God is doing “a fresh and marvelous work” on Seminary Hill, President Adam W. Greenway told Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s (SWBTS) board of trustees during their spring meeting, April 12-13.
During the meeting, Greenway announced the seminary plans to resume “full, normal on-campus operations in the fall” and the board approved the 2021-22 budget, elected officers, received encouraging enrollment updates, approved changes to bylaws and degree programs, promoted faculty, received announcement of the appointment of six new faculty and conducted other business.
The meeting was the board’s first in-person gathering since the fall of 2019. COVID-19 restrictions resulted in both the spring and fall 2020 meetings being held in a primarily virtual format. During the meeting, social distancing was practiced, and some board members participated via videoconferencing.
During his president’s report, Greenway said that despite the adversity faced in the last year, including the pandemic and “unprecedented” legal issues, “the state of Southwestern is strong.”
“I cannot, to our board, commend strongly enough the resiliency of our faculty and our staff,” Greenway said, “who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to be as flexible as they can be, to ensure that our students remain the priority in all that we do here at Southwestern Seminary.”
Speaking of the “remarkable things” God has done to “provide for and sustain” the student body, Greenway noted that enrollment has been steady over the last year, with the number of graduate applications for the fall 2021 semester showing an 83% increase over last year, and the number of undergraduate applications showing an increase of 103%.
“Despite the fact that we have not had the opportunities to be in venues for major recruiting events and to be on the road, the Lord is reawakening prospective students to the marvelous educational opportunities that await them here at Southwestern Seminary across our five schools,” Greenway said. “And that is the tremendous fruit of what has been happening in terms of our investments in admissions and enrollment efforts.”
Greenway also noted God’s financial provision, with the 2021-22 budget representing an 11.5% increase over the current year’s budget. Greenway said this financial plan is “an indication that the Lord is returning our seminary to a position of financial health and strength.
“We’re going to close this fiscal year in a position of fiscal vitality, health and strength because of the blessing of the Lord and because of the stewardship that our administration is committed to providing under the direction and leadership of you, our board of trustees, particularly our business administration committee.”
Regarding the seminary’s ongoing response to COVID-19, Greenway said Southwestern has maintained “a position of caution and concern as we close out this spring semester,” but that the institution plans to resume “full, normal on-campus operations” beginning this August.
“We are thankful for all that technology allows us to do, but we still believe there is something special that happens when we get faculty and students together, sharing space and being able to share the gospel of grace together,” he said.
Finally, Greenway addressed the joint lawsuit with Baylor University against the Harold E. Riley Foundation, which was resolved in February.
“No institution takes on legal matters lightly,” Greenway said, “and it is something that we do not seek to engage in. But there are times where justice demands that we act. And God, in His marvelous providence, vindicated this institution powerfully and demonstrably in what happened in terms of the legal settlement earlier this year, in the resources that now have come and will be coming to support students here at Southwestern Seminary.”
Greenway concluded his report by declaring that the “future remains exceptionally bright – as bright as a West Texas sunset – for Southwestern Seminary.” He continued, “The Lord is doing a fresh and marvelous work here on Seminary Hill, and I am thankful every day for the trust that you have placed in me … as president of my beloved alma mater, The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.”
Greenway informed the board of the appointment of six new faculty members – four in Scarborough College and two in the Roy J. Fish School of Evangelism and Missions:
- Todd Bates has been appointed professor of philosophy and associate dean of Scarborough College.
- Ian Buntain has been appointed associate professor of missions in the Fish School and director of the World Missions Center.
- Mark McClellan has been appointed professor of missions in the Fish School and director of hispanic programs.
- Blake McKinney has been appointed assistant professor of history in Scarborough College.
- Joshua M. Philpot has been appointed assistant professor of biblical studies in Scarborough College.
- Justin Wainscott has been appointed assistant professor of Christian ministry in Scarborough College and director of discipleship and campus ministries.
The board adopted the academic administration committee’s recommendation that the following faculty receive a full sabbatical for the 2021-22 academic year: David L. Allen, distinguished professor of preaching; Eric Mitchell, professor of Old Testament and biblical backgrounds; Matt Queen, associate professor of evangelism; and Malcolm B. Yarnell III, research professor of theology.
The board also approved the following faculty rank promotions: Nathan Burggraff to associate professor of music theory; Ben Caston to professor of voice; Karen Kennemur to professor of children’s ministry; Jeremiah Kim to associate professor of theology; and Matt Queen to professor of evangelism.
The board affirmed multiple recommendations from the academic administration committee regarding degree programs. First, they approved two new associate’s degrees for Scarborough College – the 60-hour associate of arts in Christian studies and the 60-hour associate of arts in humanities. Second, they approved the revision to two of the college’s bachelor’s degrees – the 123-hour bachelor of arts in Christian studies and the 126-hour bachelor of arts in humanities.
Third, the board voted to phase out the master of arts in philosophy and master of arts in apologetics degrees.
The academic administration committee’s final recommendation, which the board adopted, was to approve those students nominated by the faculty and certified by the registrar as having met all requirements for spring 2021 graduation.
Kevin Ueckert, chairman of the academic administration committee, concluded his report to the board by noting the committee has “a great sense of confidence in the direction of our leadership at the seminary.”
“We heard from all the academic deans and were thoroughly impressed in regard to their enthusiasm and their vision for leading our seminary forward to equip the students to be ministers and servants all over the world,” he said.
Trustees also elected board officers: as chairman, Danny Roberts, executive pastor of North Richland Hills Baptist Church in North Richland Hills, Texas; as vice chairman, Jonathan Richard, senior pastor of First Baptist Church Estancia in Estancia, N.M.; and as secretary, Jamie Green, retired speech-language pathologist in Katy, Texas.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Alex Sibley is associate director of news and information at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.)