History of Southeastern Bible College
At an inter-church Bible conference in Birmingham in 1933, the late Dr. Harry A. Ironside, a respected Bible teacher, challenged a group of Christian business and professional men to establish a Bible school. It was the unanimous conviction of these men that there was a vital need for a school to train Christian workers that was centered on the Bible and also evangelical.
The school was organized and incorporated as the Birmingham School of the Bible. On May 1, 1935, it opened its doors for evening classes. Regular day courses were offered beginning in 1940, and the name was changed to Southeastern Bible School in 1943. A basic three-year program grew to a four-year degree program in 1948. Other academic programs were developed and the charter rights to grant degrees were obtained in 1950. The name of the school was changed to Southeastern Bible College in 1952.
The College attained national accreditation with the Association for Biblical Higher Education (ABHE) in 1962. The campus moved from a two story frame house to its Pawnee Avenue Southside location in 1947. In 1988, the College moved to a 10-acre site in Mountain Brook on Highway 280. In March 2001, Dr. Don Hawkins was appointed President. In 2004, with God’s providential blessing, Southeastern Bible College relocated to its current 22-acre campus facilities at 2545 Valleydale Road in North Shelby County.
Presidents of SEBC
Wick Broomall Jr.
Pastor of Handley Memorial Presbyterian Church was Dean from 1934 to 1937.
Harold A. Cook
Pastor of Porter Baptist Church, was Dean from 1937 to 1941; of Evening Division until June 1943.
William C. Bennett
a graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, became the first to hold the title President of the Birmingham School of the Bible. Bennett launched a day-school program.
James S. Mooney
Served from July 21, 1943 until June 1945.
Served from September 1945 until 1958.
Dr. Alden Gannett (1960—July 1969; Fall 1972—1981)
In the spring of 1958, Southeastern’s board turned, as it often did, to Dallas Theological Seminary in search of a president. With the assistance of Dr. John Walvoord, their search brought Dr. Gannett to the office in 1960. Dr. Gannett had Th.M. and Th.D. degrees from Dallas Seminary and a M.A. degree from New York University. His qualifications for the office included teaching positions at Dallas Bible College and Dallas Seminary and a four-year tenure as President of London Bible College in Ontario, Canada.
Dr. Gannett resigned the Presidency of SEBC in July 1969 to serve as Minister-At-Large for the Unevangelized Fields Mission (now CrossWorld). During his absence, Dr. Gannett served as President Emeritus. He returned to the Presidency in 1972 and served until 1981.
Rev. Sumner Wemp (July 1969—May 1971)
Upon Dr. Gannett’s departure in 1969, C. Sumner Wemp was elected President and served from July 1969 to May 1971. President Wemp held degrees from Samford University and Dallas Theological Seminary. Prior to his tenure as President at SEBC, Mr. Wemp had served as a pastor from 1948 to 1961 and served as Chairman of the Department of Evangelism and Pastoral Training at Moody Bible Institute from 1961 to 1969.
Dr. Leon W. Gillaspie
Having arrived at Southeastern in 1947, Dr. Gillaspie holds the undisputed position of SEBC patriarch. He was the college’s second full-time faculty member. He was a graduate of Wheaton College, which, at the time, was the most prestigious conservative evangelical college in America.
During his lengthy tenure, Dr. Gillaspie served in numerous capacities, including Instructor, Dean of Men, Registrar, Dean of Admissions and Records, at least two terms as Academic Dean, Vice President and two terms as Acting President.
While attending to his duties at SEBC, he earned an M.A. in anthropology from the University of Alabama.
Dr. James G. Kallam (Fall 1981—1988)
Following Dr. Gannett’s second term, SEBC called Dr. James G. Kallam to the Presidency of the college. Dr. Kallam’s credentials included two music degrees from Westminster Choir College, an M. Div. from New York Theological Seminary, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from New York University. He also brought extensive experience, having achieved the rank of Professor of Bible at Northeastern Bible College between 1958 and 1978 and having served as the Academic Dean at Northeastern between 1970 and 1980.
Dr. John D. Talley Jr. (1988—2001)
Dr. Talley was the first SEBC alumnus (1966) to assume the Presidency. In addition, Dr. Talley holds graduate degrees from Grace Theological Seminary and Western Conservative Baptist Seminary. He also brought extensive experience to the job, having served in the pastorate, as an Army Chaplain with service in Vietnam, as Chairman of Pastoral Theology Departments at both Appalachian Bible College in West Virginia and SEBC. He also served Southeastern as the Academic Dean and Administrative Vice President for three years prior to his appointment as President. Dr. Talley oversaw the relocation of Southeastern from its campus on Red Mountain to the Highway 280 campus.
Dr. Don W. Hawkins (2001—present)
Dr. Don Hawkins serves as the ninth President of Southeastern Bible College. He has had an array of ministry experiences that include serving as Vice President and Executive Director of the Minirth Meier Clinic, and as co-host and producer of the Back to the Bible radio program immediately prior to coming to Birmingham. His academic credentials include a Bachelor of Arts from Southeastern Bible College in 1967, a Master of Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary in 1974, and a Doctor of Ministry from Calvary Theological Seminary in 1998.
Dr. Hawkins has authored or co-authored over 20 books and he hosts a live nationwide call-in program, Life Perspectives, from the Southeastern campus. He is a veteran conference and seminar speaker and has 19 years of pastoral experience. Dr. Hawkins and his wife Kathy have three grown children and eleven grandchildren.