NEW ORLEANS – The board of trustees at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Leavell College approved revisions to the master’s degree programs, elected three faculty members, and approved the creation of the Jim Henry Leadership Institute during their spring meeting April 12-13.
The board also approved a $24.45 million budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year.
“This was the most extensive trustee meeting during my tenure as president, and the board approved a significant number of initiatives and projects to help us,” said Jamie Dew, president of NOBTS and Leavell College. “The votes today put us in a position to execute our mission more effectively and train the next generations of pastors and missionaries.”
The creation of the Jim Henry Leadership Institute is to address the growing need for Christian leadership development. Named in honor of Jim Henry, the retired, long-term pastor of First Baptist Church in Orlando, Fla., and former SBC president, the institute will conduct research, consult with churches and Christian leaders, provide leadership resources, and host leadership summits and conferences. The institute will offer doctoral research fellowships allowing students to research and write about key leadership issues facing local churches.
Trustees also voted to revise the Master of Divinity and Master of Arts programs at NOBTS. The plan put forward by the administration and faculty represented more than a year of review, assessment, research and degree development. The new plans strengthen the classical theological training elements (biblical languages, biblical studies, theology, and history) and practical, applied ministry skill development requirements (preaching, pastoral, ministry, administration, and missions). The updated degree plans are designed to meet the needs of today’s churches and Christian ministries.
“The changes to our M.Div. program allow us to prepare people for ministry in this day and in this culture,” Dew said. “The changes provide a more consistent and efficient curricular core that our students will be able to navigate and complete.”
The faculty created a group of core classes (69 hours) to serve as the foundation for all M.Div. specializations. The plan ensures that all the M.Div. specializations address the needs of the local church. The common foundational courses also make the degrees more uniform and user-friendly for students. A 27-hour core was also created as the foundation of all M.A. degrees and offers the same benefits as the M.Div. core.
“I am grateful for the work of our faculty to develop a curriculum that meets the needs of our students and the needs of the church today,” said Norris Grubbs, NOBTS provost.
Trustees also approved revisions to the M.Div. specializations. Each M.Div. specialization consists of 12 hours in a discipline along with six hours of free electives. The board approved changes to the M.A. degrees as well. Students may pursue a number of academic M.A.s preparing them for research doctoral programs as well as practical M.A.s focused on ministry preparation for the local church and Christian ministries.
The board elected Greg Wilton, Thomas Doughty and Jessica McMillan to the NOBTS and Leavell College faculty. Long time registrar, Paul Gregoire, was named registrar emeritus.
“I am very grateful for the faculty that the Lord is allowing us to build,” Dew said. “These men and women love Christ and represent who we are. They will make fantastic instructors for our students.”
Wilton, who began his role as dean of Leavell College in January, was elected as assistant professor of missions and evangelism. Born in New Orleans, Wilton spent his first 11 years on the NOBTS campus while his father studied at the seminary and served on the faculty. After completing a bachelor’s degree at Samford University, Wilton returned to campus as a student in 2006. He earned three degrees from NOBTS (a Master of Arts in missiology, a Master of Theology, and the Doctor of Philosophy).
Wilton went on to serve as a missionary with the International Mission Board. Before returning to NOBTS as Leavell College dean, Wilton oversaw national strategies and ministry efforts aimed at immigrant and refugee care and directed the work of Send Relief’s Clarkston Ministry Center in Clarkston, Ga.
Trustees elected Doughty as assistant professor of theology and Christian worldview. Doughty graduated with the doctor of philosophy degree from NOBTS in December 2021 and has been teaching Leavell College courses as an adjunct professor since 2018. He earned his undergraduate degree from Blue Mountain College in Mississippi and earned Master of Divinity and Master of Theology degrees from NOBTS. Doughty has worked in the NOBTS business office since 2017, managing student accounts. Since January, he has overseen daily operations as director of the business office. Doughty will also begin the role of associate dean of Leavell College in July. Sandra Vandercook, the current associate dean, was named associate vice president for accreditation and assessment by the administration.
Trustees elected McMillan as assistant professor of music and worship. She has taught at NOBTS as an adjunct professor since 2019 and currently directs the Doctor of Musical Arts program at the seminary. McMillan earned bachelor’s degrees in music and Spanish from the University of South Alabama. She served as a resort missionary with the North American Mission Board before coming to NOBTS to further her education. She earned a Master of Music in Church Music from NOBTS in 2000. In 2017, McMillan completed a Doctor of Musical Arts degree at NOBTS, focusing on worship and hymnology.
The board recognized Paul Gregoire’s 30-plus years of service by naming him registrar emeritus. Gregoire served as seminary registrar from 1993 until he retired from the role of registrar this spring. He will continue to serve as a consultant for the registrar’s office. Casey Evans was announced as the new registrar and director of student services.
The trustees elected Waylon Bailey, pastor of First Baptist Church in Covington, La., to serve as chairman of the trustee board. Eddie Wren, pastor of First Baptist Church in Rayville, La., was elected to serve as the vice-chair of the board. Jackie Myers, an educator from Sicily Island, Louisiana, was elected to serve another term as the secretary-treasurer of the board.
In other action:
- Trustees approved rank promotions to Ken Ellis (professor of Christian ministry), Jeff Farmer (professor of church ministry and evangelism), Adam Hughes (associate professor of expository preaching), and David Odom (professor of student ministry).
- Trustees approved faculty tenure for Jeff Audirsch (associate professor of biblical studies) and Adam Hughes.