Enrollment Up Again at SFSeminary
April 12, 2012
VIDEO CLIP: News Story from KDLT TV
Sioux Falls Seminary is seeing record enrollment numbers. A near 26% percent increase in total number of students was recorded for the Fall 2011 semester. New totals released on March 1, 2012, show the school's highest number of total students in the last decade for a complete academic year. The total includes 298 unique students that have registered for classes during the 2011-2012 academic year, up 50 individuals from 2010-2011.
Enrollment at Sioux Falls Seminary has remained steady for much of the last decade. However, in the last year, the school has seen a jump in student numbers.
"The word momentum seems to describe our recent enrollment trends," said Nathan Helling, Director of Enrollment at Sioux Falls Seminary. "Momentum is building at Sioux Falls Seminary, and God seems to be doing something in our midst."
Seminary for Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere
Over the last several years, Sioux Falls Seminary has been focused on meeting the changing needs of theological education--often beginning to meet these changing needs by undergoing change themselves. A name change from North American Baptist Seminary to Sioux Falls Seminary in May 2007 showed the seminary's commitment to serving the needs of all churches and denominations in the region. A new technologically-savvy and environmentally-friendly campus was built in 2008-2009 to help deliver seminary education to anyone, anytime, anywhere. An extension program was established in Omaha, NE, in 2011 to bring residential Master of Divinity education to one of the country's largest metropolitan areas without an accredited seminary.
"Sometimes it is hard for educational institutions to change. We have been forward looking and nimble to meet the needs of our students and churches," said Dr. Mike Hagan, President of Sioux Falls Seminary. "We have been working hard to connect with students in our region and in Omaha who are sensing a call to ministry."
Nimbleness is paying off for Sioux Falls Seminary. All students are offered an individual and flexible educational experience, giving them the ability to fit seminary education into their busy schedules and daily lives.
"The traditional seminary model has been for students to get an education then go out and serve. Today's seminary students are being equipped as they serve. We are arranging our course schedules and offerings to meet each student's individual journey," added Helling.
Beginning in Fall 2011, the Omaha program is partly a contributing factor to the seminary's growth. A total of 15 students have enrolled in Omaha courses for the Fall 2011 and Spring 2012 semesters--a number that seminary officials believe will continue to increase as they continue to visit with churches and individuals.
Mike Harvat, Worship and Student Ministries Director for Community Covenant Church in Omaha, NE, had been praying for the opportunity to further his education without relocating for years. He was thrilled to hear about the seminary's new Master of Divinity program in Omaha and seized the opportunity to further his education while continuing his current ministry role.
"I am very thankful for the opportunity to plug in to Sioux Falls Seminary while continuing to serve in my church. I am already applying what I have learned in my classes; my relationship with Christ, my approach to ministry, and my teaching and preaching have all been affected."
Currently, seminary faculty and administration from Sioux Falls commute to Nebraska to teach courses and meet with students. Partnerships with several area colleges and churches, including Grace University; Creighton University; The University of Nebraska at Omaha; and Covenant Presbyterian Church, provide classroom space and library privileges for Omaha students. In the future as the program grows, Sioux Falls Seminary plans to add faculty and staff to the program.
Hopes for the Future
Doors keep opening for the Sioux Falls Seminary. Stronger enrollment numbers are allowing for open possibilities. President Mike Hagan noted, "We hit a plateau in our student numbers the last ten years. Now we are moving forward again with agility and strength. We are pursuing strategic freedom to more adequately serve the Kingdom of God. We are meeting the needs of students and churches. The needs continue to grow. This is a fun time, thanks to the Lord."