WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–Trustees of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary have approved a budget that will not raise tuition for students next year and will not call for any job eliminations on campus.
“As we worked on this budget, our chief priorities were to keep costs down for our students and to retain all of our employees,” President Daniel Akin said in presenting the budget proposal to trustees during their April 20-21 meeting at the Wake Forest, N.C., campus.
“I am pleased that, despite the economic climate we are faced with, we were able to meet those goals,” Akin said. “We remain committed to responsible spending and streamlined operations, both now and in the future.”
The total fiscal 2009-10 budget approved by the trustees was $20,237,568, a decrease of 5.2 percent from 2008-09’s $21,337,680. For the second consecutive year, no salary increases were included in the budget, but administrators said they will monitor economic conditions throughout the year and pledged to explore other avenues for increasing employee compensation. Last year, for example, Southeastern paid out year-end bonuses to all employees after the sale of some land.
Ryan Hutchinson, senior vice president of business administration, said all departments were tasked with cutting their budgets by 10 percent. This way, cost-cutting was spread across the board. No particular initiative or area was targeted, Hutchinson said.
Board chairman Ron Cherry thanked the administrative staff for their diligence in submitting a budget that he described as both fiscally sound and committed to keeping student costs low.
“Our students need all the help they can get right now,” Cherry said. “I am thankful for an institution that can continue being effective in its mission without raising tuition for its students.”
The budget did include an increase in housing rates for next year because of rising costs related to lease and debt payments.
Trustees also approved new minors for Southeastern’s undergraduate program, The College at Southeastern. Previously, students in the bachelor of arts in Christian ministry program had to choose a double major, but they can now select from 12 different minors in addition to the seven majors. Additions include minors in apologetics, biblical studies, English, history, humanities, missions, music, organizational leadership, pastoral ministry, preaching, student ministry, and theology.
The addition of the minors will allow students more flexibility and elective hours in their degree programs, which in turn will allow them to focus on multiple areas of interest if they desire.
The change also means that The College at Southeastern can better serve the needs of transfer students, who now will have more flexibility in transferring in credits taken at other undergraduate institutions.
Commenting on the college, its dean, Bruce R. Ashford, said, “We are building a Great Commission college, one that recognizes that we are to live in an intentionally Christian manner in all of life’s various callings — not only in our families and churches but also in the workplace and community.” The Gospel’s relevance, he said, “is not limited to the four walls of a church building but extends to every intellectual and social endeavor of mankind, and it is for this reason that we educate our students not only in theology, but also in the arts, the sciences and the public square.”
In other trustee actions:
— Alvin Reid, professor of evangelism who holds the Bailey Smith Chair of Evangelism, also was named a professor of student ministry. Reid is a student ministry veteran, having mentored dozens of student ministers and written several books about discipleship among high school and college-aged students. Southeastern has student ministry programs at both the graduate and undergraduate level, and Reid will teach in both.
— The board approved the election to the faculty of Benjamin Merkle, associate professor of New Testament and Greek.
— Akin reported to the board the retirement of three longtime professors. R. Logan Carson, distinguished professor of Christian theology, is retiring after a half-century of Gospel ministry and 15 years at Southeastern; Edward Buchanan, senior professor of Christian education, is retiring after a distinguished career at several evangelical seminaries and 16 years at Southeastern; and Gary Galeotti, senior professor of Old Testament, is retiring after more than 30 years of teaching at Southern Baptist schools, the last 17 at Southeastern.
— Four trustees whose terms are ending were recognized for their service to Southeastern and the Southern Baptist Convention: Mark Harris and Jack Fallaw of North Carolina, Kelly Ann Dodson of Pennsylvania and Cindy Province of Missouri.
Jason Hall is director of communications at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.