During the trustees' April meeting each year, the board undertakes a thorough evaluation of the president's performance in the previous year. As with all personnel discussions, the discussion takes place in executive session and a brief statement about the evaluation is read into the public record.
Trustee chairman David Cranford, pastor of First Baptist Church in Ponchatoula, La., read the following presidential evaluation statement for the April 17 meeting's minutes:
"We move that the board affirm Dr. Kelley for 17 years of distinguished and visionary leadership as president." The motion of affirmation was greeted with applause from the entire board.
This year, Cranford said, the board wanted to call special attention to Kelley's leadership over the past 17 years and release additional information regarding their evaluation.
The board expressed thankfulness for the way Kelley has led during the current time of dramatic changes in theological education. Trustees noted the growth experienced in the seminary's enrollment and the financial stability NOBTS has enjoyed under Kelley's leadership. Trustees also recognized the contributions made by Provost Steve Lemke and Clay Corvin, vice president for business affairs.
"We are thankful for Dr. Kelley's visionary leadership," Cranford said on behalf of the board. "Dr. Kelley understands the complexities of modern theological education and understands the changes that are required for the future viability of theological education.
"The board is most thankful for Dr. Kelley's vision for making theological education accessible to all people," Cranford continued, "and the way he has been a trailblazer in accessible theological education. Dr. Steve Lemke has led the faculty to offer a cafeteria-approach of multiple educational delivery systems to accomplish Dr. Kelley's vision."
Following the evaluation process, the board pointed out key milestones the seminary experienced in 2012 as a reason for the special affirmation. In many of NOBTS' individual programs, 2012 was a record year. The seminary experienced its largest enrollment in the master of divinity program in its 96-year history. The 2013 master of divinity enrollment already has exceeded last year's record total. The NOBTS professional doctoral program also set an enrollment record in 2012 and the spring and fall graduating classes were the largest in seminary history.
The board also commended Kelley's leadership in the area of finances. In the midst of the worldwide recession, Cranford said Kelley provided steady direction which kept educational costs down for students and kept the seminary financially stable and viable.
"We are grateful for Dr. Kelley's leadership in keeping the seminary's finances 'in the black,'" Cranford said. "Through God's providence and His use of the financial genius of Mr. Clay Corvin, NOBTS has been able to operate on a shoestring budget for many, many years. We're grateful that we have been able to keep our theological education among the most affordable in the nation and continue to offer cutting-edge theological education."
Cranford said the trustees "look forward to what God is going to do in the future with this institution in preparing God-called men and women to spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth. It is a great privilege to be part of an institution that has graduates serving at all times and all places across the face of the globe. We are grateful for leadership that has kept us on the forefront of those changes that have been made, are being made and will be made in the future."
Gary D. Myers is director of public relations at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (www.nobts.edu).
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