The presidents of B. H. Carroll Theological Institute in Irving and East Texas Baptist University in Marshall announced on Feb 6 that the institutions’ boards have each approved resolutions authorizing an exclusive agreement to merge the administrative and academic operations of B. H. Carroll into ETBU.
A letter of intent, signed by B. H. Carroll President Gene Wilkes and ETBU President J Blair Blackburn, sets forth the terms and conditions of the merger and the timeline for its completion.
On or before Jan 31, 2025, B. H. Carroll will become a new school of ETBU known as “B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary at East Texas Baptist University” and will continue to offer graduate theological education through its accredited masters and doctoral degree programs. Until the final merger, B. H. Carroll will continue to operate independently but in close collaboration with ETBU’s administration. Therefore, B. H. Carroll will begin serving as “B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary” immediately, dropping the descriptor “Institute” to pave the way for the completion of the merger.
Students currently enrolled at B. H. Carroll will not experience any disruption in their degree programs. ETBU has also pledged a robust effort to provide employment opportunities for B. H. Carroll’s employees.
Dr. Wilkes said he was enthusiastic about the merger primarily because of the institutional strength of ETBU and his confidence in ETBU’s commitment to maintaining the mission and legacy of the institution he leads.
“The missions of B. H. Carroll and ETBU are already very similar. We are fit because we are both concerned with teaching ministers, chaplains, counselors, educators, and lay people for service in Christ’s church’s diverse and global ministries. Our spirits are the same. We are interested in the growth of God’s Kingdom, faithfulness to His word, loving God’s people in the church, and bringing the lost to Christ. We will continue to operate this way when we join ETBU,” Dr. Wilkes said.
Dr. Blackburn also expressed excitement and said the presence of B. H. Carroll’s faculty and programs would enhance the educational offerings of ETBU both on campus and online.
“We are excited to partner with the leadership and faculty of B.H. Carroll Theological Institute as we unite in our Christ-centered calling through graduate theological education,” Dr. Blackburn said. “The opportunity to educate, equip, and serve Carroll and ETBU students will extend the institutions’ great legacies of preparing students for the gospel ministry and expand our kingdom’s impact. Since founding ETBU as the College of Marshall in 1912, the school has been preparing students to advance the Kingdom of God through the local church and on the mission field. Carroll is known for producing biblical scholars who faithfully love and serve the church, and this commitment will continue through B. H. Carroll Theological Seminary at East Texas Baptist University. I look forward to working with President Gene Wilkes and faculty leaders as we take the next steps in our educational partnership.”
According to Dr. Wilkes and Dr. Blackburn, the merger agreement sets the stage for a series of reviews and approvals by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) and the Association of Theological Schools (ATS). Over the next several months, the two institutions will continue to address the many outstanding details and develop comprehensive plans to ensure a smooth transition.
The chairs of both school boards echoed the hopes expressed by Dr. Wilkes and Dr. Blackburn. B. H. Carroll Chair Dr. Leon Leach said B. H. Carroll’s vision since its founding in 2004 has been to offer affordable, accessible, achievable, and accredited theological education. “This merger of the two institutions connects B. H. Carroll with a university with a similar vision, a rich history, and a kindred desire to prepare students for service in the church,” he said.
James Webb, chair of ETBU’s Board of Trustees, shared his enthusiasm for the merger opportunity, “East Texas Baptist University and B. H. Carroll Theological Institute have the same mission to equip Christian servant leaders to follow their calling to God and humanity; the opportunity for greater Kingdom impact can be achieved through a strategic educational and ministry partnership to fulfill the Great Commission.”
The joining of the two institutions enables B.H. Carroll students access resources, including financial aid, additional scholarship opportunities, and student services. Upon approval of the merger, East Texas Baptist University will become a doctoral degree-granting institution.
“This partnership is less of a new merger and more of a family reunion,” Dr. Thomas Sanders, ETBU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, said. “The founding faculty members of Carroll had strong ties and history with the Baptist General Convention of Texas and the wider world of Baptists. We share educational, theological, and denominational heritage. I am thrilled to see these leaders reunite around the common goals of Texas Baptists.”
ETBU will provide regular updates on the merger at www.etbu.edu/bhcarrollmerger.