ANAHEIM, Calif. (BP) — Leaders at Southern Seminary didn’t have to look far to find the school’s new provost. Seminary President Albert Mohler announced on Wednesday at the school’s annual luncheon at the SBC Annual Meeting in Anaheim, California, that Graham School Dean Paul Akin has been named Southern’s provost and senior vice president for academic administration.
Mohler said seminary leaders searched widely to fill the office, but it became clear that the best candidate was already in the SBTS family. Akin has served as dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism, and Ministry since 2019.
Current Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Administration Matt Hall was recently elected provost of Biola University an evangelical school located a few miles from the site of the SBC’s 2022 annual meeting.
“Faculty affirmation of Paul Akin in this role was simply overwhelming and I understand why,” Mohler said.
Referring to the historic Seminary Hymn, “Soldiers of Christ in Truth Arrayed,” Mohler said: “I am very much looking forward to working with Paul in this new role. He and his wife, Kari, are a wonderful gift to Southern Seminary. As we meet to part and part to meet, the parting and the meeting are both very special, so it is my great joy to make this announcement.”
Akin was 12 years old when he first came to Southern Seminary as his father, Danny Akin, was elected as dean of the School of Theology and senior vice president for academic administration. That was in 1996. Akin surrendered to ministry as a young man and received both his MDiv and PhD from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, where his father serves as president.
Now, Danny Akin and Paul Akin become the first father and son to serve in the same leadership role at Southern Seminary, covering two generations of Southern Baptist life.
“It’s a bit surreal,” Paul Akin said. “I’ve been able to watch what the Lord has done at Southern over the last 30 years. It’s been fun for me to have a front-row seat and also to watch from afar what the Lord has done.”
Akin brings extensive missions experience to his new role.
Following seminary, Akin served for many years on the mission field, working among Muslims in Africa and the Middle East, training missionaries in both local church and seminary contexts. In all, Akin served alongside mission teams in 40 countries. He was later team leader for new missionary sending with the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
When Mohler approached him about the new role, Akin said he immediately sought the counsel of his father, who served in a similar role at Southern for many years in the 1990s and early-2000s.
“Any time you step into any kind of role like this you feel inadequate,” Paul Akin said. “You don’t feel like you belong. One of the first things I did when I had this conversation with Dr. Mohler was to call my dad and ask for his wisdom, insight, and counsel. He was very encouraging. He told me, ‘Paul, if the faculty believes you can serve in this role, then I think you can do that.’
“Dr. Mohler was also very encouraging, saying I had been mentioned by several faculty members. I’m just trusting the Lord, taking it day by day, trusting that the Lord is the one who equips us and gives us the strength we need to do these kinds of roles.”
For the time being, Akin will also remain as dean of the Graham School until a successor can be found, likely by fall, Mohler said. Akin and his wife, Kari, a Louisville native, have four children.
Mohler highlighted the importance of selecting the right candidate for this vital role at the seminary.
“This role is so important at Southern Seminary and beyond,” Mohler said. “Academics are at the very heart of what we do. The credibility of our academic program, the strength of our faculty, the faithfulness of the curriculum, what happens in the classroom is of crucial, crucial importance. This role is so vital. I eagerly look forward to Paul Akin assuming this new role.”