Southern Baptist Theological Seminary (SBTS) is under renovation process to expand its mission plan of preparing Gospel ministers. A revised master plan was approved by the trustees on October 14 to add classrooms and parking spaces within the next year. Two existing buildings will be reassigned for academic use.
The biggest renovation will be done to Rankin Hall and Levering Gymnasium. Rankin Hall which has the seminary’s child development center will be converted into eight classroom facilities for Boyce College, Southern’s undergraduate school and also a 76-year-old Levering Gymnasium will be converted into two high-technology classrooms in year 2004 each seating 160.
"The moves reflect a concentration on our core assignment," he said. "We are forced by enrollment gains to make difficult choices and must look to other options for childcare needs. We are very concerned for the well-being of the children and families currently using the child development center. We will work with staff and families over the next several months to develop a transition plan."
Besides the renovation of Rankin Hall and Levering Gymnasium, parking capacity will increase with the addition of 136 spaces in 2004 and an additional 86 in 2005; twenty-four residential units will be added to Fuller Hall in 2005, along with cosmetic improvements, a sprinkler system and other amenities; Alumni Memorial Chapel will upgrade more in technology; sprinkler systems will be installed in Carver and Mullins halls - Mullins also will receive a cosmetic renovation; Boyce Library will receive improvements including high-density book shelving and floor-by-floor refurbishing; and Village Manor Apartments will be sold in 2004 and become a private entity – the renovated apartments will be available for students and maintain it as a low-income facility.
Mohler described the master plan as only the beginning of changes within the seminary for continuing growth. He believes the changes will not only allow more students to gain benefit from the seminary but also will influence Southern’s expansion on its stewardship, in the way it uses campus space.
The master plan has been constructed at the right time to meet the demand of ministers as the number of ministers that churches are seeking from Southern Seminary is exceeding the number of graduates.
"We've had the opportunity over the last several years, in a number of very different ways, to make certain we are doing what the churches want us to do," Mohler said.
"But the proof is always in the pulpit. And the good news is that churches demand our graduates. We have no trouble placing our graduates. We have more requests for our graduates than we yet have graduates.
"The time is short. We need to do everything possible to equip those who are currently studying at Southern Seminary to be readied in every way that we can possibly make possible for them to go out in the churches to be faithful servants of the Word and under-shepherds of the flock."
Southern Seminary's enrollment exceeds 3,500, including more than 600 students at Boyce College.