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Southeastern to move forward on wide-ranging facility improvements

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s board of trustees voted unanimously Oct. 12 to name the seminary’s new faculty office complex “Stephens-Mackie Hall” uniting the building’s new beginning with its earlier history.
Trustees also voted to begin construction immediately on a $3 million, 16,000-square-foot world missions training center beside the newly renovated office complex and proceed with student housing improvements totaling more than $6 million.
Formerly the seminary’s student center and bookstore, the 14,500-square-foot building recently has undergone a $1.1 million renovation. The two-story brick building now houses 25 faculty offices, four secretarial modules, two conference rooms and a faculty commons area. Additional work space and support areas have been provided throughout the building.
Originally dedicated in 1968 in honor of Dr. and Mrs. George C. Mackie of Wake Forest, the building, then called Mackie Hall, first served as the seminary’s student center. The late Dr. Mackie was a distinguished physician who devoted his life to the well-being of students at Wake Forest College and Southeastern Seminary. His wife, now Mrs. I. Beverly Lake, was honored as a creative leader for her participation in the beautification of the seminary campus.
Now, newly renovated, the professorial office complex also has been named in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Gerald K. Stephens of Morganton, N.C. The Stephenses, who are charter members of the seminary’s board of visitors, provided the lead gift which helped launch the renovation project and have been actively involved in the school’s growth and development for many years. Presently, Stephens serves as vice president of the board of visitors.
“Few families have been any more generous in their prayer support, their monetary support and their encouragement to Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary than Mr. and Mrs. Gerald Stephens,” said Paige Patterson, seminary president and Southern Baptist Convention president. “There is hardly a day that passes that these sweet saints of God do not in some way vitally affect the future of Southeastern Seminary. Out of the gratitude of our hearts for their incredible generosity, our trustees have voted to add their names to the beautifully and newly renovated Stephens-Mackie facility.”
The building will be formally dedicated in a ceremony scheduled during the board of trustees and board of visitors meetings in April 2000.
The need for faculty office space has been critical for several years as the seminary’s faculty has grown to keep pace with the school’s flourishing enrollment. Five new professors joined the faculty this fall, bringing the number of full- and part-time faculty positions to more than 70.
Southeastern’s 1998-99 annual enrollment totaled 1,826 students, an increase of nearly 160 percent since Paige Patterson became president of the seminary in 1992.
Mackie Hall, which had been closed since 1985, was reopened early in Patterson’s presidency. Between 1992 and 1998, the Wake Forest Boys and Girls Club met in the facility rent-free. The building was closed again in 1998 for renovations and the Wake Forest Boys and Girls Club moved into a new facility off campus.
Bart C. Neal, vice president for institutional advancement, stated, “We are grateful to Jerry and Jean Stephens for their personal interest in and generous support of Southeastern Seminary in helping equip young men and women to reach the world with the gospel. The board of trustees’ decision to honor the Stephenses in this way is an appropriate acknowledgment of this family’s commitment to our Lord and the building of his kingdom.”
Stephens-Mackie Hall marks the sixth renovation of a campus building under Patterson’s leadership. A guest house, The Manor House (House of Prophets), an apartment building for married students, Bostwick Hall, Binkley Chapel, Adams Hall, and Appleby Chapel have undergone renovations as well.
Trustees voted to begin construction as soon as possible on a state-of-the-art Center for Great Commission Studies in order to have the building completed next year in time for the seminary’s 50th anniversary celebration.
The seminary still lacks about $1 million to completely fund the construction, but trustees voted to move forward with the project by borrowing $1 million from an endowment fund established for the project.
A private donor has pledged to contribute the earnings on the interest of the borrowed funds so the seminary does not lose any money on its initial investment.
“The heart of Southeastern Seminary has become associated with preparing people for the world mission effort,” Patterson said. “In recognition of that and with the full cognizance of the need for additional office space, the trustees felt that the time was right to begin the construction of the Center for Great Commission Studies.”
When completed, the missions building will be equipped with compressed interactive satellite video-conferencing capabilities facilitating live interviews with missionaries around the world. The building also will have an auditorium to hold classes and other training activities and house the Churches in Habitat Project aimed at mapping every indigenous evangelical church in the world.
Over the next year, Southeastern Seminary will embark on renovation and construction projects totaling more than $6 million in an effort to keep pace with student housing demands.
Following loan approval from the Southern Baptist Convention’s Executive Committee, trustees voted to more forward with the following projects:
— a $2.9 million project for building 36 additional family housing units at the year-old 74-unit Fletcher Village complex located off Stadium Drive.
— Johnson Dorm, which was closed in December 1998 because of faulty plumbing and electrical systems and failing to meet fire code standards. The dorm is targeted for a $2.32 million renovation that will convert the former men’s dorm into apartment units for single and married students with a housing capacity of 84 students.
— Simmons Apartments, a 63-year-old building which was closed last year for failing to meet inspection codes, scheduled for a $600,000 renovation of the 15-unit complex.
— Heating and air conditioning units on the seminary’s 100 duplex apartments to be replaced and modernized at a cost of $250,000 to increase the duplexes’ energy efficiency and reduce students’ electrical bills.
In other business, G. Paul Fletcher, vice president for business administration at Southeastern since 1980, announced his retirement effective July 31, 2000.
Trustees elected four professors who had been serving under presidential appointment: Emir Caner, assistant professor of church history and Anabaptist studies; Jason Lee, assistant professor of church history; John Sailhamer professor of Old Testament and Hebrew; and Fred Williams, instructor of history and languages at Southeastern Baptist Theological College.
The following new trustees participated in their first meeting since being elected to the board in June during the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Atlanta: Kelly Ann Dodson, a homeless shelter supervisor from Erie, Pa.; Jack E. Fallow, owner of Fallow Builders of Charlotte, N.C.; Mark E. Harris, pastor of Center Grove Baptist Church, Clemmons, N.C.; and David G. Shackelford, associate professor of New Testament and Greek, Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary, Schenectady, N.Y.
Southeastern’s board of trustees next meeting will be April 10-11, 2000.

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  • Lee Weeks