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Patterson academic building gets SEBTS trustees’ go-ahead

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–A three-story, 36,050-square-foot academic building is on the horizon at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

The new building will be named the Paige and Dorothy Patterson Hall for the former SEBTS president and first lady.

The seminary’s trustees approved the concept and construction of the building during their April 10-11 spring meeting at the Wake Forest, N.C., campus.

The new building will house the L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture, the Ph.D., D.Min. and Ed.D. offices, six large classrooms and 19 faculty offices.

There will be no debt on the building because the $5.9 million construction cost is either in hand or pledged toward the much-needed facility, Southeastern’s vice president of administration, Ryan Hutchinson, told trustees.

Trustees also unanimously voted to inaugurate the Bush Center, which will “engage the culture and defend the faith,” according to the center’s mission statement.

A dinner was held April 10 during which Bush and his wife Cindy were honored for their service to Southeastern and Southern Baptists. Bush, who has served as dean of the faculty and senior professor of philosophy and religion, will begin his new role as center director June 1.

Trustees also elected Bush to the positions of academic vice president emeritus/dean of the faculty emeritus and distinguished professor of philosophy of religion, and they passed a resolution voicing “gratitude to God for the life and service” of Bush, of whom SEBTS President Daniel Akin said, “The Southern Baptist Convention has no finer philosopher and apologist for the faith.”

Akin described the trustee meeting as historic, noting, “The construction of Patterson Hall enables us to handle a student body we believe will grow to 3,500. The Bush Center for Faith and Culture will equip a new generation of soldiers for Christ to defend the faith and engage the culture, to explain to anyone who asks both what we believe and why we believe.”

Trustees approved a revision of the graduate and undergraduate programs. Across-the-board changes were made to strengthen the seminary’s core requirements in such critical areas as biblical interpretation and theology.

Akin presented a new organizational setup to the trustees, who unanimously ratified the new structure along with accompanying changes to the seminary bylaws. The academic vice president/dean of the faculty position was renamed to senior vice president for academic administration/dean of the faculty. David Nelson, the senior associate dean/associate professor of theology, was named for this position and will oversee all academic departments.

Hutchinson was named senior vice president for business administration to oversee business/facilities matters. Dennis Darville was named to a new position of vice president for communications and student recruitment, while Kenneth Keathley was elected as professor of theology and named the new senior associate dean.

Akin said these changes were necessary as Southeastern continues to grow. Southeastern is approaching 2,600 students, a record number, and changes in administrative structure were needed to meet the demands of a larger institution, Akin said.

The trustees also approved:

— new accounts to start the M.O. Owens Chair of New Testament, John Dagg Chair of Theology, John Graham Student Aid Fund and Christopher Scott Harmon Student Aid Fund.

— promotions of John Boozer from associate professor of church music to professor of church music; Robert Cole from assistant professor of Old Testament and Semitic languages to associate professor of Old Testament and Semitic languages; David Hogg from assistant professor of church history and medieval studies to associate assistant professor of church history and medieval studies; Bruce Little from associate professor of Christian philosophy to professor of Christian philosophy; and Nelson from associate professor of theology to professor of theology.

— approved an operating budget of $20,064,804 for the coming year, an increase of 4.12 percent over the 2005-06 budget.

— elected J. Stacy Davidson of Jackson, Miss. to fill a vacant seat on the board of trustees.

— re-elected Mark Harris of Charlotte, N.C., as trustee chairman, Ron Cherry of Dallas as vice chairman, Steve Felker of Colonial Heights, Va., as secretary and Jim Goldston of Raleigh, N.C., as treasurer.

— recognized Timothy Lewis of Troy, Ill., and Jim Jacumin of Connelly Springs, N.C., as they leave the board after 10 years of service. Lewis, a former trustee chairman, headed the presidential search committee that brought Akin to Southeastern. Jacumin also served on that committee and has been a major friend to the school as the Jacumin-Simpson Missions Building is named for him.

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  • Jerry Higgins