Construction of the Administration Building in 1987
James Teel initiated an Advisory Council for the school. This group, consisting of Canadians and Americans, has been a valuable friend of the seminary through prayer, promotion, fund-raising and fellowship. The group has fluctuated in membership through the years with an average size of 30.
Having served as the first president of the Council, Don Dilmore (from Texas) volunteered two years on campus as Director of Development (1993-95). Serving on the council in the early 1990s, Wayne Key (from Calgary, Alberta) became a student at the school in 1996, followed by Bob Spears, who has also served on the Council for many years. Alumni Darcy Cust (1990), Kevin Trick (1992), and Ross Lincer (1998) also serve on the Council.
The first graduation (May 1990) had six graduates, four of whom became pastors of Canadian Southern Baptist churches. With the placement of Canadian pastors, trained in Canada by Southern Baptist professors, the dream of those early pioneers became a reality.
Student enrollment at the school has gradually increased through the years. The 1990-91 school year saw 27 on-campus students. From 1991-1997 average enrollment ran between 30 and 40. In 2001-2002, 75 students enrolled at the Cochrane campus. In the fall of 2002, however, enrollment jumped by 30%. For the first time, enrollment surpassed the 100-mark, with 102 students studying, either on campus or via the Internet.
Off-campus courses in cities such as Calgary, Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal provided theological training for several hundred students. Called Continuous Ministry Education (CME), this program provided valuable ministry training for many who could not otherwise take courses. Faculty members from Cochrane as well as on-site seminary extension faculty provided teachers for this program.
Seminary trustees provide an important link between the seminary and churches in the Canadian Convention of Southern Baptists. Trustees are elected by messengers from the churches at annual meetings of the convention. They are elected for four one-year terms and have the responsibility for helping the school achieve its goals, policies and vision. Trustee boards consist of seven men and women. They meet twice annually and report directly to the national leadership board of the Canadian Convention of Southern Baptists. Six seminary graduates have served as trustees of the school.
Buildings have been added to the seminary campus through the years. A maintenance building and main administration building were built in 1987. In October 1990 eight student apartments were completed. These residences were constructed by volunteers from Canada and the U.S. In the summers of 1995 and 1996, a new academic building was constructed by the Texas Baptist Men at a cost of 1.4 million dollars. Texas Baptist Men not only built the building but also raised the funds for the project. This building now houses all academic functions of the school except the library. With classrooms, student lounges, chapel/dining area, bookstore and faculty offices the academic building can accommodate up to 150 students. In 1998 eight student-housing units were constructed by Texas Baptist Men volunteers, and in 2000 an additional 12 housing units were built. In 2002, an additional 18 units were constructed, with 12 being completed for the fall 2002 semester, and 6 more for fall 2003. This will bring the total number of student residence units to 46.
In 1997 a new maintenance building was constructed next to the convention office building. As a part of this overall project, the former maintenance building was completely renovated and remodeled to house five guest accommodations: three one-bedroom fully furnished suites, and two efficiency units, all with the help of volunteers. While the 12 student apartments were being constructed in 2000, Texas Baptist Men volunteers constructed a woodworking shop adjacent to the maintenance building. Since that time, that shop has been used by faculty, staff, and students to build furniture for school offices, the library, and cabinetry for new student apartments.
Although not a separate building, the library is essential to academic life at the school. The library began with 7,000 volumes purchased from Foothills Christian College. In August of 1986, the late Dr. Keith Wills, retired director of library services of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Texas, came to organize and increase library holdings. Through Dr. Wills' solicitations, several retired professors' personal libraries were donated. Augmented by these contributions and other donations and purchases, the library presently contains volumes and periodicals approaching 40,000 in number. Dr. Wills was assisted from the beginning by Mrs. Catherine Schmidt, who later became the school librarian. Mrs. Kathy Seidler (MLS) currently directs the library and in May 2003 graduated from the seminary with her Master of Divinity Degree.