Baptist higher education group approves major reorganization

The association of 47 Baptist-affiliated colleges and universities also will relocate to Birmingham, Ala.

By Robert Dilday

A higher education association representing 47 Baptist-affiliated colleges and universities has approved a reorganization plan that reduces the number of paid staff members, cuts it budget nearly in half, reduces dues by 50 percent and relocates its headquarters.

The International Association of Baptist Colleges and Universities, at its annual meeting June 1-3, adopted a set of recommendations from a task force commissioned last year to study the group’s future. It was prompted in part by the retirement plans of the IABCU’s executive and associate directors.

SamfordApproval of the recommendations by the board of directors — made up of presidents and chief academic officers of the member schools — means the IABCU will:

• Delete the paid executive director position. The chair of the board will serve as president and chief officer of the association and the board.

• Employ a paid executive secretary who will work under the direction of the president and perform tasks associated with the current associate director.

• Elect a board officer as treasurer to assist the president in financial oversight.

• Reduce the membership fee structure by approximately 50 percent and reallocate greater resources to the annual meeting and Hester Lecture.

• Relocate its headquarters to Samford University in Birmingham, Ala., from its current Nashville, Tenn., location.

• Continue to publish its magazine, Baptist Educator, maintain an interactive website, a doctoral loan program, a tuition remission program, and a job posting webpage.

Executive director Mike Arrington retired June 6 after six years in the post. Tim Fields, associate director for the past 17 years, will retire after overseeing the association’s move to Samford and the employment of an executive secretary.

Elected as officers for 2014–15 were David Olive, president of Bluefield (Va.) College, as chair/president; Dub Oliver, president of Union University in Jackson, Tenn., as vice president; Mark A. Wyatt, vice president for marketing and communications, California Baptist University in Riverside, Calif., recording secretary; and Jairy C. Hunter Jr., president of Charleston Southern University in Charleston, S.C., as treasurer.

The IABCU’s meeting coincided with its annual Hester Lectures, given this year by church historian Bill Leonard, who discussed Baptist identity in a culture of declining denominational affinity.

“The non-denominationalizing of American religion is a sign of the permanent transition that has continued to characterize church life for at least two decades,” said Leonard, the James and Marilyn Dunn Professor of Baptist Studies and professor of church history at Wake Forest University School of Divinity. “As it extends across the globe we wonder if it is a new reformation or just another ecclesiastical fad.”

He suggested ways Baptist educators can maintain effective Christian higher education in a “non-denominational era.”