Association Of Theological Schools Accredits Truett Seminary

Sept. 10, 2002

by Lori Scott Fogleman

After several years of intensive planning, preparation and self-study, Baylor University's George W. Truett Theological Seminary has earned accreditation from the Association of Theological Schools (ATS).

The ATS Commission on Accrediting voted to approve the status change during its May meeting in Pittsburgh and notified Truett Seminary Dean Paul W. Powell on June 7. The initial accreditation, which will be in effect through spring 2007, included the approval of Truett's master of divinity program and the preliminary approval of the doctor of ministry program.

Through its affiliation with Baylor, Truett Seminary is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. With the ATS accreditation, the seminary will be able to continue the development of its academic programs and become eligible for major ATS-sponsored grants. Additionally, Truett graduates will be accepted by graduate programs at other ATS-accredited institutions.

The ATS approval also serves as recognition of Truett's quality by peer institutions, said Dr. David E. Garland, associate dean for academic affairs and professor of Christian scriptures. Garland also served as director of the seminary's two-year self-study.

"While our self-study was incredibly hard work, it proved to be a most gratifying experience for us," Garland said. "The report from the site team and their effusive oral commendations caught us by surprise. We knew that we were doing good work but were heartened to have that confirmed by a rigorous examination by our peers.

"I am grateful to President Sloan and the founding faculty for their creative, original vision for seminary education and for all the faculty who work so hard to maintain and enhance it. I hope that all the generous supporters of Truett also will be gratified by this endorsement and that it will validate their trust in the seminary they helped launch," he added.

The accreditation process included an on-site evaluation by the commission, which visited the Baylor campus late last spring. The commission also reviewed the seminary's self-study before approving accreditation.

Among the "distinctive" strengths cited by the ATS commission were an "attractive and serviceable physical plant," "a supportive university community" and "competent, caring and committed faculty, who participate in the distinctive character of the seminary." The commission also referred to Truett's "well-designed MDiv curriculum," with attention given to the seminary's mentoring program, built-in spiritual formation program and the opportunities for joint degree programs with Baylor.

During the initial period of accreditation, the commission encouraged Truett to hire a theological librarian and to monitor growth in enrollment and placement opportunities.

"After several days of studying every aspect of Truett Seminary and talking to students, faculty, regents and members of Truett's advisory board, the commission concluded, 'This is obviously the work of God,'" Powell said. "Their only fear was that our 'growth would outstrip our resources,' but through good stewardship, we will take great care that that does not happen."

The Association of Theological Schools is recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education for the accreditation and pre-accreditation of freestanding theological schools, as well as schools affiliated with larger institutions, that offer graduate professional education for ministry and graduate study of theology. ATS member schools conduct post-baccalaureate degree programs designed to prepare persons for a wide variety of positions of ministerial leadership and teaching and research in the theological disciplines.

ATS maintains three membership categories: associate, candidate and accredited. Accredited members are institutions that, after review on the basis of ATS standards, are voted by the ATS Commission on Accrediting into accredited membership. Truett Seminary was named as associate member in June 1998 and was granted candidate status in February 2000.

Truett Seminary began classes on Aug. 31, 1994, at First Baptist Church of Waco with 51 students enrolled. Since then, the seminary has conferred master of divinity degrees on more than 160 graduates, while also offering a doctor of ministry degree, a joint master of divinity/master of music degree in conjunction with Baylor's School of Music, and a joint master of divinity/master of social work degree - the only one of its kind at U.S. seminaries - in conjunction with the School of Social Work.

Truett Seminary students began classes in January at the new 64,000-square-foot Baugh-Reynolds Campus, located on the northwest side of the Baylor campus. More than 360 students are enrolled in fall 2002 classes and programs led by 17 full-time faculty members.

For more information, contact Truett Seminary at (254) 710-3755 or online at www.truettseminary.net.

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