seminary’s board of trustees meeting Oct. 15.

The board, meeting in the new Rice-Judson Conference Center for the first time, listened as President R. Albert Mohler Jr. detailed a handful of needs that have developed because of recent growth at the Louisville, Ky., seminary.

One of those is parking, which has been limited this fall as enrollment has grown to more than 2,400 students. That figure includes more than 500 Boyce College students — an increase of some 100 Boyce students over the previous year.

“It’s the kind of problem that growing institutions face,” Mohler said.

Prior to the meeting, the trustees’ financial board had already approved $56,000 in funding for an additional 100 parking spaces. The seminary currently has 1,562 parking spaces — 100 of which are being occupied because of various construction projects. When all construction is complete, the seminary will have nearly 1,800 parking spaces.

Trustees also heard an update on the Grinstead South apartments currently under construction. While the project is not yet complete, some of the units are finished and occupied.

Mohler told trustees about a major restructuring of the administration that began during the summer. The administration was reorganized so that all offices are under one of three divisions. Each division is headed by a senior vice president.

Daniel Akin is senior vice president of academic administration, which includes all the academic schools. Doug Walker is senior vice president of institutional relations, which encompasses such functions as fundraising and communications. T.J. McGlothlin is senior vice president of institutional administration, which takes care of the seminary’s finances and facilities.

The purpose of the restructuring was to make the seminary more efficient.

“You look back and say, ‘Why didn’t we do that sooner?'” Mohler said. “We didn’t have all the data we needed to do it sooner, but I’m glad it’s in place now.”

The change also included the physical location of the offices inside historic Norton Hall. Three school offices are being relocated, as are the offices of student services and communications. Eventually, the president’s office also will be relocated within Norton Hall.

Mohler said the changes will make the campus more student-friendly. Students will be able to go to one location in Norton Hall and have their questions answered or problems solved.

“It was clear that students, in taking care of the things students have to take care of, were being sent too many places on the campus,” Mohler said. “… The goal is that Norton Hall — which is the most historic and legendary building on this campus — will be where students not only receive instruction but receive help … The first floor of Norton Hall is going to become student central.”

In other business matters:

— Conrad “Buster” Brown of Mt. Pleasant, S.C., was named to fill a South Carolina vacancy on the board on an interim basis. He will begin serving immediately; SBC action on the vacancy will take place at the June 2003 annual meeting in Phoenix.

— Trustees approved an additional $300,000 for the Rice-Judson Conference Center. The additional funds were needed because of unforeseen complications in the renovation of the aged buildings.

— Mohler said teams from the Association of Theological Schools and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools will visit the campus this fall. The seminary is undergoing a self-study that takes place every 10 years in order to maintain accreditation.

“I am incredibly proud of what has taken place as the self-study has been completed,” he said. “It is my responsibility to tell you that this seminary is in very strong condition.”
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: PRESIDENT’S REPORT.

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  • Michael Foust