NEW ORLEANS (BP)–Responding to record-breaking enrollment and a growing need for more student housing particularly for larger families, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary trustees gave preliminary approval June 5 to build 36 units of four-bedroom apartments.
The trustees at their regular summer session were shown architectural renderings of three centrally located, three-story, 12-unit buildings. The apartment plans were designed by the New Orleans architectural firm of Howard, Montgomery & Steger in consultation with the architectural firm that developed the seminary’s original master plan. The new apartments would be placed in a location which would require a minimum of infrastructure costs in order to facilitate building the new housing as soon as possible.
“Our students have been very patient as we did the necessary work to get our plans for the future in place,” President Chuck Kelley said. “Now it is time for us to move as quickly as possible to provide contemporary, affordable housing for our student families.”
The new student housing is part of Phase I of the New Horizons campaign, the seminary’s fund-raising effort to revitalize the campus and provide for a multitude of student needs. A four-phase project that will span two decades, the campaign was approved by NOBTS trustees in March 1999 and by messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention June 2000 annual meeting in Orlando, Fla. The public phase of the campaign kicked off in March with Phase I, which includes plans to raise $4 to $6 million for the Student Family Village.
“This project will bring the beauty, quality and functionality of the academic quadrangle to the student housing part of the campus,” Kelley said.
Groundbreaking for the new student housing had been delayed pending reaction to the earlier Baptist General Convention of Texas decision to defund the six SBC seminaries and by the urgent renovation of the Bunyan Building due to Formosan termite destruction. A formal groundbreaking ceremony for the new student housing is scheduled for October, pending final approval by the full board of trustees at that time.
In other action, trustees gave final approval to the seminary’s 2001-2002 budget, which had been considered contingent pending analysis of financial support from BGCT churches. Kelley said most Southern Baptist churches in Texas have continued to support the Cooperative Program and the six SBC seminaries. “Had Texas churches followed the recommendation of the BGCT, the seminary would have experienced a serious budget shortfall,” Kelley said. “However, because most Texas churches are continuing to support our more than 3,000 students through the Cooperative Program, we are able to move ahead with our mission of teaching students how to help churches grow again.”
Kelley also made a progress report on several separate renovation projects, some of which were initially held up the pending analysis of financial support from Texas churches. The renovation projects are part of the seminary’s Excellence Initiative, which seeks to improve the maintenance of the older buildings on the 50-year-old New Orleans campus as part of the seminary’s core value of characteristic excellence. Both the new construction and the renovation projects are an outgrowth of the decision of the seminary to remain on its 86-acre campus in New Orleans.
Projects that have been completed or will be soon include:
— Near completion of the Bunyan Building, including the landscaping of a courtyard outside the building and the installation of educational technology in at least half the classrooms.
— Renovations in Hamilton Hall, the major men’s dormitory;
— Improvements in Carey Hall, the women’s dormitory;
— Renovations to the maintenance facilities in preparation for increases in maintenance staff and operations;
— Moving the seminary’s housing office to the Hardin Student Center so that all student services are within 50 yards of each other, ensuring maximum accessibility.