Balanced budget and enrollment up, seminary reports at Fall 2011 trustee meeting

Communications Staff — October 14, 2011

The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary announced a balanced budget and increased enrollment at the board of trustees meeting, Oct. 11, 2011. Also, at the meeting, R. Albert Mohler Jr., SBTS president, briefed the board about changing cultural contexts.

The financial board reported on adjustments the seminary made in order to balance the 2010-2011 budget. In light of economic challenges, the seminary recognized a decrease in revenue from primary sources, most importantly, the Southern Baptist Convention’s Cooperative Program. As a result, the seminary reduced and contained spending and met the budget approved by trustees, with revenues slightly exceeding expenses of $33.7 million for the fiscal year.

Crediting the hard work of the office of institutional advancement, Dan Dumas, senior vice president for institutional administration, noted the seminary received $4.5 million in total gifts, nearly doubling the amount from the previous year.

Trustees also heard a report indicating an improvement in new student enrollment.  The seminary saw a 14-percent increase in new students this fall compared to last year. Boyce College, the undergraduate arm of SBTS, saw a 21-percent increase.

Further, the board voted unanimously to move forward with a new writing program. Because of the forthcoming reaccreditation cycle in 2012-2013, the seminary will develop a quality enhancement plan aimed to improve writing among the student body. The program will be implemented across the curriculum within the School of Theology, Mohler told the board.

Following the discussion of business items, Mohler addressed the board about urbanization and immigration as well as other developments expected in the next 10 years and how these issues affect the seminary and Southern Baptist Convention churches.

“One of the biggest human trajectories in the contemporary time is urbanization, and this urbanization is often working out in ways we often don’t recognize,” Mohler said.

By 2050, Mohler noted, projected figures show that 75 percent of the world’s population will live in cities. China, for instance, will be home to more than 200 cities that have a population of one million people or more by this point in time. In addition to the vast urbanization of the world’s population, Mohler noted that immigration presents a challenge for the Christian church. People groups migrating to cities do not assimilate into culture but rather form their own enclaves in which they maintain their own respective cultures. This will present missiologists and church planters with the task of formulating new methods for reaching people groups making up these enclaves.

Furthermore, Mohler expressed these trends affect every person in the room listening to his address to the board.

“We’re going to have to learn how to say thanks to God for what has been and learn how to say before God, ‘This is what we’re going to have to see and know and do now’,” he said. “That’s not going to be easy for Southern Baptists. That’s not easy for our mission force, and it’s certainly not easy for our churches. It certainly speaks in terms of some of these issues to how we’re going to have to train a generation of young pastors, church planters and missionaries who are going know how to look at these issues and figure out how to be faithful in leading amongst them.”

Also, at the meeting, trustees prayed over each of the seminary’s deans with an emphasis on recently appointed deans, Zane Pratt and Dan DeWitt. Pratt is dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism, and DeWitt is the dean of Boyce College.

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