By Jason Hall
Trustees of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary approved a budget for next year that will not raise tuition for students 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. I am pleased that, despite the economic climate we are faced with, we were able to meet those goals,” said President Daniel Akin, in presenting the budget proposal to the board. “We remain committed to responsible spending and streamlined operations, both now and in the future.”
The total fiscal 2010 budget approved by the trustees at their meeting April 20-21 was $20,237,568, a decrease of 5.2 percent from 2008-2009’s $21,337,680. For the second straight year there were no salary increases 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 that all departments were tasked with cutting their budgets by 10 percent. This way, cost-cutting was spread across the board. There was not any particular initiative or area that was targeted, Hutchinson said.
Board Chairman Ron Cherry thanked the administrative staff for their diligence in submitting a budget that was both fiscally sound and committed to keeping student costs low.
“Our students need all the help they can get right now,” he 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 approve new minors for Southeastern’s undergraduate program, the College at Southeastern. Previously, students in the Bachelor of Art 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 of 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 will now have more flexibility in transferring in credits taken at other undergraduate institutions.
“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,” said Bruce R. Ashford said, dean of the college. “The gospel’s relevance 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 news:
The mission of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping students to serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Southeastern is an institution of higher learning and a Cooperate Program ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention.