Connected Campus

3.3.1 Institutional Effectiveness

 

The institution identifies expected outcomes, assesses the extent to which it achieves these outcomes, and provides evidence of improvement based on analysis of the results in each of the following areas: (Institutional effectiveness)

 

            3.3.1.1 educational programs, to include student learning outcomes

            3.3.1.2 administrative support services

            3.3.1.3 academic and student support services

            3.3.1.4 research within its mission, if appropriate

            3.3.1.5 community/public service within its mission, if appropriate

 

_X_  Compliance           ___  Partial Compliance          ___  Non-Compliance

 

Narrative

 

Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary (MABTS) identifies expected outcomes, assesses the achievement of those outcomes, and gives evidence of improvement based upon results within the institutional effectiveness process. This process is built upon its philosophy of planning, which results in the school’s institutional effectiveness plan, which culminates in the long-range plan that enables the school to fulfill its mission, thus closing the institutional effectiveness loop.

 

MABTS Philosophy of Planning

 

The basis of MABTS’s philosophy of planning is best comprehended and rooted in the school’s history and mission. Once understood, institutional effectiveness in the context of the school’s mission, the measurable expected results based upon the mission, the assessment tools based upon the measurable expected results, the actual results, and the actions taken for future effectiveness serve as a basis for future annual and long range planning.

 

This philosophy of assessment is based upon the MABTS Strategic Plan model [1], which assumes that assessment will be more effective if developed and monitored by the academic and administrative departmental units providing the instruction or service. Students (residential or distance), faculty, staff, and graduates give input concerning educational programs and administrative and educational support services.

 

History of the School. Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary began in the fall of 1971 as “The School of the Prophets.” A charter was granted by the State of Louisiana. The purpose of the school was to provide theological education for those whom God called to vocational Christian service. By action of the Board of Trustees, the location of the school was changed to Little Rock, Arkansas and the name was changed to Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary. A charter was granted by the State of Arkansas in March 1972; and the first session of classes began with Founders’ Days, August 23-25, 1972. Four professors offered classes to 28 students. The seminary conducted classes for three years in the facilities of Olivet Baptist Church, Little Rock, Arkansas. In 1975, the seminary negotiated the purchase of the Reformed Jewish Temple and Hebrew School located at 1255 Poplar Avenue in Memphis, Tennessee. The seminary conducted classes during the 1975-76 school term in Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, Tennessee. The purchase of the Temple and Hebrew School was finalized in August 1976, and the seminary moved into the new debt-free facilities in October 1976. In 1982, the seminary purchased the adjoining property at 1257 Poplar, which housed the Ora Byram Allison Memorial Library and an administration building.

 

In 1994, friends of the seminary made available an eight-acre campus in Germantown, Tennessee. The seminary renovated the facilities and in January 1996 moved to the new campus debt free. The campus provided classrooms, offices, library, the chapel, a cafeteria, a gym, bookstore, childcare facilities, lounges, and resource rooms all under one roof. The campus provided a pleasant, welcoming environment for learning. The move to the Germantown campus allowed the seminary to expand its course offerings into the evenings and provide more opportunities for the wives of students to enroll in classes and be involved in seminary life.

 

In 1996, a group of concerned and committed men formed the Mid-America Student Housing Foundation for the purpose of providing student housing. A dear friend of the seminary donated thirty-two acres in Olive Branch, Mississippi, for housing only fifteen minutes from the seminary. The ninety-six units of student housing opened in August 1998.

 

In fall 2003, Mid-America’s next-door neighbor, Methodist Hospital, approached the seminary with an offer to purchase the Germantown campus. After numerous negotiations, Methodist Hospital purchased the campus in December of that year while allowing Mid-America to use the campus for up to four years, rent free, until a new campus could be built. In June 2004, the people of Bellevue Baptist Church, led by their pastor—the late Dr. Adrian Rogers—voted to give Mid-America thirty-five acres of land across Appling Road from Bellevue Baptist Church as Mid-America’s new home. Construction began in spring 2005 and was completed in August 2006, in time for Founders’ Days and the beginning of the 2006 fall term. Soon after Mid-America received the gift of land, sixteen additional acres of land was purchased adjacent to the Appling Road property as the site for Mid-America’s student housing. Construction of student housing was conducted concurrently with the campus construction and was also completed by fall 2006.

 

From the beginning of Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary, the administration and faculty have desired to establish a Bible-believing, Bible-preaching, Bible teaching, soul-winning branch campus in the northeastern part of the United States. Since 1983, the seminary has actively pursued this dream. In 1987, the Northeast Branch was approved by the Board of Regents of the State University of New York to offer the Master of Divinity degree. The seminary purchased ten acres in the heart of the Capital District in the State of New York in February 1988, constructed a 15,400 square foot building, and started classes in the fall of 1989. The focus of the Northeast Branch is to train pastors for evangelism and planting Southern Baptist churches throughout this heavily populated and strategic area of America [2].

 

Mission Statement. MABTS has a purpose appropriate to higher education as well as to its own specific educational role. The seminary’s primary purpose is to provide graduate theological training, which is appropriate to higher education. The distinctives of the seminary, including a focus on missions, evangelism, and the Bible, are also reflected in the “Statement of Purpose.” The seminary’s purpose statement addresses all components of institutional purpose found in the Catalog and other documents published by the seminary.

 

The primary components of the institution’s purpose are addressed in the first paragraph of the “Statement of Purpose,” which reads: “Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary is a school whose primary purpose is to provide graduate and undergraduate theological training for effective service in church-related vocations through its main campus and designated branch campuses. Other levels of training also are offered” [3]. The seminary’s purpose represents both the official posture and the practice of the institution. This is reflected in that all appropriate seminary publications reflect accurately the seminary’s purpose. When the official purpose statement was developed at the inception of the seminary, it involved faculty, administrators, and the trustees. Accordingly, it was approved by the Board of Trustees. With the exception of minor technical changes, such as updating the names of the degrees offered, the “Statement of Purpose” has remained virtually constant since its adoption by the Board of Trustees. The statement is reviewed periodically by the faculty, administration, and trustees. Because neither internal changes nor changing responsibilities of the seminary to its constituencies have occurred, the “Statement of Purpose” has undergone little change.

 

That the purpose of the seminary is appropriate to its educational programs and role is evident in the “Statement of Purpose” itself. For instance, the statement notes that the “primary purpose is to provide graduate and undergraduate theological training for effective service in church-related vocations.” Further, while the seminary seeks to expose students to different theological systems, it does so in a wholly evangelical atmosphere. This evangelical emphasis is seen in the seminary’s stance on the Bible, evangelism, and missions.

 

The MABTS Institutional Effectiveness Plan (5 Column Model)

 

The MABTS Institutional Effectiveness Plan consists of five elements:

 

1. its mission,
2. the measurable expected results on which the success of that mission will be judged,
3. the assessment tools that are used to measure results,
4. the actual assessment results, and
5. the actions taken or resources needed to address issues that have surfaced in the

    assessment process.

 

This plan is further developed through the school’s Program Learning Outcomes Assessment Model (PLOAMs) and the Administrative Unit Goals (AUGs) demonstrated in this narrative.

 

As seen in the 2014-15 MABTS Institutional Effectiveness Plan, the seminary has provided evidence of improvements within its educational programs and its administrative and educational support services based on analysis of assessment results. These examples demonstrate significant improvements based upon the results of assessment.

 

The seminary employs a multi-faceted methodology to systematically identify whether the mission of the institution is being accomplished. Processes include both academic (3.3.1.1) and administrative (3.3.1.2-5) assessment tools.

 

Learning Outcome Assessment Tools (3.3.1.1)

  • Program Learning Outcomes Assessment Model (PLOAMs)
  • Course syllabi
  • Student Course Evaluations – Residential and Distance Students
  • Capstone Examination (administered pre/post degree)
  • Evaluation of Faculty by Department Chairperson (based upon Likert Scale and/or narrative data)
  • Evaluation of Chairpersons and Program Directors by the Academic Vice President (based upon Likert Scale and/or narrative data)
  • Evaluation of Vice Presidents by the President (based upon Likert Scale and/or narrative data)
  • Annual Student Survey (based upon Likert Scale and/or narrative data)
  • Annual Student Forum (student input concerning curriculum, campus life, faculty, etc.)
  • Graduate Survey (Graduate input concerning curriculum, campus life, faculty, etc.)

Administrative Assessment Tools (3.3.1.2-5)

  • Administrative Unit Goals model (AUGs)
  • Administrative Staff Evaluations (conducted by administrative supervisors)
  • Evaluation of Directors by Vice Presidents (based upon Likert Scale and/or narrative data)
  • Evaluation of President by Trustees (based upon Likert Scale and/or narrative data)
  • Annual Administrative Survey
  • Annual Administrative Forum

The Strategic Planning Model

 

The seminary realizes that the commitment to annual and long range planning is a good start but a poor finish in the task of assessment. The logical extension of a comprehensive philosophy of planning is a process which is broad-based, multi-faceted, on-going, and self-correcting which “closes the loop” in the praxis of education. The seminary’s planning process is demonstrated in a 5 level model (figure 1):


Figure 1. MABTS Strategic Planning Model

 

Level 1- Individual Planning. In accordance with its planning philosophy, MABTS’s strategic planning begins in August when classes begin. Information is gathered and assessed from class evaluations, surveys, forums, and financial assessment.

 

  • Course Evaluations. Students taking classes for academic credit fill out a Course Evaluation form [4] for each class taken. This Likert Scale data is recorded by the Director of Information Services and the personal comments are recorded by faculty assistants before being sent to the Office of the Academic Vice-President. The information is then sent to the professor, academic department chairpersons, and the Academic Vice President for initial and review. It is then compiled into a report to be reviewed by the Executive Administration Committee during summer planning meetings.
     
  • Surveys and Forums. Each student, staff member, and faculty member fills out a Survey Form [5] and attends seminary-wide forum meetings [6] during March and April. The Likert Scale data and forum comments are recorded by the Director of Information Services and the personal comments are recorded by the faculty assistant's office before being sent to the Office of the Director of Institutional Assessment who then compiles the information and submits it for review by the Executive Administration Committee during summer planning meetings.
     
  • PLOAMs/AUGs. Each program degree coordinator completes PLOAMs that become a basis of the Institutional Assessment Committee Annual Report. Administrative directors complete AUGs that become a basis for the Institutional Assessment Committee Annual Report at level 2 planning.
     
  • Financial Assessment. The Vice-President for Finance and Operations begins the assessment process by distributing a copy of the previous fiscal year’s budget to all budget directors of the seminary in November [7]. After he meets with each director to discuss the next fiscal year’s budget, a new budget worksheet is presented to the EAC before the Trustee Meeting in the spring, when the budget is approved. The Vice-President for Finance also takes an assessment of the campus and notes any improvements needing to be made for the upcoming year.

 

Level 2- Departmental Planning. The seminary’s strategic planning process continues by gathering and assessing information on departmental reviews of faculty and staff, and information reported to the trustees for the spring meeting.

  • Departmental Reviews. Each faculty and staff member is reviewed by his or her immediate supervisor. These performance reviews for faculty [8] and staff [9] are signed by both supervisor and supervisee and then sent to either the Executive Vice President or the Academic Vice President. These reviews are used, in part, as a basis for making decisions on teaching contracts and administrative assignments. They are compiled into a report to be reviewed by the Executive Administration Committee during summer planning meetings.

 

Level 3- Executive Administration Planning. Once departmental planning is complete, each Vice President (except for the Vice President for Finance and Operations who compiles a report for level 4 planning) compiles a report to be reviewed by the Executive Administration before budget planning and finalization of the annual institutional effectiveness plan. This planning serves as a basis for finalizing the next year’s annual budget (Level 4) and the annual report presented to the Trustees (Level 5).

 

  • Academic Vice President. The Academic Vice President collects student class evaluations, faculty departmental reviews, and academic unit strategic plans to be used in budget planning. This is compiled and later used in budget preparation and is included in the annual report.
     
  • Executive Vice President. The Executive Vice President collects information from annual staff forums, surveys, and administrative unit strategic plans to be used in budget planning. This is compiled and later used in budget preparation and is included in the annual report.
     
  • Director of Institutional Assessment. The Director of Institutional Assessment collects information from committees to be used in budget planning. This is compiled and later used in budget preparation and is included in the annual report.

 

Level 4- Budget Planning/Timeline. MABTS’s budgeting processes are described in the 2014-15 MABTS Employee Handbook [10]. Each year, departmental budget directors use assessment results to document requested increases in its budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Coupled with the President’s long-range plan, a 5-year budget and finance projection is also given to the EAC for planning purposes. Assessment results play a role in budget development when the Vice Presidents analyze all department/unit budget requests and make final recommendations to the EAC. A timeline of the budgeting process and finalization of the budget is as follows:

 

  • November 1- EAC meets to discuss driving forces of coming fiscal year’s budget including salaries and benefits and other personnel issues, non-discretionary expenses, critical facility maintenance, etc.
     
  • November 1-December 15- Vice President for Finance and Operations (VPFO) drafts initial broad parameter budget based on driving forces, discussion in EAC meeting on November 1 and other factors. The President and VPFO make initial allocation of Program Expense funds among EAC members.
     
  • January 10- EAC meets to review and discuss initial broad parameter budget and program expense allocations.
     
  • January 15- Instructional meeting for all budget directors. The Business office distributes Budget Request forms, gives instructions for completion and YTD expense information.

    Agenda for meeting:

1) Review the budget request form on which the request will be made and give instructions for completion including any required supplemental documentation.

 

              2) Give instruction that requests are to be made in accordance with objectives and initiatives contained in                     the department’s strategic plan.

 

              3) Give instruction that forms are provided for each employee under the budget director’s supervision for                     input regarding budget needs.
 

              4) Question and answer period.
 

  • January 15-31- Budget directors meet with employees under their supervision and invite input regarding the budget needs for upcoming fiscal year in conjunction with the department’s documented strategic plans.
     
  • January 31- Budget directors return budget packets to the Business Office which serves as a clearing house. Requests are catalogued and packaged for return to the appropriate EAC member.
     
  • February 7- The EAC meets to receive packaged requests for budgets under their supervision. Instructions are given regarding individual meetings with budget directors, allocating program expense funds and deadline for return.
     
  • February 7-21- EAC members meet with individual budget directors to discuss requests, gather necessary information and to allocate program expense funds.
     
  • February 21- Meeting of the EAC to return completed initial program expense allocations by department, discuss shortfalls, unfunded initiatives, use and prioritization of any contingency funds and negotiations for adjustments in budget levels.
     
  • March 1- The EAC recommended budget final draft is completed and mailed to the Board of Trustees.
     
  • Late March- The VPFO presents EAC recommended budget to the Board of Trustees at the annual meeting. The budget is approved or adjusted accordingly.

 

Level 5- Planning Outcomes (Closing the Loop, Part 1). The seminary’s strategic planning process is finalized as the EAC meets, guided by the VPFO, to finalize the budget for the upcoming academic year. Based upon the Long Range Plan, the institutional effectiveness plan of the previous academic year, and the budget for the upcoming year, the EAC revises a five column institutional effectiveness plan before presenting it to the Board of Trustees for approval. The annual seminary-wide institutional effectiveness plan, the budget, and office reports are then presented to the Board of Trustees at their spring meeting. Once approved, the budget and institutional effectiveness plan are implemented and serves as a basis for the strategic planning process for the next academic year, thus, closing the loop in the planning process. The long-range plan devised by the President and the 5-year budget and finance projection produced by the VPFO serve as a compass for future strategic planning.

 

Long Range Plan

 

The Long Range Plan of MABTS is a living document, updated as a part of its ongoing mission, evaluation, program projection, budget projection, and operation (figure 2). Changing needs among the MABTS constituency are also factored into the formulation of the MABTS Long Range Plan. The Board of Trustees of MABTS is a self-perpetuating body who selects the president of the institution and oversees policy and fiduciary matters with regards to the institutions long range planning cycles. The 2014-18 Long Range Plan consists of the following elements:

 

Purpose. The purpose of MABTS is academic training for people who have experienced a call to ministry. The institution focuses on the roles of pastor, church staff leader, and missionary. With each focus area the school teaches (1) the Bible as the verbally inspired Word of God, (2) evangelism training and practice, and (3) cross cultural missions.

 

Academic Programming. Current degree programs accomplish the mission of MABTS. Enrollment growth is projected at three percent each academic year.

 

Faculty Additions. With the outstanding faculty to student class ratio (typically 1 to 14 or less), the current faculty will support projected growth during the next three-year cycle (2015-18). Additional faculty in the areas of New Testament (one), Biblical Counseling (one), and Church History (one) are projected for the following three-year cycle (2015-18).

Figure 2. MABTS Long Range Plan

 

Library. The Ora B. Allison Library houses a 120,000 plus collection with room for expansion. This library collection and improved technological resources continue to keep the library at the center of the seminary's life and work. A twenty percent increase in library holdings (online journals, volumes, etc.) is projected through the 2018 academic year.

 

Development. The Development Office of MABTS has seen the assets of the school grow to forty-two million dollars over the last twenty-seven years. In addition, Mid-America Student Housing, Inc. (MASH) organization currently holds over ten million dollars in assets and equity. MASH assets have been added to the school in the last eighteen years. This equates to an overall increase to fifty-four million dollars in assets. MASH has no outstanding debt.

 

Operational Budget. Because of the high percentage of voluntary donations which contribute to the daily operation of the institution, yearly budget projections are made conservatively. Budget projections are based on historical averages of giving. Also, projections of market-based income from seminary investments and the addition of new donors are taken into account. The next three-year budget plan (2015-18) has been kept flexible, and typically the operational budget increases by two to three percent each fiscal year.

 

Physical Facilities. The summer of 2006 saw the opening of the new campus building for MABTS. This facility includes 130,000 sq. ft. of administrative offices, teaching classrooms, seminar rooms, library, bookstore, cafeteria, and gymnasium. Also, 144 student apartments were built on the fifty-acre site at Interstate 40 and Appling Road. Interstate visibility, the latest teaching technology, and the largely debt free campus have been some of the major benefits of this upgraded facility.

 

Support Staff. The seminary has an outstanding support staff. Professional development training and significant increases in pay and benefits make this area a strength of the school.

 

Auxiliary Organizations. Mid-America Student Housing, Inc. (MASH) corporation legally functions as a separate entity from the seminary. However, the charter of this organization allows it to only be used for the benefit of MABTS.

 

The MABTS National Alumni Association consists of graduates and former students who support the work of the seminary. This organization has dramatically increased its financial support of the seminary and continues to promote the financial needs of the school aggressively. The Alumni Association seeks to market the work of the school to prospective students and potential donors.

 

The Development Council consists of business people who support the school by lending their expertise as needed and promoting the school. This group gives generously to the work of the school and functions as a “friend making” arm of the institution. Council members live throughout the United States and regular promotional meetings are held regionally and in the Memphis area.

 

The Advisory Council consists of pastors, church staff leaders, and missionaries who volunteer their time and energy to promote the school. They perform an invaluable function through personal donations and by leading their churches to support the work of the school.

 

The Ladies' Prayer Fellowship meets monthly to hear updates on MABTS and to pray for the school and the student families. This group generously supports the work of the school and helps the institution by providing an incredible network of friends who promote and pray for the school.

 

MABTS functions in a fraternal relationship with the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). Though not owned or operated by the SBC, MABTS seeks to support the work of the SBC in its academic programming and relationships. Several SBC agencies have partnerships or contractual relationships with MABTS. Typical of these relationships are the following:

 

  • Guidestone Christians Resources of the SBC—this agency manages most of the school’s endowment funds.
     
  • Southern Baptist Foundation—this agency manages a portion of the school’s endowment funds.
     
  • LifeWay Christian Resources of the SBC—this agency has named one of the Christian Education professors as the “J. M. Frost professor of Christian Education.” Lifeway also provides sample products for classroom instruction.
     
  • International Mission Board of the SBC—this agency includes MABTS faculty in its seminary dialogue meetings and uses MABTS personnel for occasional conference leadership.

 

Accomplishing the Mission (Closing the Loop, Part 2)

 

The seminary demonstrates that it is accomplishing its mission by pointing to the following indicators in addition to those noted previously:

 

Service to the Community. Practical Missions data demonstrates student’s service to the community in over sixty-four ministry sites [11]. Each full-time student (four to five courses per semester) must complete two mission assignments per week during the semester. Each part-time student (one to three courses per semester) must complete one mission assignment per week during the semester. A mission assignment consists of approximately one hour of ministry time and normally provides the student with the opportunity to present a gospel witness. Practical mission work is an extension of what the student learns in the classroom. Students are expected to fulfill the biblical command to witness and thus are required to meet mission assignments each week, share their faith, and report on the work completed. This linking of the classroom and the practical aspects of ministry and evangelistic zeal is one of the unique identities of MABTS. The school also hosts the Adrian Rogers Conference on Biblical Preaching, which provides students and community members with access to national leaders in the field of expository preaching, music, education, and ministry. The Alumni and Church Relations department serves the community by helping to place graduating students in positions of community leadership (pastors, church staff, missionaries, teachers, etc.). The Development and Institutional Advancement office serves the community by reaching out to potential donors of the school to help financially support the ongoing mission of the institution.

 

Graduate Surveys. Surveys are mailed to former students after they graduate. This perception data indicates attitudes concerning effectiveness of academic and vocational preparation. These surveys continually demonstrate that the seminary is accomplishing its mission in the eyes of its graduates [12].

 

This systematic review of programs and services, as shown by the processes above, results in continuing improvement and demonstrates that the institution is effectively accomplishing its mission. This accomplishment is based upon identifying expected student learning outcomes within educational programs or expected outcomes within administrative units, assessing whether those outcomes were achieved, and providing evidence of improvement based upon analysis. 

 

Documentation

 

1. MABTS Strategic Plan Model

2. 2014-15 MABTS Catalog, p. 7-8

3. 2014-15 MABTS Catalog, p. 8

4. MABTS Course Evaluation Sheet

5. 2013-14 Survey Form

6. 2013-14 Forum Agendas

7. 2012-13 MABTS Budget

8. Faculty Performance Evaluation

9. Staff Performance Evaluation

10. 2014-15 Employee Handbook, p. 19-20

11. 2014-15 Practical Missions Handbook, p. 17-38

12. Graduate Survey

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