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Midwestern trustees approve Ph.D. program

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–Amid a record-breaking semester in student headcount, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s trustees met March 27-28.

Business items included the addition of a new Ph.D. program. Trustees also elected new officers and were told that more than $280,000 in gifts had been received by the Kansas City, Mo., seminary.

Trustees voted to approve a proposed 60-hour Ph.D. program to complement Midwestern’s current doctoral studies programs that include both doctor of ministry and doctor of educational ministry degrees. The action allows seminary administrators to petition its accrediting agency –- the Association of Theological Schools -– in April for program accreditation.

The proposed program will include concentrations in both New Testament and Old Testament, considered to be the institution’s strengths, and give students the flexibility to live off-campus. If accreditation is approved, the program is slated to be offered in fall 2007.

“It has been a remarkable and monumental year for MBTS,” Midwestern President R. Philip Roberts said. “We are indeed thankful for all our partners in ministry who have made our assignment all the more exciting and doable. We are also thankful for the Lord’s good blessings.”

As part of his report to the trustees, Roberts said the 2005-06 school year looks to be another banner year in terms of enrollment and giving.

Unduplicated headcount compared to last year showed a 25 percent increase so far, Robert said, and he reported that the seminary recently received an $80,000 grant from the Mabee Foundation in Tulsa, Okla., toward the second phase of renovation of the Koehn-Myers Center for World Evangelism.

During the two-day meeting, Roberts also received on behalf of the seminary $200,000 in donations from the Missouri Baptist Convention from their reserve funds — $100,000 for Midwestern Baptist College, SBC, and another $100,000 check toward the endowment of the Missouri Baptist Convention Chair of Missions and Evangelism.

Trustees elected Oklahoma City businessman Gene Downing, a member of Southern Hills Baptist Church, as their new chairman. He previously served as chairman of the board’s institutional advancement committee and has given significantly to the seminary in both time and money. Downing replaces Kevin Ezell, pastor of Highview Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky., who has served as board chairman the previous two years.

“Kevin Ezell was an exemplary chairman for Midwestern,” Roberts said. “As well, we are very much looking forward to Gene Downing’s leading role as chairman of our trustees.”

Other officers elected to the trustees’ executive committee are Florida pastor Mike Landry as first vice chairman; Kansas City attorney James Freeman as second vice chairman; and Kansas pastor Jeff Dial as member-at-large. Judy Crain of Maryland was re-elected as secretary.

The board affirmed Rodney Harrison as associate dean and assistant professor of Christian education. Additionally, trustees renewed five-year contracts for preaching professor Ben Awbrey and Christian theological professor Mark DeVine, promoted Tom Johnston to associate professor of evangelism from assistant professor and reappointed Scott Brawner as instructor of Christian education.

In other business, the board:

— set loan limits for Midwestern students of $35,000 for master of divinity and doctoral students, $30,000 for master of arts students; $25,000 for bachelor degree students; and $15,000 for associate degree students;

— approved the strategic long-range committee as a standing committee.

— increased tuition in undergraduate and master’s level programs by $5 a credit hour to $135 a credit hour for qualified SBC students, online studies’ technology fee by $15 per credit hour, and the total cost for the doctor of ministry degree program to $4,950 from $4,500.

— authorized the seminary to utilize up to $150,000 from operating cash reserves to renovate the vacated area of the dorm building that was previously occupied by the seminary’s music department.

— approved the proposed budget for 2006-07 at $5,580,093.

The next trustee meeting is scheduled for Oct. 16-17 in Kansas City.

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