Louisiana College, a small Southern Baptist college in Pineville, La., plans to open a tuition-free graduate school for ministers next August.

A foundation has promised $1 million or more a year “in perpetuity” for the Caskey School of Divinity, said Joe Aguillard, president of Louisiana College, which currently has about 1,450 students. The first $1 million check arrived Dec. 14.

The school’s announcement identifies Caskey as “a Southern Baptist minister who tirelessly worked and evangelized in Louisiana,” but doesn’t mention the minister’s first name. Aguillard said the foundation asked him to keep that secret because it might be used to identify the foundation.

“My board doesn’t even know,” Aguillard said. “It’s very, very anonymous.”

One of the graduate school’s aims is helping ministers whose churches are small, and who must hold down a full-time job outside the church, Aguillard said. Because of that, he said, most classes will be at night, at weeklong summer “institutes” and seminars held over long weekends, and over the Internet.

Initial plans call for admitting 100 students a year.

The free tuition will include study abroad, Aguillard said. “Every student will stay in Israel to make the connection to the studies here on campus to the Holy Land,” he said. “It will be a very formidable educational piece to that degree program.”

Many divinity students get grants or scholarships for all or part of their tuition, but most schools do charge tuition, said William C. Miller, director of accreditation and institutional evaluation for the Association of Theological Schools.

And, he noted in an e-mail, the percentage of tuition that students must pay has grown over the past two decades.