Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary was formed on May 19, 1950, by a vote of the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in Chicago. Trustees elected by the Convention secured a charter and adopted the Abstract of Principles as the Seminary’s Articles of Faith. Southeastern began classes in the fall of 1951 on the campus of Wake Forest College in Wake Forest, NC, a campus recognized then and now as one of the most beautiful in the southeastern United States. The campus itself has a Baptist heritage. In 1832, the Baptists of North Carolina purchased the 615-acre plantation of Dr. Calvin Jones for the purpose of establishing a teaching facility for young ministers. From 1951 to 1956, the current Appleby Hall housed the new Seminary. In 1956, when Wake Forest College moved to its new location in Winston-Salem, NC, Southeastern occupied the rest of the Wake Forest campus.
The Wake Forest Baptist Church was organized in 1835, and occupies the church building (1913) within the campus enclosure. Another historic landmark, the stone wall now surrounding the central campus, was begun about 1885 by Wake Forest College President Charles E. Taylor and “Dr. Tom” Jeffries. The wall was rebuilt by Doug Buttram, a Southeastern graduate, during 1990-1994.
Southeastern’s campus is noted for its splendid natural beauty as well as its graceful classic Georgian architecture. The grounds are rich with magnolias, elms, pines, oaks, cedars, firs, maples, and other varieties of flowering fruit trees. Many of the trees were growing on the land even before the plantation was built and are centuries old. Several massive white oaks, once part of a magnificent grove called Wake Forest (for which the town was named) still stand on the Southeastern campus.
Through the years, Southeastern has complemented the natural setting with dogwoods, hollies, and an array of flowers. The buildings of the original Wake Forest College have been renovated, and new buildings have been added. With each change, the goal has been to maintain the character of the original campus and land. Today, Southeastern’s campus comprises a full range of excellent facilities for living and learning.
Stealey Presidency, 1951-1963
Southeastern’s first president was Sydnor L. Stealey. He served from 1951 until 1963. The number of faculty members and students grew, and plans to remodel and renovate buildings were initiated.
Adams Hall, erected in 1933, first housed the Wake Forest Medical School (now the Bowman Gray School of Medicine). Renovated in 1956 and again in 1984, it serves as a classroom building for the Seminary. It is dedicated to the memory of the late Theodore F. Adams.
Stealey Hall was built by Wake Forest College in 1934. It replaced the Old College Building, later named Wait Hall, which had been destroyed by fire in 1933. In 1956, it was completely renovated for offices of the administration and faculty. It was renamed in 1961 in honor of the Seminary’s first president, S. L. Stealey.
In 1958, the school achieved recognition from the American Association of Theological Schools, now known as the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada.
Binkley Chapel commands the center of the campus. Its tall spire is visible for several miles along every approach to Wake Forest. Work was begun on the chapel in 1942, but World War II prevented the completion of the interior. When the college moved to Winston-Salem in 1956, the work was resumed and completed in 1958. In 1959, a three-manual Reuter organ was given and installed as a memorial to Walter M. Williams of Burlington, NC. In 1969, the chapel was named in honor of the Seminary’s second president, Olin T. Binkley. The ground floor of the chapel was redesigned in 1982 and furnished as five classrooms and church music facilities, including organ and piano practice areas.
The Emery B. Denny Building, was constructed in 1958 to replace the old Heck-Williams Building (1878), which was razed in 1957. In 1969, the Board of Trustees named it in honor of Dr. Emery B. Denny, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of North Carolina, a trustee of the Seminary, and a longtime friend and supporter. The Library, housed in the Denny Building, provides resources and services to support the research and study of the faculty and to meet the needs of students. The library’s collection has grown to more than 300,000 items, including a broad range of materials for the general educational, cultural, and recreational interests of students, faculty, and their families. In addition to books and periodical volumes, the library also houses music scores, music recordings, audiovisual materials, microforms, and computer software. The collection is strong in Early American and Early British materials, including important Baptist documents and Baptist history resources.
The Manor House, located on Durham Road near the main campus, was purchased in 1960 and later renovated in 1994. This house provides pleasant accommodations for prospective students and other guests.
In 1962, Appleby Hall (begun by Wake Forest College in 1942 and completed during World War II) was remodeled and renamed in honor of Mr. Scott B. Appleby in recognition of his generous support of the student aid fund. Appleby Hall contains a small chapel, classrooms, offices, and a lecture room named in memory of Dr. and Mrs. Percy A. Bethea. Today, Appleby Hall houses many of the offices for the music faculty and most of the music classes are conducted in Appleby Hall. Southeastern’s Program Development office is also housed in Appleby Hall.
Binkley Presidency, 1963-1974
In 1963, after thirteen years of service, Stealey retired and Olin T. Binkley was elected president. Enrollment stood at 575 and the school had 28 faculty members.
Under Binkley’s leadership, the Seminary continued the renovation program begun by Stealey. Four outdated buildings were removed, and thirteen new buildings were built. Among these were a number of student housing complexes, including a women’s dormitory.
Mackie Hall was built in 1968, named in honor of Dr. and Mrs. George E. Mackie of Wake Forest. It was originally used as a student center and housed the Baptist Book Store. The building was renamed Stephens-Mackie Hall in October 1999 in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Gerald K. Stephens of Morganton, NC. Today it is dedicated to faculty offices and Southeastern’s Writing Center, which was launched in 2009.
Binkley guided major academic changes: the general curriculum was revised; the Bachelor of Divinity degree became the Master of Divinity degree; and the Master of Religious Education and the Doctor of Ministry degrees were implemented, bringing the total number of degree programs to seven. He also inaugurated the annual Alumni Giving Program before his retirement in 1974.
Lolley Presidency, 1974-1988
Southeastern’s third president, W. Randall Lolley, was elected in 1974. Enrollment had reached 663 with 24 elected faculty members, and by 1983, enrollment had increased to 1,392 with a faculty of 36. His was an era of progress for the Seminary. Degree programs were restructured, Southeastern received accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, and many campus buildings including Magnolia Hill, Broyhill Hall, Adams Hall, and the Ledford Center were modernized, enlarged, or renovated.
Magnolia Hill is the home of the president. Built in 1928 as the residence of the president of Wake Forest College, the house is located off the southwest corner of the campus facing Durham Road. It was renovated and refurnished in 1975. An addition to the home was dedicated in April 2001, featuring a new library and living space.
Broyhill Hall is the oldest building on Southeastern’s campus and is listed in the National Register of Historic Buildings. Built in 1888 as Lea Laboratory, it served Wake Forest College as a science building and then as the chemistry building. In 1980, it was renovated and renamed Broyhill Hall in appreciation of the generous gifts of J. E. and Paul Broyhill, trustees from Lenoir, NC. It now houses offices and the Hall of Presidents.
The idea of a Prayer Garden was begun by students in the Class of 1983 with a graduation gift of $546 and has been expanded as funds have become available. In 1991, an anonymous donor gave a gift of the gazebo which was placed in the center of the garden as a formal place of quiet prayer. The Prayer Garden and gazebo are located at the southwest corner of the campus between Lolley Hall, the Shaw House, and Stephens-Mackie Hall.
The Ledford Center is an expansion of the Gore Gymnasium, which was first dedicated by Wake Forest College in 1938. Renovations and additions to the original building in 1986 provided a 50,000 square-foot activities facility, containing a gymnasium, snack bar, lounges, meeting rooms, book store, sauna, and exercise rooms. Today the complex includes a multi-use gymnasium named for the late Charles Cannon and the Cannon Trusts, a fully equipped fitness facility, racquetball courts, and locker/dressing rooms for women and men. In addition, there is a computer lab, post office, game area, “The Court” restaurant, and “The Locker” shop for Southeastern attire and memorabilia. The international student office is in the Ledford Center, as well as administrative offices for the Dean of Students. The center is named in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Hubert F. Ledford of Raleigh, NC.
Drummond Presidency, 1988-1992
Lolley resigned in the fall of 1987 and was succeeded in 1988 by Lewis A. Drummond. The Drummond presidency marked a transitional era for Southeastern. Student enrollment declined and a major turnover occurred within the faculty. Nevertheless, Drummond led an administrative restructuring in 1988 and, in 1991, established the Center for Great Commission Studies.
Southeastern’s commitment to biblical inerrancy and to historic Baptist theological principles was made clear during the Drummond years. Several new defining documents such as the Seminary’s “Faculty Profile” and revised “Statements of Purpose and Mission” were finalized and adopted in 1992. Drummond retired in the spring of 1992.
Patterson Presidency, 1992-2003
Trustees elected Paige Patterson as the fifth president of the institution in 1992. Under Patterson’s presidency, Southeastern’s enrollment grew from 623 in 1991-1992 to more than 2,300 in 2003-2004. Curriculum revisions in 1994 brought about a more traditional theological degree plan, and in the fall of 1994, Southeastern Baptist Theological College was established as a school of the Seminary.
A number of new degree programs were developed in the Patterson years. Innovative graduate programs in counseling and international church planting, along with a doctor of philosophy degree, were launched in 1995. New programs in women’s studies and advanced biblical studies were begun in 1998, along with an expanded undergraduate program. Programs in Christian school administration, North American church planting, and a new master’s degree in theological studies began in 1999.
In 1996, the Seminary purchased the property at 377 Durham Road, now named the Hunt House, to provide additional accommodations for prospective students and guests.
In April 2000, by action of the Board of Trustees, the name of the college was changed to Southeastern College at Wake Forest. Subsequently in April 2008, the college was given its current name, The College at Southeastern.
In 2001, Trustees supplemented the confessional stance of the school by adding the Baptist Faith and Message (in its 2000 revision) to the by-laws. Southeastern’s accreditation with the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) was reaffirmed in 2003.
The Jacumin-Simpson Missions Center was finished in 2001. The building is named in honor of Jim and Nancy Nell Jacumin of Icard, NC, for their generous support of the project and the Seminary. It is also named in honor of the Jacumins’ parents, Emile and Mamie Jacumin, and Roy and Muriel Simpson. The Jacumin-Simpson Missions Center houses the Lewis A. Drummond Center for Great Commission Studies, the Eitel Auditorium equipped with world-wide video conferencing technology, and fourteen faculty offices. The Drummond Center serves as the headquarters for Southeastern’s international and North American mission effort.
Patterson also initiated a $50 million fundraising campaign called “Scholarship on Fire!” The three-phase campaign was intended to further expand and renovate the campus and to endow scholarships for students. This campaign continues under Akin’s presidency.
Akin Presidency, 2004-present
In January 2004, Trustees elected Daniel L. Akin as Southeastern’s sixth president. Akin’s leadership has brought many innovations while at the same time providing a sense of continuity for Southeastern’s theological identity. He has renewed the emphasis on expository preaching in masters and doctoral studies, and he leads the seminary in a Great Commission focus.
In 2004, Southeastern added an Internet-based distance learning program, and a non-thesis version of the Th.M. In 2005-2006, the Faculty significantly revised the degree program structure on both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Dr. Akin established a new administrative structure and opened the L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture, now located in Patterson Hall. The Bush Center for Faith and Culture is named for Dr. Russ Bush, who served as Southeastern’s academic dean under both Drummond and Patterson. In October 2006, the Prince Building for facilities management was dedicated.
The Paige & Dorothy Patterson Hall was dedicated in 2008 and is named for Southeastern’s fifth president and his wife, Dr. Dorothy Patterson. In honor of the Pattersons’ significant influence on the direction and revitalization of the academic programs, campus life, and the campus itself during their eleven years of service, the Board of Trustees voted to name Southeastern’s newest building for them. Patterson Hall houses classrooms, the academic suites for the doctoral programs, The Dean of Graduate Studies Office, The College at Southeastern’s administrative offices, The L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture, and 22 faculty offices.