Back in the Dark Ages, when I was in graduate school, I was able to work part-time during the school year and full-time in the summer and mostly pay for my education. I must admit, most of my jobs were at or near minimum wage, yet it was still possible to achieve my goal of debt-free education.
Those days are long gone. Minimum wage has not kept up with inflation nor with the cost of higher education. We can all complain about the cost of education, but there are many more costs for institutions of higher education than when I was a student. For instance, during my years as a president of a liberal arts college, from 1996 to 2014, we increased computer staff from two and a half employees to 23 full-time workers. In addition, of course, we had the added costs of providing rapidly improving, up-to-date technology for faculty, staff, and students. That is just one example of higher education’s growing expenses over the last twenty-five years. I could give many more.
All that in order to say that we must help our current and future students figure out ways to afford their education as they prepare for ministry and other avenues of service in the world. Let me share some recent good news with you:
- At the end of 2020, a generous donor gave $500,000 to Perkins, to be used for student scholarships. In consultation with Dean Hill, it has been decided that, from this pool, five new Perkins Scholars will be funded each year for the next three years, in addition to the 10 funded by the Perkins Executive Board. A separate group of students will be eligible for additional scholarship support from that pool of money as well.
- In January, the Eula Mae and John Baugh Foundation informed us that it is awarding Perkins $300,000 for the Baptist House of Studies program. The bulk of the money will be used for scholarship aid for four new “Baugh Scholars” each year over the next three years. This effort, under the direction of Dr. Jaime Clark-Soles, has already impacted Baptist students who desire to come to Perkins School of Theology. (Read more here.)
- A faithful donor recently handed me a check to fund five Perkins Scholars for the class of 2024, who will enter Perkins this August.
- On February 16, the Bolin Family Virtual Scholarship Event, featuring David Brooks from the New York Times, will add nearly $175,000 to the general scholarship account thanks to faithful sponsors who are giving suggested donations at various levels. It is not too late to get involved in that event. Visit https://www.smu.edu/Perkins/Give/plpf and join the fun and intellectual stimulation. The presentation will be memorable.
Those are four large sums of money, and we are extremely thankful. But we are grateful for all gifts, both big and modest. Every dollar counts. I urge all alumni and friends to help make theological education affordable for our current students. We are educating students who will make a difference in the church and the world from 2021 through 2065, and beyond! What will the world be like in 2065? Who knows? But many students who are being educated right now will still be faithfully ministering to a hurting and changing world.
Join us in this effort. To give online, click on https://giving.smu.edu/schools-areas/perkins/ To give by check, make it out to SMU and note Perkins Scholarships. Send to:
John A. Martin
PO Box 750133
Dallas, TX 75275-0133
All my best,
John A. Martin