David Nelson, dean of the faculty at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, resigned Feb. 3, effective immediately.
In an email to the seminary family, he cited both health reasons and a realization that “my gifts and interests may best suit me for another environment.”
He said several health issues, none of them life threatening, “have nagged me over the last 18 months.” He said their persistence caused him “to consider quality of life, and the relationship of my job to my health.”
Relief from responsibilities at Southeastern, he said “will help me to address these issues directly.”
Preferring “another environment” in which to continue his career, following the sabbatical he began with his announcement, he said he may pursue “a university setting, where there is a community of scholars from widely-varied disciplines in the arts and sciences.”
“What comes next for me remains unknown at this point, but I am confident of God’s leadership through all this,” he said.
A staff source at the seminary said Nelson’s leaving should “in no way” be considered a firing.
“Dr. Nelson’s resignation is a great loss to me personally,” said Southeastern president Daniel Akin in a press release from the seminary. “His contributions to Southeastern on so many levels are immeasurable. We share a close and blessed friendship and a like-mindedness that is truly a gift from the Lord.”
Nelson, who also held the title of senior vice president of academic administration, was on the faculty for more than a decade and was the dean for the past four years.
According to the press release, Nelson coined the phrase, “every classroom a Great Commission classroom.” Under his leadership Southeastern developed close working relationships with Southern Baptist mission agencies and launched the L. Russ Bush Center for Faith and Culture.
Ken Keathley, dean of graduate studies, will serve as interim senior vice president and dean of the faculty until Akin has completed a search for a new dean.