The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) is responsible for the accreditation of Hardin-Simmons University and all other major universities in Texas (Baylor, Rice, SMU, TCU, University of Texas system universities, Texas A&M, etc.), among 792 colleges and universities across the southern U.S. SACSCOC is recognized as a stringent regional accrediting body encompassing 11 states, including Texas.
In March, SACSCOC asked Hardin-Simmons University to respond to allegations made on various websites related to decisions made by the HSU Board of Trustees in early February 2020 as part of its strategic plan to strengthen the financial health of HSU, decisions which included the closure of Logsdon Seminary after the teach-out of all current students. After a review of the university’s 14-page response and 160 pages of supporting documents, SACSCOC found that none of the allegations published on the various websites supported a determination of noncompliance with the SACSCOC Principles of Accreditation, and reported its findings in this letter from SACSCOC President Dr. Belle S. Wheelen.
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Absolutely. Many individuals have been affected by this recent decision and the sadness that faculty, staff, students and alumni have felt have been expressed through emails, texts, phone calls, social media and in-person conversations with the administrators and trustees.
The actions to close Logsdon Seminary do not diminish the great sacrifice that HSU, our donors, faculty and staff have made to provide a quality, seminary education to so many. The lives of our students and alumni around the globe are the living embodiment of seeds planted by our Logsdon Seminary faculty and staff. The impact will carry on for generations to come.
Based on all the communications that have been received, there is no doubt that there is a deep love for Hardin-Simmons University, the Logsdon School of Theology and the Logsdon Seminary amongst our global family.
No. Because of the success in training our students to be the hands and feet of Christ, Hardin-Simmons University was entrusted with a school of theology. It was created in 1983 in honor of Charles and Koreen Logsdon of Abilene.
Mrs. Logsdon made the largest gift in the university’s history to that date to establish the Logsdon School of Theology and in 1989 the Logsdon School of Theology complex (including Logsdon Chapel) was completed to provide a beautiful space for theological education here at Hardin-Simmons University.
Since 1983, the lives of students continued to be transformed because of the wonderful gift that the Logsdon family gave to Hardin-Simmons University. HSU has graduated nearly 30,000 alumni who have impacted and continue to impact the world. Courses in the Logsdon School of Theology are an integral part of the core curriculum at HSU.
Twenty-one years after the founding of the Logsdon School of Theology, in 2004, the Hardin-Simmons University Board of Trustees created Logsdon Seminary. Hardin-Simmons boldly stepped into the seminary training realm and took a risk when others didn’t. It was as a result of the West Texas “Can Do Spirit” that Logsdon seminary was created. From the very beginning the seminary lacked appropriate funding. In faith, Hardin-Simmons University believed that seminary graduates could affect even more lives and therefore HSU took on the financial burden to fund the work of Logsdon Seminary. Throughout its 15 years, Logsdon Seminary has graduated over 400 students.
Internal university records and correspondence indicate as early as 2011 that Logsdon administrators knew that the School of Theology and Seminary were financially unsustainable, and appealed to the president for additional financial support.
Financial concerns were brought to the Board of Trustees six years ago when the administration retained the services of the Austen Group to identify low performing programs. In this process, the Seminary and School of Theology were identified as financially low performing programs. It was at this time that some areas of HSU began the creation of online courses to help curb declining enrollments. Because of the nature of our ATS Seminary accreditation, fully online programs are not allowed without a waiver. Logsdon Seminary and Logsdon School of Theology can request a waiver of this policy, but have historically chosen not to. Due to a variety of factors, enrollment numbers in both areas have continued to decline.
One year ago, the Logsdon Seminary Committee and the Finance and Audit Committee of the Board of Trustees discussed the seriousness of the financial situation of Logsdon Seminary and Logsdon School Theology. It was after these meetings that administration sat down with faculty and staff of both the Seminary and School of Theology to discuss once again the pathways to improve the financial condition of the Seminary and the School of Theology.
This past fall, the full Board of Trustees for Hardin-Simmons University met in a workshop setting to discuss the Seminary and School of Theology. After much prayer, sharing of information and discussion, the seriousness of the financial situation of the School of Theology and Seminary was fully understood by the board.
Many schools and programs at Hardin-Simmons have donors that have given to and supporters that feel strongly about the purpose and contributions of that school or program to the overall health of the university. One could ask the same question about a number of schools and programs, even others that are a part of these closures, but realistically, the Board of Trustees has had to sincerely contemplate the question in recent years, “Do all of our programs come together to form a strong and enduring university with a positive and financially sound future?”
The answer that has been found is, no – and so the follow up questions become, “What do we need to do to change our trajectory and move toward financial sustainability? What needs to change to ensure that our institution will be here for at least another 130 years?” These are questions that the Board of Trustees has asked since the founding of HSU, and any governing body of any other private institution asks themselves the same questions.
The changes that you see reflected now are the vital and imperative steps that need to be taken to address the question of Hardin-Simmons University’s future, and while the changes are undesirable from some standpoints, they ultimately allow HSU to return to a level of financial health that it has not been achieved – and sets us up to pursue financial excellence to support academic excellence in the coming years.
Over the last 5 years, the Logsdon School of Theology Undergraduate programs have had an overall enrollment decline of -34.3%, and the Logsdon Seminary Graduate programs have had on overall decline of -16.2%.
Hardin-Simmons University’s Office of Enrollment Management is always recruiting for all Logsdon School of Theology programs. Logsdon Seminary was the only graduate program on campus that had its own recruiter. The Office of Enrollment Management has a graduate recruiter who recruits for Logsdon Seminary along with all of the other graduate programs at the university.
The Logsdon School of Theology has a large series of endowment gifts that HSU is able to utilize to support the Logsdon School of Theology and all its programs, including the Seminary.
The current value of funds given to Logsdon School of Theology and Seminary is $32,463,000. These funds are restricted, which means that based on donor restrictions, HSU cannot use the entire amount, only a set distribution amount from those funds each year.
The distribution total on this amount on an annual basis is approximately $1,623,000.
Examining just the amounts from the most recent financial year, HSU spent $2,462,000 on salaries, employee benefits, travel, supplies, and equipment related to the Logsdon School of Theology and Seminary. We then spent another $1,797,000 on a variety of overhead costs related to Logsdon School of Theology and Seminary – including electricity, other utilities, rent on satellite campus facilities, maintenance, depreciation, repairs, and other expenses.
The total amount spent was approximately $4,259,000.
Considering this $4.259 million, then subtracting the endowment distribution of $1.623 million, leaves an unfunded cost of $2.636 million to be covered by other means.
Student tuition payments for Logsdon School of Theology and Logsdon Seminary, as well as BGCT support, provides an additional $1,368,254 per year.
Subtracting this $1,368,254 from the remaining $2.636 million leaves a deficit for the Logsdon School of Theology and Logsdon Seminary of $1.267 million in unfunded costs to be supported by other means at Hardin-Simmons University.
A limited amount, yes. Some Logsdon endowments were given to support specifically the Seminary — about 2.4% of the total. The total restricted endowment amounts specifically for Logsdon Seminary are $792,786.
These funds will be used in accordance with the restrictions placed on the gifts by the donors.
The Logsdon Seminary endowment distributions total approximately $39,640 per year.
With the seminary having 124 full and part time students, this amount is $319.68 per student per year in endowment scholarships.
The total paid to HSU last year from Seminary students and the Baptist General Convention of Texas on their behalf was $1,368,254.
HSU anticipates a cost savings of $400,000 – $600,000 annually. The Board of Trustees considered the closure of other programs, but after consideration, discussion, and prayer, made the decision to close Logsdon Seminary.
All courses taught in the general education curriculum are treated the same in our financial analysis.
Faculty, staff, alumni, parents, churches, community leaders and many others have always provided Hardin-Simmons University with their advice and opinions of HSU and its programs. These opinions range from glowing reviews and encouragements to negative impressions and words meant to be derogatory and hurtful.
These opinions do not influence the financial analysis that is assisting the Board of Trustees as they make financial decisions about HSU’s academic offerings.
Possibly. There is a need for seminary level education in Texas. A group of individuals have begun to consider the possibility of a freestanding seminary separate and apart from Hardin-Simmons University and located in San Antonio.
HSU would encourage churches and individuals, who are passionate about seminary education, to take on the responsibility of creating such a place.
When these churches and individuals decide to work together for this, Hardin-Simmons University stands ready to provide guidance, consultation, and assistance.