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OPINION

Citing funding decline, NOBTS to cut personnel

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NEW ORLEANS (BP)--New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary has announced that in light of the economic recession and a reduction in Cooperative Program funding, the seminary will lay off three professors, ask four professors to shift to part-time status, and eliminate six ministry-based faculty positions, effective Aug. 1.
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New Orleans Seminary President Chuck Kelley made the public announcement in a statement to Baptist Press late Friday, after telling seminary staff and faculty. Earlier, he met personally with the individuals affected by the cuts. The changes will be presented to the seminary trustees at their April 12-13 meeting as a part of the proposed budget for next year.

Following is Kelley's full statement:

"As a result of the ongoing effects of the recession, the decline in Cooperative Program giving, and the recent reduction of projections for expected CP income next year, some difficult personnel decisions are necessary. Our budget and staff had already been slashed -- first after hurricane Katrina, and again in austerity budgets since the beginning of the economic recession. Now the seminary has no alternative but to make faculty personnel cuts. We simply no longer have income sufficient to support our current level of full-time faculty. Therefore, in order to present a balanced budget to our Trustees, with great reluctance and regret, we must reduce the number of full-time faculty, effective August 1, 2011. The changes in next year's budget include laying off three professors, asking four professors to shift to part-time status, and eliminating six ministry-based faculty positions. All of these individuals will be paid full salary through the end of the academic year in July. Although curricular needs may require us to fill a few mission-critical positions, all other open positions will remain vacant for the immediate future.

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"The actions we are taking now are similar to steps already taken in many SBC churches, conventions, and entities. However, seminary communities have more of a family atmosphere than some other ministries. These individuals whose positions are being eliminated are people we love -- our colleagues and friends. We deeply regret having to make this painful move, but economic necessity requires us to do so. We are profoundly grateful to Southern Baptists for their support by continued giving through the Cooperative Program during such difficult times. I encourage the NOBTS family and all Southern Baptists to pray for these families and the thousands of others across the nation who are being affected by this recession.

"This decline in Cooperative Program giving comes as the seminary enrollment is returning to pre-Katrina levels. Last year, we were within 100 students of our highest enrollment in the institution's history. The interest in affordable, accessible theological education remains high, and we will make the necessary adjustments to continue serving those whom God has called. We remain passionately committed to making theological education as accessible as possible to everyone anywhere, so that we can train the next generation of pastors, missionaries, and other ministers to fulfill the Great Commission and impact our world with the gospel of Jesus Christ."

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Compiled by staff of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and Baptist Press.

Copyright (c) 2011 Southern Baptist Convention, Baptist Press www.BPNews.net

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