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FROM THE COLLEGES: SBU Pres. Pat Taylor to retire; ETBU bass fishing team treks to the Amazon; octogenarian Shorter grad dies

SBU President C. Pat Taylor to retire

BOLIVAR, Mo. (BP) — Southwest Baptist University President C. Pat Taylor has announced he will retire Aug. 31 after nearly 22 years as SBU’s president.

“From the time [his late wife] Judy and I first visited Bolivar in 1996, we fell in love with SBU and the Bolivar community,” said Taylor, the longest-serving president in SBU’s 139-year history. SBU, with 3,500 students, is “on a good trajectory,” Taylor said, “making this a great time for a transition to a bigger and greater future.”

Since his arrival in 1996, Taylor has conferred 16,963 diplomas and calls commencement his favorite event because the university’s No. 1 objective is graduating students who reflect the mission statement he led SBU in adopting: “Southwest Baptist University is a Christ-centered, caring academic community preparing students to be servant leaders in a global society.”

Fundraising proceeds during Taylor’s tenure total more than $122 million. The Partners in Excellence campaign, which had raised $62.5 million when it ended in 2006, funded 13 major building and renovation projects, including the addition of a wellness & sports center and the renovation within the Jester Center for a simulation lab for a pre-licensure bachelor’s degree in nursing.

New academic offerings during Taylor’s tenure include the university’s first doctoral program, the doctor of physical therapy. Multiple graduate degrees in education, including the doctor of education in educational leadership, were launched under his leadership. Other new master’s degree programs include the master of science in nursing, master of business administration and master of arts in Christian ministry.

In the broader education community, Taylor has served on the boards of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities, the Consortium for Global Education, the International Association of Baptist Colleges & Universities and the CEO Council for the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association. He also served as president of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Missouri association and chairman of the Missouri Colleges Fund.

Prior to becoming president of SBU, Taylor served as Oklahoma Baptist University’s chief academic officer for 10 years; associate vice president for academic affairs at Union University in Jackson, Tenn., from 1979-1986; and an assistant professor of education at Belmont University in Nashville from 1975-1979.

A native of Salem, Ky., Taylor holds a doctor of education degree with emphasis in history and philosophy of education from then-Memphis State University (now University of Memphis); a master’s degree in history from Western Kentucky University; and an undergraduate degree from the University of Tennessee-Martin.

Taylor and his wife Judy were married 47 years before she died 2016 after battling a neurological disease for several years. He has two daughters and two grandchildren.

Don Fahrni, chairman of the SBU’s trustees, has appointed a 12-member presidential search committee consisting of six trustees, a faculty member, an academic dean, a member of the executive cabinet, a staff member, a student and an alumna.


ETBU bass fishing team ventures to the Amazon

MARSHALL, Texas (BP) — Seven members of the East Texas Baptist University bass fishing team traveled to Brazil Jan. 3-12 as a part of ETBU’s Tiger Athletic Mission Experience program.

ETBU partnered with Amazon Outreach, an organization working with Brazilian missionaries to spread the Gospel in the Amazon River region.

A 75-foot boat served as the home for the team, where they ate, slept in hammocks, practiced fishing and traveled the Amazon and its Rio Negro tributary ministering in nine different villages along the way.

The team began each day with worship on the boat with the translators and crew before embarking on such ministries as transporting equipment and building a water well in the village of Santa Maria; helping in a medical and dental clinic; assisting an eyeglass ministry; and hosting Vacation Bible Schools.

Team members concluded each day by fishing, swimming in the river, playing soccer with Brazilian youth and attending village church services and taking part in the Lord’s Supper. ETBU graduate student Zach Ervin led worship and various fishing team members shared their testimonies.

“The way God moves in the people and in the missionaries is something special.” said Brett Clark, a sophomore business administration major. “This was a humbling experience for me and one that I will never forget.”

Jared Penton, a junior accounting major, described the trip as “eye-opening, from experiencing another culture to spreading the love of God. It was rewarding to see the different ways in which God was working through the team and the villagers.”

Cameron Burger, who is leading the 12-member ETBU bass fishing team in its second year, noted, “Removing technology from our day-to-day lives allowed us to focus on the people of the Amazon and grow spiritually. Each member stepped outside of their comfort zone.”

Ryan Erwin, ETBU vice president for athletics who joined the trip, said, “I cannot put into words the experiences these guys and I shared this week while on the Amazon. I am beyond proud of every one of them for giving up part of their winter break, their willingness to grow and share their faith, and working to use their God-given talents and abilities to transform the lives of the people they encountered during their time in Brazil.”

The trip to Brazil was ETBU’s fourth Tiger Athletic Mission Experience, which provides student-athletes an opportunity to use their talents as a platform to connect with people and share the Gospel around the world. Volleyball head coach Keely Peterson will be taking her team to Serbia March 9-17 to work with ETBU alumni missionaries Trey and Randi Israel. To follow ETBU’s upcoming athletics mission trips, visit https://tigerathleticmissionexperience.tumblr.com.


Horace Sheffield, Shorter Univ. graduate at age 88, dies

GRIFFIN, Ga. (BP) — Horace Sheffield, 89, who graduated from Shorter University with a long-sought-after bachelor’s degree at age 88, died Jan. 5 at Brightmoor Hospice in Griffin, Ga.

Sheffield first enrolled at Shorter in 1961 but left without a diploma in 1965 because his daughters were soon to enter college. The former pastor and director of missions received his bachelor of science degree in Christian studies in May 2017, the first graduate of Shorter’s online degree program in that field.

“I didn’t care about having a diploma back then, but I’m getting my degree this time,” he was quoted as saying. His story garnered attention from television networks ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox and such media as USA Today, CNN.com and AOL.

Sheffield said he was inspired to complete his degree after reading a magazine article stating that senior citizens often can attend certain colleges and universities without paying tuition. He had left Shorter with 115 hours; in returning to college, he was helped by a neighbor, Amanda Brannock, a literacy teacher, and the Christian studies faculty.

Sheffield’s two children, five grandchildren and 14 of his 15 great-grandchildren attended the commencement at Shorter’s campus in Rome, Ga.

He had been preaching at a truck stop for three years until the spring of 2017 and, at the time of his graduation, was a Sunday School teacher and Tuesday night visitation participant at Calvary Baptist Church in Barnesville, Ga.

Sheffield preached his first sermon at age 15 in October 1944 and was ordained to the ministry at age 17. As a pastor, he earned more than 25 certificates for his studies and became a traveling growth consultant who taught Bible study courses and leadership training for the Georgia Baptist Convention’s former church training department.

He was preceded in death by his wife Bernice and son Jimmy Sheffield.

To read Baptist Press’ story about Sheffield’s graduation, click here.

    About the Author

  • Baptist College, Christian Index & BP Staff

    Compiled by Baptist Press senior editor Art Toalston from reports by the staffs of Southwest Baptist University, East Texas Baptist University and The Christian Index of the Georgia Baptist Mission Board.

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