Seminary tightens belt due to increased costs of operation

Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary announced Nov. 7 that it will leave some vacant positions unfilled and layoff some full-time staff because of increased costs of higher education, utilities and health care.

The combination of frozen jobs and layoff affect about 30 full-time positions at the seminary, Charles Patrick, Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Communications at the school, said in a news release dated Nov. 7. Currently, Southwestern has 865 employees, 300 full-time and 565 part-time.

Seminary President Paige Patterson said in the news release that in the 42 years he has served Southern Baptists as president of its schools, not a day of it has been free from concerns about funding.

“The exorbitant cost of health care is the latest dilemma,” Patterson said. “Consequently, we have to tighten our belt. These adjustments are personally excruciatingly painful and sad to me. But I have had no choice to maintain the financial integrity of the school.”

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Health care now accounts for 10 percent of Southwestern’s operating budget, the school said in the release, and it has seen a cumulative increase of 42 percent over the past three years.

The seminary said it made the decision to extend health care beyond the minimum required coverage to include the employee, spouse and dependents because the school believes that the family is a critical institution established by God, and Southwestern places a high value on the family.

Other cost cutting measure included what the release labeled “low-hanging fruit adjustments” such as, moving breakfast from two locations to one in dining services; realizing that the majority of students’ workflow is completely digital now and cutting the copy center hours in half; and decreasing the fleet of vehicles used to maintain the 200=plus acre Fort Worth campus.

The news release said that “many have asked about the perceived dichotomy of making budget adjustments that affect staff positions while concomitantly embarking on campus building projects.”

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Donors provided funds specifically designated for the construction and renovation of buildings and designated funds cannot be used for operating the seminary, the news release said.