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TRUSTEES: SEBTS adds 3 profs, updates campus master plan

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s trustees have promoted two professors and elected three professors to the faculty. They also approved an updated campus master plan and changes to a degree program in Bible translation during their April 11-12 biannual meeting.

Nathan Finn was promoted from assistant professor of church history and Baptist studies to associate professor of historical theology and Baptist studies, while Daniel Heimbach was promoted from professor of Christian ethics to senior professor of Christian ethics. The trustees also approved the election to the faculty of Jeremy Evans as associate professor of philosophy; Larry Purcell, associate professor of leadership; and Tony Merida, associate professor of preaching.

Evans and Purcell currently serve on Southeastern’s faculty. Merida, who is new to campus, formerly was the teaching pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Hattiesburg, Miss. In addition to his election to the faculty, Merida is the founding pastor of Imago Dei Church, a new church plant in Raleigh, N.C.

In updating the campus master plan, which is revisited every four to five years, trustees set forth a list of priorities and estimated costs for various campus needs. In conjunction with surveys and suggestions from faculty, staff and students, the campus planning committee submitted a plan that includes approximately $35 million in campus upgrades and renovations.

The committee identified the most urgent needs as a new student center and renovations to the current Ledford Center for additional recreation and fitness facilities. The plan also includes renovations to Simmons Hall and shifting of other housing facilities to free up Lolley Hall for offices and a welcome center. Additionally, trustees approved renovations of Stealey and Appleby halls as well as the Denny Library as part of the new master plan.

Trustees also approved the recommended budget increase of 4.21 percent to a 2011-12 operating budget of $21.6 million. Because Cooperative Program giving continues to lag behind previous years, the budget increase will require a raise in tuition for students, many of whom, Southeastern President Daniel Akin said, appear to be struggling already with paying their tuition.

Akin said although enrollment is at a record 2,689 students, the number of hours of classes being taken has not significantly increased and, in fact, reflects class load amounts equal to those in 2006. These numbers indicate that although more students are taking classes, they are taking fewer classes, likely due to economic concerns. Akin urged the trustees to encourage their local churches to give to the Cooperative Program, which supplies about 40 percent of funds for Southeastern’s annual budget. Akin said in order for students to graduate without school debt, more financial support must be given to supplement the increased operating costs and budget.

“I’d encourage you to pray God will raise up more partners for annual giving and endowment,” Akin said. “God is doing great things here, and we want to see that financial increase for the glory of God.”

In academic matters, trustees approved proposed changes to the master of arts degree in Bible translation, which prepares students to serve as translators and as field supervisors for Bible translation teams, taking the Word of God to people around the world.

The curriculum prepares students to translate the Bible into languages now without access to God’s Word — particularly in translating the Bible from its original languages of Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek to give people groups access to God’s Word in their own languages, enabling believers to study the Bible for themselves.
Lauren Crane is a writer at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

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