B. H. Carroll Theological Institute and East Texas Baptist University announce merger
Move will preserve seminary’s name; combined effort will increase accredited master’s programs and establish PhD at ETBU
IRVING, Texas (Feb. 6, 2023) — The presidents of B. H. Carroll Theological Institute in Irving and East Texas Baptist University in Marshall announced Feb. 6 that the institutions’ boards have each approved resolutions authorizing an exclusive agreement to merge the administrative and academic operations of B. H. Carroll into ETBU.
A letter of intent, signed by B. H. Carroll President Gene Wilkes and ETBU President J. Blair Blackburn, sets forth the terms and conditions of the merger, as well as the timeline for its completion.
On or before January 31, 2025, B. H. Carroll will become a new school of ETBU known as “B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary at East Texas Baptist University” and will continue to offer graduate theological education through its accredited master’s and doctoral degree programs. Until the merger is final, B. H. Carroll will continue to operate independently, but in close collaboration with ETBU’s administration. B. H. Carroll will begin operating as “B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary” immediately, dropping the descriptor “Institute” to pave the way for the completion of the merger.
Students currently enrolled at B. H. Carroll will not experience any disruption in their degree programs. ETBU has also pledged a robust effort to provide employment opportunities for B. H. Carroll’s employees.
Wilkes said he was enthusiastic about the merger, primarily because of the institutional strength of ETBU and his confidence in ETBU’s commitment to maintaining the mission and legacy of the institution he leads.
“The missions of B. H. Carroll and ETBU are already very similar. We are a fit because we are both concerned with teaching ministers, chaplains, counselors, educators and lay people for service in the diverse and global ministries of Christ’s church. Our spirits are the same. We are interested in the growth of God’s Kingdom, faithfulness to His word, loving God’s people in the church, and bringing the lost to Christ. We will continue to operate this way when we join ETBU,” Wilkes said.
Blackburn also expressed excitement and said the presence of B. H. Carroll’s faculty and programs will enhance the educational offerings of ETBU both on campus and online.
“We are excited to partner with the leadership and faculty of B.H. Carroll Theological Institute as we unite in our Christ-centered calling through graduate theological education,” Blackburn said. “The opportunity to educate, equip, and serve Carroll and ETBU students will extend the institutions’ great legacies of preparing students for the gospel ministry and will expand our Kingdom impact. Since ETBU was founded as the College of Marshall in 1912, the school has been preparing students to advance the Kingdom of God through the local church and on the mission field. Carroll is known for producing biblical scholars who faithfully love and serve the church, and this commitment will continue through B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary at East Texas Baptist University. I look forward to working with President Gene Wilkes and faculty leaders as we take the next steps in our educational partnership.”
According to Wilkes and Blackburn, the merger agreement sets the stage for a series of reviews and approvals by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) and the Association of Theological Schools (ATS). Over the next several months, the two institutions will continue to address the many outstanding details and develop comprehensive plans to ensure a smooth transition.
The chairs of both school’s boards echoed the hopes expressed by Wilkes and Blackburn. B. H. Carroll Chair Dr. Leon Leach said B. H. Carroll’s vision since its founding in 2004 has been to offer affordable, accessible, achievable, and accredited theological education. “This merger of the two institutions connects B. H. Carroll with a university with a similar vision, a rich history, and a kindred desire to prepare students for service in the church,” he said.
James Webb, chair of ETBU’s Board of Trustees, shared his enthusiasm for the merger opportunity, “East Texas Baptist University and B. H. Carroll Theological Institute have the same mission to equip Christian servant leaders to follow their calling to God and humanity; the opportunity for greater Kingdom impact can be achieved through a strategic educational and ministry partnership to fulfill the Great Commission.”
The joining of the two institutions enables B.H. Carroll students to access resources including financial aid, additional scholarship opportunities, and student services. Upon approval of the merger, East Texas Baptist University will become a doctoral degree granting institution.
“This partnership is less of a new merger and more of a family reunion,” Dr. Tommy Sanders, ETBU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs said. “The founding faculty members of Carroll had strong ties and history with the Baptist General Convention of Texas and the wider world of Baptists. We share educational, theological, and denominational heritage. I am thrilled to see these leaders reunite around the common goals of Texas Baptists.”
B. H. Carroll will provide regular updates on the merger at www.bhcarroll.edu/etbumerger.
You can read more about the merger here:
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Why did B. H. Carroll Theological Institute seek to merge with East Texas Baptist University?
B. H. Carroll Theological Institute was founded in 2004 as an independent seminary offering theological education online and within local churches. The independent model has worked well for B.H. Carroll, allowing the Institute to create long-lasting relationships inside and outside of Baptist life. The Institute’s success was made possible by donors who supported the vision of Carroll’s founders. As a result, B.H. Carroll is today as strong financially as it has ever been.
Both B. H. Carroll and East Texas Baptist University believe that being good stewards of what the Lord has built means we must look to the future and decide how to position B. H. Carroll for its next generation of growth and service. America’s religious landscape has changed, and the number of Christian schools merging with partners or closing has accelerated. On some occasions, these partnerships are strategic. In others, they are born out of necessity. Our partnership with ETBU is strategic. It will allow B. H. Carroll to have a larger role in the life of Texas Baptists, Southern Baptists, and like-minded evangelical denominations, while preserving our close relationships with supportive churches. It will also grow ETBU, a legacy institution of Baptists in Texas, adding masters and doctoral degree programs accredited by the Association of Theological Schools.
What happens to the B. H. Carroll name after the merger?
B. H. Carroll Theological Institute will begin operating under the name “B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary,” effective immediately (pending notifications to the appropriate legal authorities). After the official merger, B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary will retain its identity and stand as one of the eight academic schools/divisions of East Texas Baptist University, where all graduate theological education programs will be offered.
Will B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary full-time faculty teach at East Texas Baptist University after the merger?
In order to provide for the continuity of leadership and instruction, ETBU intends to retain all full-time faculty from B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary. B.H. Carroll full-time faculty will become a part of the instructional faculty at the institution upon completion of the merger.
How will the two governing bodies relate following an approved merger?
The Board of Trustees of East Texas Baptist University will be the governing body for the merged institutions. B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary at East Texas Baptist University will have a dedicated Board of Advisors. ETBU will work to incorporate Trustees from the current and past B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary Board of Governors onto the ETBU Board of Trustees.
Will the B.H. Carroll Theological Seminary offices remain in their current location?
Until the merger is officially approved, B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary will continue to operate as an independent organization. B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary will use the offices in the current location under its present facility lease agreement.
What legal requirements are entailed with such a merger, including charter changes or other state or accreditation approvals?
ETBU and B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary will work cooperatively to complete substantive change prospectuses for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission (SACSC) on Colleges and Association of Theological Schools (ATS). In the transition, both institutions will identify appropriate steps for approval and notification with other organizations such as the Association of Biblical Higher Education, National Council for State Authorization and Reciprocity, Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), and the Department of Education.
How would the President of B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary relate to East Texas Baptist University?
President Gene Wilkes will continue to serve as President of B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary and will lead the institution’s ongoing operations until the merger is approved and completed. Upon approval of the merger, President Gene Wilkes will be appointed Dean of B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary at East Texas Baptist University.
What approvals must be made with both school’s accrediting agency, as well as the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board?
The general timeline is that curriculum and administrative proposals will be finalized by May 2023, and the proposals for SACSCOC and ATS will be completed and submitted by August 25, 2023. Documentation for SACSCOC onsite visit will be completed by January 31, 2024. The final agreement and merger of B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary will occur during the window of September 2024 and January 2025. The complete merger of all operations will occur by fiscal year June 1, 2025.
What would be done to assure the continuity/integrity of B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary & its mission?
Both SACSCOC and ATS begin their standards of accreditation with statements related to integrity. Both bodies require that all curricular and support programs align and proceed from the institution’s mission statement. Given the similarity of the two mission statements, it is not difficult to see from the beginning that these institutions mirror each other.
Mission of B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary
B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary is a graduate-level community of faith and learning, dedicated to equipping men and women called to serve Christ in the diverse and global ministries of His church.
Mission of East Texas Baptist University
As a Christ-centered institution, East Texas Baptist University educates students by integrating biblical faith and learning to develop mind, body, and soul through community engagement to prepare graduates to be Christian servant leaders in their calling to God and humanity.
The mission of B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary will continue to be as described above given its unique graduate theological education assignment within the greater institutional context.
What other enhancements would accrue to B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary through this relationship with ETBU?
Students from B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary will have the added opportunity to pursue Federal Student Financial Aid through the U.S. Department of Education and enhanced offerings of ministerial scholarships in addition to the current scholarship and grant provisions of B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary. As a University, students will also have access to academic support services, campus student engagement, NCAA and club sporting events, and student support services like counseling services, health services, and career planning and development. The merger of the two institutions will also bring a stronger portfolio of library resources to graduate and doctoral students.
What library enhancements would be available through a merger with ETBU?
ETBU digital resources will be an enhancement of the B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary digital library with the opportunity to have access to traditional print resources, eBooks, dissertations, full-text journals, online newspapers, magazine, streaming audio, and streaming video. Print and eBook collections are searchable through the library’s robust SIRSI Dynix Enterprise online catalog and integrated library system. Students can search across the library collection using the library’s EBSCO Discovery Service. Items not available through the Jarrett Library collections are accessible via OCLC interlibrary loan services via email or postal delivery directly to the student’s home address. Additionally, the Jarrett Library participates in the TexShare card program allowing students to borrow materials directly from over five hundred library collections across the state of Texas.
Research assistance is provided to distance students via Zoom video conference, email, phone, and online chat by faculty librarians and staff. These services are available 88.5 hours the library is open during the regular fall and spring semesters and 40-60 hours during other terms. At the graduate level, librarians work with faculty to create course specific research guides to provide students with relevant items from the library collection and tutorials for accessing resources. Faculty may request librarian-led information literacy instructional sessions to equip students with 21st century information literacy skills needed for graduate and doctoral-level research.
Are digital Spanish resources available? The Jarrett Library provides access to more than 106,000 Spanish language eBooks with approximately 4,000 of those items classified within the subject of religion.
Are digital theological collections available? The Jarrett Library provides access to digital theological collections including ATLA Religion Database with ATLASERIALS, Biblical Archaeological Society Archives, JSTOR, Ministry Matters, Oxford Handbooks: Religion, EBSCO Religion & Philosophy collection, Gale Religion & Philosophy collection, Religious & Theological Abstracts, and Southern Baptist Periodicals Index.
How will B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary students be impacted? Are they able to graduate in the degree program in which they enrolled?
Each institution will develop a plan for every student to ensure they will have the opportunity to complete the degree they have selected prior to the official merger and after that merger. These mapping out processes and plans are a critical part of the substantive change prospectus with SACSCOC and ATS. Students who graduate after the merger is completed will graduate from B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary at East Texas Baptist University in the identified and approved degree program. Spring 2025 will be the first commencement of the merged institutions on ETBU’s main campus.
Will the delivery of courses change?
Which institution will issue my degree?
B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary will continue to operate independently until the merger is complete. If a student graduates prior to the finalization of the merger, the degree will be awarded by B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary. If a student graduates following the approval of the merger, the degree will be awarded by B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary at East Texas Baptist University.
How will the merger impact ETBU students at the University?
Upon completion of the merger, ETBU’s graduate theological and ministry programs will be housed in B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary at East Texas Baptist University. ETBU undergraduate Christian Ministry courses and programs will remain under the ETBU School of Christian Studies and Humanities.
How will the costs of attending B.H. Carroll be impacted?
B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary will continue to operate independently until the merger is complete, and current Carroll students will incur no additional expenses related to the merger. Once the merger is finalized, students attending B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary at East Texas Baptist University will pay the required tuition as approved by the Board of Trustees of East Texas Baptist University. Graduate tuition at East Texas Baptist University is currently comparable to tuition at B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary. As has been the commitment of ETBU and its Board of Trustees, ETBU will continue to work diligently in making graduate theological education at B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary as affordable as possible. Following the merger, Federal Student Financial Aid and scholarships not previously available to B. H. Carroll students will be offered to Seminary students.
How will the Marsh Center for Chaplain Studies be affected during and after the merger?
The Gerald E. Marsh Center for Chaplain Studies was founded at B. H. Carroll Theological Institute to provide collaborative opportunities for the development and sharing of master’s and doctoral curricula which address the basic and advanced chaplaincy skills and competencies necessary to meet the demand of the fastest growing field of ministry in America. The Marsh Center has been collaborative with other denominations and faith groups in researching issues and developing solutions to chaplain ministry in the military, health care, sports, corporate, and other settings.
Following the merger of B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary into ETBU, that mission will continue. There are several benefits anticipated for the Marsh Center, including greater visibility, potential agreements with regional healthcare systems for training, the opportunity to recruit greater numbers of students for the Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry in Chaplain Ministries, and the opportunity to explore elective chaplaincy curricula for counseling students. Dr. Jim Browning, who leads the Marsh Center, will continue to serve as director and lead its collaborative efforts.
How will the B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary endowment be used moving forward?
B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary will operate independently until the merger is complete, and endowment funds from B. H. Carroll Seminary will continue to be used for the purposes for which they were given to B. H. Carroll. Once the merger is finalized, the endowed gifts will transfer ownership to B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary at East Texas Baptist University, and the donor intent and designation of the gift will remain intact. The investments of the endowments will then be managed by East Texas Baptist University and will be distributed in accordance with the donor’s gift agreement for B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary and under East Texas Baptist University’s policies.
How does this merger impact B. H. Carroll Theological Institute alumni?
Once the merger is finalized, alumni from B. H. Carroll Theological Institute and B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary will continue to be recognized as alumni of B. H. Carroll and will receive communication from B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary and East Texas Baptist University. Students who graduate from B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary at East Texas Baptist University will also be considered alumni of East Texas Baptist University. Following the merger, graduates of B. H. Carroll Theological Institute and B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary may request a new diploma from ETBU, which will display the original degree earned under B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary at East Texas Baptist University.
Once the merger is complete, how do we continue to support B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary?
Alumni and donors of B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary are encouraged to support the institution’s mission and ongoing operations. Following the merger, designated gifts will be used to support B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary at East Texas Baptist University according to the donor’s intent. Gifts given to B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary at East Texas Baptist University will directly support the students and ongoing operations of B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary. Scholarships for B. H. Carroll students will remain a top priority. Donors, now and in the future, can select the B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary academic program or student scholarship they desire to support and be assured that the gift will be used for the purpose they have intended and designated.
How will fundraising be coordinated?
B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary will continue to operate independently until the merger is complete. Fundraising is a vital component that sustains and advances the ongoing ministry of B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary. Once the merger is complete, separate and dedicated fundraising for B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary at East Texas Baptist University will remain a necessity in order to ensure that theological education can be offered at a reasonable cost. All advancement programs and activities will be coordinated with ETBU and B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary leadership.
Do you have more questions?
We’ve created a special email address for students, faculty, staff, and supporters to email questions to the merger team. We pledge to answer all questions in a timely manner and with as complete an answer as we can provide at the time. Please feel free to email us at email@example.com.