Published August 30, 2016
Clarks Summit University recently announced the intent to sell the Stowell Seminary Building, which has housed Baptist Bible Seminary since 1990. The property is located in a highly visible location on Venard Road in South Abington Township. Purchase negotiations are now in place with a potential buyer; details will be made public soon.
The decision was made after seriously considering a number of factors, including plans for future development of other areas of the campus and increased demand for online academic programs in lieu of traditional, fully on-campus models. According to Vice President for Communications and External Relations Mel Walker, “Our school began in Johnson City, NY in 1932 and has been on this scenic Pennsylvania campus since 1968. The demands of higher education have changed greatly since that time, and this is another step to help us reach our future goals for today’s—and tomorrow’s—students.”
The university acquired the campus from The Venard Apostolic College, known as Maryknoll Junior Seminary, in 1968. The original property consisted of 154 acres on both sides of Venard Road including land on the north side of Venard Road that now accommodates Heritage Baptist Church and Elan Gardens.
Though the Stowell Seminary Building is on the market, Baptist Bible Seminary remains an important part of Clarks Summit University. The seminary, which equips men for pastoral roles and other professional ministry careers, currently offers four master’s degrees, most of which can be earned completely online, and two doctorate degrees, both of which are primarily non-residential.
“Because academic programs are offered in a unique and flexible web-enhanced or completely online format, BBS students do not have to be sitting in a physical classroom for much of their academic experience,” explains Seminary Dean Dr. Lee Kliewer. As demand grows for more online education—especially at the master’s and doctorate levels—university officials believe seminary students can take advantage of other campus buildings when attending one-week modules and on-campus classes.
Future goals for the physical campus include development of other areas of the property for athletic fields. Other existing buildings have the potential to be repurposed to fit the future needs of the seminary and may also include small conference centers. “Our goal is to be good stewards of the land and campus buildings,” notes Walker. “We want to put what we have to its best possible use. It’s a beautiful property situated in a wonderful and welcoming community, and we’re happy to continue to call it home.”