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Southwestern theology dean faces reassignment decision

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–A new dean of globalization position is being created at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and the dean of the school of theology has been asked to become the inaugural dean.

President Kenneth S. Hemphill announced his intention to create the new position and the change in David Crutchley’s assignment in a meeting of the theology school faculty Nov. 29.

“It is a decision that I believe is in the best interest of Southwestern and Dr. Crutchley,” Hemphill told the faculty.

David Crutchley was elected dean of the seminary’s school of theology in March 2000. He will continue serving as dean of theology until Dec. 31 and then will return to the classroom while he prays about God’s direction for his next stage of ministry.

After Hemphill spoke to the faculty, Crutchley gave a brief response thanking Hemphill for the opportunity to serve and the faculty and his staff for their support. Crutchley said he had not yet found peace with the new assignment.

Hemphill told the faculty he was surprised and disappointed that Crutchley did not respond enthusiastically to the reassignment. “I realize now that he needs sufficient time to pray through this matter. I believe David is a man of integrity, and he is now considering his options as he returns to the classroom.” Hemphill later said he is praying that Crutchley — whom he called one of the seminary’s most popular teachers — will take the position.

Globalization has become one of Hemphill’s major emphases in recent years, and he told the faculty he came to realize early in the fall that Crutchley could more effectively utilize his skills and passion by directing the seminary’s global focus. Hemphill said the move — which he based on “the greatest needs of the seminary and the greatest strengths and passion of Dr. Crutchley” — was “one component of our ongoing reorganization.”

Southwestern has become increasingly global in its student body and strategic focus during Hemphill’s presidency. During his seven years as president, international student enrollment has climbed from 138 to a record 245 students this semester, and the seminary has developed partnerships with seminaries in Lebanon, Cuba, South Korea, India and Germany.

The new dean of globalization will direct Southwestern’s global efforts by giving academic and visionary oversight to the World Missions Center and relationships with international institutions and by mobilizing the seminary faculty to consider global mission and classroom opportunities. The dean will serve as seminary liaison to Baptist mission agencies.

“The critical issue for me is to ensure that our personnel are in the position that maximizes their greatest strengths and passion. I believe that this new position will best utilize David’s missions background, gifts and passion,” Hemphill said.

Hemphill concluded by encouraging the faculty “to pray for Dr. Crutchley as he seeks God’s will” and for himself as he guides Southwestern, and he challenged them to continue to pull together as a team for the good of the seminary.

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  • David Porter