NEW ORLEANS (BP) – The New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary trustees approved three initiatives to bolster the work of Leavell College, elected Tyler Wittman to the faculty and affirmed changes to the doctor of ministry program.
Trustees also voted to approve a partnership agreement  with the North American Mission Board to establish a church planting center on the NOBTS campus. The center will provide an immediate boost to church planting and mission efforts in New Orleans, but the impact will resonate well beyond the city as church planters are trained and sent out to serve throughout North America.
The board approved three initiatives – a revised five-year BA+MDiv program, dual enrollment and credit by examination – designed to enhance Leavell College’s efforts to serve traditional college-aged students and potential students.
The revised BA+MDiv offers motivated students the opportunity to earn a bachelor of arts degree from Leavell College and a master of divinity degree from NOBTS in as little as five years. Previously, the program was only available to students training for pastoral ministry. The approved revisions open the program to students in all of Leavell College’s majors. In addition to saving time and money for students, the program will reduce coursework redundancies.
“The revised approach to our five-year BA+MDiv is exciting because it provides greater flexibility for students and opens the door for more undergraduates to pursue this option,” said Jamie Dew, NOBTS and Leavell College president. “No longer is the five-year option limited to just one major, but now multiple undergraduate majors can be incorporated in this program, allowing more students an efficient pathway in their education and getting them to the field more quickly.”
The dual enrollment program approved by the trustees offers high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to enroll in Leavell College for up to six credit hours per semester. Students who participate earn both high school credit and college-level credit (up to 24 hours). Participants enter as non-degree seeking students and are limited to a list of approved 1000- and 2000-level courses.
“The dual enrollment program includes courses taught on campus, online and at extension centers,” said Thomas Strong III, dean of Leavell College. “This is a great way not only to begin to earn credits toward a degree early but also to begin preparation for ministry.”
Responding to the growing number of high schools utilizing the Advanced Placement Program (AP) and the College Level Examination Plan (CLEP), the trustees voted to accept credit through examination for Leavell College students. Students who achieve qualifying scores on AP or CLEP examinations may be awarded up to 30 hours of college-level credit.
“Our new dual enrollment and credit by examination programs allow high school students to get ahead in their college credits and to gain credit in a uniquely Christian context,” Dew said. “Our program provides an affordable option for students that need such credit.”
The trustees elected noted scholar and theologian Tyler R. Wittman to the faculty as assistant professor of theology. Wittman began serving Aug. 1 through a presidential appointment.
“Tyler has been very well received by our students and faculty and strengthens our academic work,” Dew said. “In just a few months here on campus, Tyler has already embraced our city, our students, and our faculty. We thank God for bringing such a wonderful faculty member to us and look forward to serving alongside him for years to come.”
Wittman’s academic journey began at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he earned master of divinity and the master of theology degrees. In 2016, Wittman was awarded a doctor of philosophy degree at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland for his dissertation “Confessing God as God: Thomas Aquinas and Karl Barth on Theology and Economy.”
The board approved revisions to the doctor of ministry to align the degree with new standards released by the school’s accrediting body, the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada. The updates also allow for greater flexibility in assessing ministry experience due to the rise in bi-vocational and co-vocational ministry.
The trustees also approved revisions to the master of divinity degree specialization in marriage and family counseling.