BUA leads U.S. universities in producing Hispanic ministerial students at BA level
SAN ANTONIO–Baptist University of the Américas has been formally recognized as a national leader in preparing Hispanic students for vocational ministry. Diverse: Issues in Higher Education reported in its July issue that BUA, despite an enrollment of just 261, ranked second nationally among all accredited universities for Hispanic ministry graduates at the bachelor’s level for the 2010-11 academic year. But combining the two previous years shows BUA the leader by a significant margin.
“This is a very much a good news/troubling news situation,” BUA President René Maciel said. “Obviously we celebrate the hard data that shows we are being faithful to the specific call God has given BUA.
“But compare the numbers to the need! In two years we graduated almost 10 percent of ALL Hispanics BA students to be ministers. The Top 100 schools combined in two years graduated only 429—and that includes Protestant, Catholic and Jewish universities—in a country with more than 50 million Hispanics. I am haunted by the words in Hebrews warning us not to ‘ignore so great a salvation.’”
The magazine has ranked the Top 100 for minority students in other academic disciplines for years, but debuted the “religious and ministerial studies and theology” category this year. The report is based on research of Victor Borden at Indiana University Bloomington, using U.S. Department of Education data. (Read Diverse here: http://mydigimag.rrd.com/publication/?i=118569).
Southwestern Assemblies of God University in Waxahachie, Texas topped the 2010-11 rankings granting 22 theology degrees while BUA had 18.
On its website, the magazine included 2009-10 figures that showed BUA ranked first for Hispanic theology graduates with 21. Combining the past two years, BUA (40) and Southwestern Assemblies of God (29) placed one-two.
The other Texas Baptist universities in the list were Dallas Baptist University, tied for 11th (18) and Howard Payne University in Brownwood, tied for 20th (4). (The complete reports can be found at http://diverseeducation.com/top100/)
Though it is not reflected in the theology graduate totals, BUA’s other bachelor programs in Spanish, Business Leadership and Music require 30 hours/10 courses of Bible classes.
Rolando Rodriguez, a BUA alumnus and director of Hispanic Ministries for the Baptist General Convention of Texas, noted, “The need to prepare men and women who have been called to ministry increasingly grows greater,” he said. “In the midst of the great need Baptist University of the Américas has taken that challenge very personally. We celebrate this great achievement with BUA. It’s not just a University, it is OUR University. Felicidades”
Gus Reyes, who heads up the BGCT’s Hispanic Education Initiative, affirmed BUA’s focus on developing leaders who will shape growing Hispanic congregations in Texas and beyond.
“The metrics reported point to the opportunity to increase the number of trained Hispanic leaders,” he said. “Recent demographics of the Hispanic population point to the need for a tsunami of theological and religious bachelor degrees. Praise God for BUA, the Hispanic Baptist Convention, and Texas Baptists as they work together to call out the ‘called’ and provide adequate education for spiritual transformation.”
BUA, founded in 1947 as the Texas Mexican Baptist Bible Institute and accredited to offer bachelor’s degrees in 2003, has grown steadily the past decade, from 50 students to the 261 last spring. Plans are underway for a new campus and a fourth BA program, in music, will debut this fall.
In addition to the BA program, the university’s Baptist Bible Institute, a diploma-level program, has more than 500 students in ministry training, primarily in Texas and Northern Mexico but also in India, South Africa and across Latin America.
“We have the faith, the dream, the call, the faculty and the land to significantly increase the numbers of students preparing to share the Gospel,” Maciel said. “We just need to build more classrooms and fill them with the men and women God is calling.”
Joe Brake, BUA Board of Trustees chairman, also welcomed the news, adding that “the ranking does not speak to the quality of the education offered at the various institutions, but if it did, BUA would still be at the very top. We have doctoral level faculty and are expanding our physical facilities to provide an excellent environment in which to facilitate that excellent education. The changing demographics of our state and yes, our country, demand that we continue to train increasing numbers of cross-cultural Hispanic leaders to serve in our churches and communities.”