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TRUSTEES: SEBTS celebrates new provost, record enrollment

WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP) – The board of trustees of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) praised God for His continued blessings to the institution, namely through the election of Keith Whitfield as provost and reports of record-breaking student enrollment at their meeting Monday (Oct. 12).

“What God has done has been amazing in terms of our enrollment, our finances and the spirit of the campus,” SEBTS President Daniel Akin said.

As provost, Whitfield will oversee development, coordination and implementation of SEBTS curriculum as well as faculty recruitment, evaluation and retention. Whitfield also serves as dean of graduate studies and associate professor of theology.

Whitfield received both his Master of Theology and Master of Divinity in biblical and theological studies from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. In 2013, Whitfield received his PhD from SEBTS. Throughout his academic career, he has written extensively on theology and co-hosts a podcast encouraging church leaders to share the Gospel in America and around the world. Whitfield’s wife Amy is associate vice president for convention communications with the SBC Executive Committee.

In his presidential report, Akin reported record numbers of enrollment for both the 2019-2020 academic year and the current fall semester. Student enrollment at SEBTS has increased for 12 consecutive years, with a record enrollment of 5,273 at the end of the 2019-2020 academic year. Likewise, SEBTS continues to see an influx in applications to both the seminary and the College at Southeastern. Akin also noted that SEBTS is continuing to see great progress in its financial campaign “For the Mission” which has reached 59.2 percent of its $20.5 million goal.

Trustees also voted to elect Ann White and David White (no relation) as interim board members. These interim replacements were due to the resignations of John Onwuchekwa and Joe Forrester.

Ann White serves as founder and executive director of Courage for Life, a global ministry that helps others walk with courage in the face of fear and find healing through God’s Word. She wrote a book by the same title and founded a global ministry based on the restoration she experienced in her marriage. She has authored numerous books, Bible studies and leadership curricula. David White serves as the executive pastor of First Baptist Church in Douglasville, Ga. Prior to serving as executive pastor, David White was a partner at KPMG LLP, an accounting firm in Atlanta, where he oversaw the firm’s actuarial services practice. He has extensive experience in international business and leading teams through operational and administrative issues.

Trustees approved three endowment accounts: The Center for Faith and Culture Endowment, which will provide financial assistance to the L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture at SEBTS; The Daniel Akin Preaching Student Aid Fund, which will provide financial assistance to Master of Divinity students in the expository preaching track and The Tucker Student Aid Fund, which will provide financial assistance for undergraduate students at The College at Southeastern.

During the meeting’s plenary session, trustees also approved:

  • A Certificate in Christian Ministry. The 12-hour certificate is for students seeking to gain proficiency in Christian ministry and can be completed in on-campus, online or hybrid formats.
  • Curriculum revisions for the Master of Divinity in Ministry Leadership to provide a more seamless transition for students in the Master of Arts to transfer to the Master of Divinity degree. The curriculum changes include two additional course selectives.
  • Changes to the undergraduate major and minor requirements. Students will no longer be able to double major in a degree that has six or more credit hours that overlap. Likewise, students will no longer be able to choose a major and minor that overlap in six or more credit hours.
  • The forthcoming sabbaticals of Scott Kellum and Keith Harper. Kellum, who serves as professor of New Testament and Greek, will take a sabbatical during the Fall 2021 semester. Harper, who serves as senior professor of Baptist studies, will take a sabbatical from Fall 2021-Spring 2022.
  • The engagement of architects to update to the Campus Facilities Master Plan, which was last approved in 2016. SEBTS will plan to work with Design Development, an architectural firm that has assisted SEBTS in the past four Campus Facilities Master Plan updates. The seminary has a trusted relationship with Design Development through the firm’s assistance on the construction of Patterson Hall in 2008 and various smaller projects. The updated master plan will be presented at the Spring 2021 meeting.
  • Three committee assignments, including Ann White to the Institutional Advancement Committee, David White to the Audit and Investment Committee, and Jeremy Freeman to the Student Services Committee.

The Board of Trustees meet biannually during the spring and fall semesters. The next meeting will take place April 12-13, 2021.

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  • SEBTS Staff