Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary trustees celebrated the announcement of record enrollment growth and voted to move forward with plans for a student center during their fall meeting, Oct. 17-18 at the Kansas City, Mo., campus.
During his president's report, Jason Allen announced that the seminary's enrollment has doubled in size in less than five years.
The 2010-11 total student enrollment stood at 1,107. This past academic year that number totaled 2,537.
"In the broader world of theological higher education, most schools are plateaued or declining," Allen said. "So, it is not lost on us the unmerited favor God has shown in allowing our enrollment to nearly double in size over these past five years.
"This is simply a remarkable feat for which we give God all the glory," Allen said. "We further realize the great stewardship He has given us in training the next generation of pastors, missionaries and ministry leaders for the church. We do not and cannot take this lightly."
Trustees unanimously approved a recommendation from their executive committee to move forward with plans to construct a student center in the heart of Midwestern's campus.
The proposed two-story center will house a cafeteria, conference rooms, staff offices, bookstore, café and recreation areas for family use, including a gymnasium/walking track, racquetball courts and fitness rooms.
"The vote to move forward with building plans for the Mathena Student Center is an historic one, and with the Lord's blessings we aim to break ground on the project in April 2017," Allen said. "A great deal of planning, discussion and legwork has already gone into the project, but we also realize there is still much to be done in realizing what has been a need for this campus since its inception in 1957."
During the trustees' meeting in April, Allen announced that a $7 million lead gift by Mr. and Mrs. Harold Mathena of Oklahoma City enabled discussions about the new building project to be initiated. While other significant gifts have come in since, Allen noted that there is still a need for supporters to assist with the remaining funding.
"Thanks to the extremely generous gifts we've received from friends and supporters of the seminary like the Mathenas and so many others, we're even able to be having this discussion and making these plans," Allen said. "However, we still have the need for others to come alongside of us to ensure this dream comes to fruition. We're deeply grateful for all those who love and support Midwestern Seminary and we ask for everyone's prayers in the days ahead as this project moves forward."
Trustees authorized the seminary to contract with Pearce Construction of Overland Park, Kan., who managed the school's Spurgeon Library and administrative wing construction and remodeling projects.
"We are grateful to have Pearce Construction on board as managers of this project," Allen said. "They have an outstanding reputation in Kansas City and the surrounding region. They have also proven themselves to Midwestern Seminary in the quality work accomplished on our Spurgeon Library and administrative wing."
In other business, trustees elected Kennette Harder to the faculty as director of library services and associate professor of library information sciences.
Five new trustees were welcomed to the board by chairman Dwight Blankenship: David Meany of Collierville, Tenn.; David Shanks of Fort Worth, Texas; Emmanuel Fontaine of Somerville, Mass.; James Sineath of Indialantic, Fla.; and Jared Bumpers of Springfield, Mo.
Midwestern Seminary's trustee board consists of 35 members and meets biannually in October and April.
T. Patrick Hudson is executive assistant to the president of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.