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Southern Seminary dean tapped to oversee accreditation review

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–A Southern Baptist Theological Seminary dean is changing positions in order to oversee the seminary’s upcoming accreditation review process.

Dennis Williams, dean of the School of Christian Education and Leadership, will become dean of institutional assessment Aug. 1 — the same day the seminary’s accreditation review process begins. The newly created position will allow Williams to lead the process, which runs through July 31, 2003. Southern is accredited by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).

“Dennis has demonstrated experience and skills in dealing with the accreditation process and his academic background will be of great value in this process,” Southern President R. Albert Mohler Jr. said.

Williams, who has been dean of the School of Christian Education and Leadership since 1994, will remain in that position until a replacement is found. Mohler said a search process has begun.

Before coming to Southern, Williams was professor of educational ministries and administration at Denver Seminary from 1971-94. He graduated from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas, earning a master of religious education degree in 1968 and a doctorate in 1972. Earlier this year he served as curriculum evaluator for the master of pastoral ministry degree at Toccoa Falls College (Ga.), which is also up for review by SACS.

“This will be an intensive experience, requiring significant investment of time, energy, finances and attention,” Mohler said of the accreditation review process. “My determination is that we will emerge from this process, not only with an outstanding review of institutional excellence, but with planning resources for the next ten-year period.”

The seminary is also looking for a new dean for the School of Church Music and Worship. Thomas Bolton is serving as interim dean in place of Lloyd Mims, who resigned to become dean of the School of Music and Fine Arts at Palm Beach Atlantic College in Florida. Mims had been dean of Southern’s School of Church Music since 1993. He began teaching at Southern in 1980. His wife, Marilyn, also served on the seminary faculty.

“We will greatly miss Lloyd and Marilyn Mims as they follow God’s call to another place of service,” Mohler said. “Lloyd has served with great faithfulness as dean of the School of Church Music and Worship, and he leaves a legacy of lives and ministries shaped by his personal gifts and warm spirit. His musical leadership will also be missed in seminary worship.”

Bolton has been at Southern since 1996, serving as associate dean of professional studies within the music school. From 1989-96 he was minister of music at First Baptist Church, Little Rock, Ark., and previously was professor of music at Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, Ark. He graduated from the University of North Texas, earning a master of music in musicology degree in 1973 and a doctor of philosophy in musicology in 1980.

Bolton said there is plenty to be excited about within the seminary’s School of Church Music and Worship.

This fall the school will introduce the 48-hour master of arts in worship degree, which is designed for students who do not have a background in music but want a music foundation. The school will also add a new faculty member, Carl Stam, who was formerly pastor of music and worship at a church in North Carolina. He will join the school as an associate professor.

The school also is beginning a new program aimed at both students and non-students. Dubbed the Seminary Academy of Music, the goal is to give voice and instrumental lessons to people of all ages. Pre-school children will participate in the academy’s Kindermusik program. Seminary students will form the core of the academy’s teachers.

“There are classes for children 18 months and above. … I really think that this is going to take off,” Bolton said. “There are a number of Kindermusik classes here in Louisville that are at capacity and are turning people away.”

Mohler said he hopes to have new deans in place within a few months.

“We are determined to find leadership equipped and committed to serve the real needs of our churches for the next generation,” he said. “For this reason, I’m emphasizing the issue of worship for the School of Church Music and Worship, and leadership for the School of Christian Education and Leadership.”

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  • Michael Foust