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TRUSTEES: SEBTS approves budget, faculty, curriculum changes

SEBTS President Danny Akin addresses seminary trustees at their April 12-13 meeting.

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP) – Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) trustees approved the 2021-2022 budget to include a 2.36 percent increase from the previous year, approved faculty elections and promotions as well as several new curriculum additions and took other important measures at their April 12-13 meeting.

“I stand in amazement at God’s grace and kindness to our school,” President Danny Akin said. Akin told trustees that the number of SEBTS students has reached more than 5,600, making this the 13th consecutive year of record enrollment. Likewise, Southeastern’s four-year “For the Mission” campaign reached 65 percent of its goal with giving increasing this year.

In their April 13 plenary meeting, trustees unanimously elected Karen Swallow Prior and Julia Higgins to the faculty. Prior serves as research professor of English and Christianity and culture. Higgins serves as assistant professor of ministry to women as well as associate dean of graduate program administration to the faculty.

In addition, trustees approved several curriculum changes, including a new teacher education licensure track at The College at Southeastern, a graduate certificate in biblical counseling and a PhD in pastoral theology.

Some of the most notable approved curriculum revisions included:

  • Renaming the MA in apologetics and Christian philosophy to MA in philosophy of religion.
  • Renaming the PhD in biblical counseling to PhD in Christian counseling and removing the requirement for six hours of Greek and Hebrew to apply.

SEBTS trustees also voted to approve five new endowment funds. SEBTS received its largest single gift of $5 million to its endowment through the Charles B. Keesee Educational Fund. Two student aid funds were created through the Keesee fund – the Vernie W. Lewis Student Aid Fund and the Binkley-Keesee Student Aid Fund. The former fund will provide up to $5,000 in student aid annually to three female students with a GPA above 3.0. The latter will provide student aid to full-time students with a 2.5 GPA or higher.

Three other student aid funds were approved, including:

  • The Robert and Valerie Ham Fund, which exists to help financially support disaster relief and projects run by the SEBTS Student Life Office.
  • The Nancy Norton Memorial Student Aid Fund, which exists primarily for college and seminary students, particularly those studying music from Pine Valley Baptist Church in Wilmington, N.C.
  • The Bill and Lois Long Student Aid Fund, which helps support students in the MDiv in Preaching and Pastoral Ministry program at SEBTS.

The following faculty sabbaticals were approved by trustees:

  • Benjamin Merkle, professor of New Testament and Greek and editor of the Southeastern Theological Review for spring/summer 2022
  • Karen Swallow Prior, research professor of English and Christianity and culture for spring 2022
  • Walter Strickland, assistant professor of systematic and contextual theology and associate vice president for diversity for fall 2021/spring 2022
  • Greg Welty, professor of philosophy for 2022

Board members promoted seven other faculty members:

  • Ant Greenham to professor of missions and Islamic studies
  • Benjamin Quinn to associate professor of theology and history of ideas
  • George Robinson to professor of missions and evangelism
  • Miguel Echevarria to associate professor of New Testament and Greek and director of Hispanic leadership development
  • Steven Ladd to professor of theology and philosophy
  • Tracy Mackenzie to professor of Old Testament and Hebrew
  • Joshua Waggener to associate professor of music and Christian worship

Trustees also approved the Campus Facilities Master Plan. This plan includes several renovations and new building projects, including renovations to Bostwick Hall and the construction of a dining hall, campus center and landmark tower. SEBTS staff are currently engaging architects to complete construction drawings for Bostwick Hall to expand dorm space by 96 beds to support the growth of the college.

In addition, trustees voted on the construction a new pavilion in between Stealey Hall and the Library at Southeastern to provide a covered outdoor seating area. The pavilion will be dedicated to the memory of Ty Williams, who unexpectedly passed away on Nov. 12, 2020. Ty is the son of SEBTS Facilities Director Travis Williams, who has served at the school for more than two decades.

Trustees also approved the nominations of new officers: Tim Dal, chairman; Brett Golson, vice chairman; Charles Cranford, treasurer; and Beth Wooten, secretary. Six members of the board of trustees will be rotating off, including Jason Allen, Richard Baker, Jeremy Freeman, Becky Gardner, Laura Small and Jerry Smith.

The next trustee meeting will be held on campus on Oct. 11-12.

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  • SEBTS Staff