Board of Trustees fall meeting celebrates new provost, increased enrollment

On Oct. 12, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) Board of Trustees 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.

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

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 MDiv 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 here and around the world. 

In his presidential report, President Danny 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 the seminary and college. 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 $20.5M goal. These increases are a testimony of God’s grace in the midst of a global crisis. 

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 her book, “Courage for Life,” and founded her global ministry based on the restoration she experienced in her marriage. She has produced numerous books, Bible studies, and leadership curriculum. David White serves as the executive pastor of First Baptist Church in Douglasville, Georgia. Prior to serving as executive pastor, David White was a partner at KPMG LLP in Atlanta, Georgia, 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, the Daniel Akin Preaching Student Aid Fund, and the Tucker Student Aid Fund. The Center for Faith and Culture Endowment will provide financial assistance to the L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture at SEBTS, The Daniel Akin Preaching Student Aid Fund will provide financial assistance to MDiv students in the expository preaching track and The Tucker Student Aid Fund will provide financial assistance for undergraduate students at The College at Southeastern. 

During their fall plenary session, trustees also approved the following:

  • A 12-hour Certificate in Christian ministry for students seeking to gain proficiency in Christian ministry. This can be completed in on-campus, online or hybrid formats.
  • Curriculum revisions for the MDiv in Ministry Leadership to provide a more seamless transition for students in the MA to transfer to the MDiv 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 Drs. Scott Kellum and Keith Harper. Kellum, who serves as professor of New Testament and Greek, will take his sabbatical during the Fall 2021 semester. Harper, who serves as senior professor of Baptist studies, will take his sabbatical from Fall 2021-Spring 2022.
  • To engage 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 who 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 bi-annually during the spring and fall semesters. The next meeting will take place April 12-13, 2021.

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