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Southwestern Seminary gifts hit 10?year high of $5.1 million

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)??If money talks, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary is making its most noise in nearly a decade.
Contributions of more than $5.1 million to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary during its 1996?97 fiscal year dwarfed totals for the previous five years and nearly doubled 1995?96 figures for the Fort Worth, Texas, institution. It is the highest total since the 1986?87 fiscal year.
“I think the reason (for the increase) is that our constituency continues to realize that Southwestern is still preparing men and women for ministry,” said Jack Terry, Southwestern’s vice president for institutional advancement.
Gifts to the school dropped sharply three years ago after President Russell Dilday’s departure but have increased steadily since. This year’s surge reflected not only the amount given but also the number of donors and annuities (deferred gifts), which had dwindled to nearly zero in the past two years.
Terry credits the school’s faculty and the “strong, positive” leadership of seminary President Ken Hemphill, who took office in 1994. Hemphill has provided “solid direction, and people once again are encouraged to be generous to the seminary,” he said.
Terry added the excellence of the faculty members and the stability they have provided throughout the recent transition and continue to provide also have positively influenced donors.
Nearly one?fifth of the contributions for the past year came from a single gift by Austin businessman Harold Riley for the construction of the proposed center for continuing education. The first phase of the center will be named in honor of Riley’s former pastor, Ralph M. Smith, who served at Hyde Park Baptist Church in Austin 36 years. Riley, a deacon in the church, previously had donated $60,000 toward construction of the center.
The first phase of the building is expected to be completed by fall 1998. Just over $3.8 million of the $7.5 million needed for the center has been raised.
“People have recognized our commitment to the continuing education of pastors, missionaries and other ministers, as we attempt to provide facilities that will allow us to hold conferences and have the participants stay on campus,” Terry said.
When completed, the building will have 96 guest rooms and conference facilities for 1,000 participants.
The estate of Myra K. Slover yielded another significant gift, $300,000. Slover, who died in December 1996, and her late husband, Roy, donated money to the school in the past and were its first $1 million donors. The seminary’s Recreation and Aerobics Center, which opened in 1979, is named in their honor.

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  • Matt Sanders