Trustees approve fully online degree, address tenure program
FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – The Board of Trustees at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary approved a fully online master’s degree, agreed in principle to cease the institution’s tenure program, and elected new officers during their spring meeting on campus, April 3. Additionally, they approved faculty promotions and a proposed budget.
Fully Online Master’s Degree
Trustees approved the new 36-hour Master of Theological Studies degree, which will launch this summer and becomes the shortest fully online master’s degree among Southern Baptist seminaries. Seminary administrators and trustees said the fully accredited degree combines the rigorous academic content that Southwestern is known for with the accessibility and affordability those in ministry often need.
Administrators also noted one unique aspect of the degree is that the courses are predominately taught by full-time faculty members, rather than adjunct professors. Of the courses in the Master of Theological Studies, 92 percent of the online courses are taught by elected faculty and former full-time faculty members.
Twelve three-hour courses make up the MTS, including classes in hermeneutics, Old Testament, New Testament, church history, Baptist heritage, systematic theology, apologetics, and ethics. As an academic degree, the program is not meant to replace the comprehensive Master of Divinity and Master of Arts in Christian Education degrees, which provide further ministry training and still require a portion of credit hours to be completed on campus. These programs provide additional coursework in biblical languages, preaching, pastoral ministry, evangelism, missions, and electives.
President Paige Patterson recommended that the board eliminate the use of tenure. Following Patterson’s recommendation, Charles E. (Eddie) Miller, a board member from Nevada and director of missions for the Sierra Baptist Association in Reno, Nev., made a motion, which stated, “Believing that the majority of trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary agree in principle with the cessation of tenure for this institution, I move that the Bylaws and Policies Committee bring revisions to cease future extension of tenure to the fall 2013 trustee meeting.”
Trustees unanimously approved the motion.
“Believing that the majority of trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary agree in principle with the cessation of tenure for this institution, I move that the Bylaws and Policies Committee bring revisions to cease future extension of tenure to the fall 2013 trustee meeting.” Charles E. (Eddie) Miller, Reno, Nev.
Trustees elected three new officers during the board meeting. Steven M. James, pastor of Trinity Baptist Church in Lake Charles, La., was elected chairman. Miles F. (Mike) Boyd, pastor of Wallace Memorial Baptist Church in Knoxville, Tenn., was elected vice chairman. John S. Brunson, an at-large trustee from Houston, Texas, was elected secretary.
Trustees approved seven faculty promotions, effective Aug. 1, 2013:
- Miles Mullin was promoted from assistant professor to associate professor of church history.
- Ben Phillips was promoted from assistant professor to associate professor of systematic theology.
- Greg Smith was promoted from assistant professor to associate professor of Bible.
- Gerardo Alfaro was promoted from associate professor to professor of systematic theology.
- Berry Driver was promoted from associate professor to professor of systematic theology.
- Tony Maalouf was promoted from associate professor to professor of missions.
- Steven Ortiz was promoted from associate professor to professor of archaeology and biblical backgrounds.
The trustees approved a budget for the coming fiscal year 2013-2014 in the amount of $32.9 million. This represents a decrease from the previous year coming from staff reductions and programs that no longer exists such as the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibition. No increases in tuition or fees for educational programs were made.