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NOBTS trustees elect new profs to keep pace with enrollment

NEW ORLEANS (BP)–Enrollment growth over the past three years has created a need for additional professors at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Trustees addressed the need by electing seven new faculty members during their meeting April 14.

The newly appointed faculty members will teach in the area of psychology and counseling, Christian education, evangelism and women’s ministry. The group includes the seminary’s first ministry-based faculty member –- a new trustee-elected, non-tenure track faculty category.

“We are excited to be gaining three new faculty members in our Christian education division to meet the demand of our incredible growth in student enrollment in the area of Christian education,” said Steve Lemke, NOBTS provost. “It is particularly important to us that each of these faculty members comes with real-world experience in local church ministry. They have both the academic credentials and the ministry experience to train the next student generation how to ‘do church’ effectively.”

Rick Morton joins the Christian education division at NOBTS after serving at Southern Seminary for two years. The NOBTS alumnus will serve as assistant professor of Christian education ministry. An expert in youth education, Morton will serve as associate director of the seminary’s Youth Ministry Institute skill development program for current and future youth ministers.

Morton completed undergraduate work at the University of Memphis and earned master of arts and doctor of philosophy degrees at NOBTS. An accomplished writer, he has written numerous articles and developed curricula for youth education.

Before joining the faculty at SBTS, Morton taught at Bryan College in Dayton, Tenn. He also has six years of church ministry experience leading youth and family ministries at churches in Louisiana and Tennessee.

Allen England, who comes to NOBTS from Clear Creek Baptist Bible College in Pineville, Ky., will serve as assistant professor of church and educational administration. He will be the seminary’s LifeWay liaison professor and occupy the J.M. Frost Chair of Christian Education.

England is a graduate of Carson-Newman College in Jefferson City, Tenn., and received master of arts in Christian education and doctor of education degrees from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky. He has 14 years of experience serving as a minister of education at churches in Kentucky and Alabama. In addition to his teaching duties at Clear Creek from 2000 to present, England served as an adjunct professor at Southern Seminary in 2003.

Joining England and Morton in the seminary’s division of Christian education is Loretta Rivers as assistant professor of social work. She has served as instructor in social work at NOBTS since 1998.

Rivers received undergraduate training at the University of Mississippi and earned the master of arts in Christian education degree at NOBTS. In 1996, she completed the master of social work degree at Louisiana State University and is currently a doctor of philosophy in social work candidate at Tulane University in New Orleans.

A former home missionary, Rivers served as assistant director of the Carver Baptist Mission Center in New Orleans from 1991-94. She began teaching at NOBTS after serving two years as a medical social worker at Milestone Health Care at Columbia Lakeland Medical Center in New Orleans.

“Our counseling program is one of our largest and strongest academic programs,” Lemke said. “We have done an extensive search to find the best faculty members we could find who blend good counseling techniques with the distinctive spiritual resources available to Christian counselors. Jay Alvaro and Tate Cockrell have both practiced counseling not only in private practice, but also in a church-based setting. They are excellent mentors for the Christian counselors of the next generation.”

Jay Alvaro, elected to serve as assistant professor of psychology and counseling, is a licensed counselor and a marriage and family therapist with extensive professional experience. He received the bachelor of science degree from Southeastern Louisiana University and the master of divinity degree in psychology and counseling from NOBTS. In 2001, Alvaro earned the doctor of philosophy degree in psychology and counseling at NOBTS.

Since 1997, Alvaro has been the staff counselor at First Baptist Church of New Orleans. For six years he served as a counseling consultant with the office of community service for the state of Louisiana.

Alvaro is an experienced instructor and seminary student supervisor. Since 1996 he has been an adjunct professor at NOBTS and from 1996-97 he served as director of clinical pastoral training at Southeast Louisiana State Hospital. Alvaro also has supervised post-graduate counseling interns at First Baptist New Orleans.

Joining Alvaro as assistant professor of psychology and counseling is Tate Cockrell. He received the doctor of philosophy degree in psychology and counseling from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, in December. Currently directing NOBTS’ student enlistment efforts, Cockrell has also been an instructor in psychology and counseling the seminary since 2000.

He received the master of arts degree in marriage and family counseling and the master of arts degree in Christian education at SWBTS. He completed undergraduate studies at William Carey College in Hattiesburg, Miss.

As the former director of the Dawson McAllister Association in Fort Worth, he supervised a teen crisis hotline, youth conferences, weekly radio broadcasts and publications. Cockrell was therapist supervisor for the Baptist Counseling Center in Fort Worth from 1997-99 and led youth and children’s programs at churches in Mississippi and Texas.

Rhonda Kelley was elected as professor of women’s ministry, as the seminary’s first ministry-based faculty member. The ministry-based faculty category is designed for instructors who are involved in other ministries but are able to commit to teaching half of a normal faculty load. These non-tenure track, trustee-elected professors assist in instruction for focused disciplines or delivery systems for which fulltime faculty are not available.

Since 1997, Kelley has served as coordinator of the women’s ministry program at NOBTS –- a program that offers courses on certificate, baccalaureate, master’s and doctoral levels. Kelley holds bachelor of arts and master of science degrees in speech pathology and audiology from Baylor University in Texas and a doctor of philosophy degree in special education and speech pathology from the University of New Orleans. From 1978-96 she worked with Ochsner Medical Institutions in New Orleans, serving as the director of communicative disorders from 1981-93.

“Dr. Rhonda Kelley is one of the best known leaders nationally in the field of women’s ministry,” Lemke said. “We are delighted with the leadership that she gives to our women’s ministry program.”

Kelley has been involved in Christian ministry since 1980, teaching and directing women’s missionary and ministry programs at First Baptist Church of New Orleans. She is the host of “A Word for Women,” a radio and television program on WBSN-FM and the local ACTS network in New Orleans. Kelley, who has written and contributed to 13 books, is the wife of seminary President Chuck Kelley.

Trustees approved David Platt as instructor of evangelism and as associate director of supervised ministry at NOBTS. Currently a doctor of philosophy student at the seminary, Platt also serves as staff evangelist for Edgewater Baptist Church in New Orleans.

The University of Georgia graduate earned master of divinity with specialization in expository preaching and master of theology degrees at NOBTS. Since 2000, Platt has served as assistant to the dean of the chapel and as a teaching fellow at NOBTS.

Four faculty members received promotions during the meeting. Tim Searcy was promoted to professor of Christian education, Ken Keathley to associate professor of theology, Leo Day to associate professor of voice and John Gibson to associate professor of communications for Leavell College. Day and Gibson were granted tenure by the board along with Philip Pinckard, associate professor of missions, and Joel Sherrer, associate professor of adult education.

Trustees approved a year-long sabbatic proposal for Stan Norman, associate professor of theology, to be taken during the 2004-05 school year and a half-year sabbatic proposal for Charlie Ray, professor of New Testament and Greek and associate dean of research doctoral programs, to be taken during the spring of 2005. Preliminary sabbatic proposals were approved for Ken Gabrielse, associate professor of church music and chairperson for the division of church music ministries; Leo Day, associate professor of voice; Philip Pinckard, associate professor of missions; Paula Stringer, professor of childhood education; and John Gibson, associate professor of communication in Leavell College.

During faculty-related business, trustees approved:

— A course load reduction (from 21 hours to 18 hours) for professors with responsibilities in the doctor of philosophy program.

— Appointment of Ken Keathley as associate dean of graduate studies and to the McFarland Chair of Theology.

— Jeff Griffin as director of libraries.

— Appointment of Robert Stewart to the Greer-Heard Chair of Philosophy and Culture.

— Jeanine Bozeman as senior professor of social work (reappointment).

— Bill Day as director of supervised ministry.

— Scott Drumm as associate director of institutional effectiveness.