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Southwestern theology school restructured, Blaising remains dean

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–The administrative structure of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s theology school has been modified, and executive vice president and provost Craig Blaising will continue to serve as dean of the school for an “indefinite period,” he said.

Southwestern President Kenneth S. Hemphill asked Blaising to continue functioning as dean while the administrative structure of the theology school is simplified. He has served as acting dean since joining the Fort Worth, Texas, seminary in January.

The revised structure of the school more closely resembles the structure of other seminaries such as Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary where academic deans also serve as vice presidents.

Blaising has appointed five new assistant deans to assist with the development of the theology school and to assume the duties once fulfilled by department chairs. He changed the administrative structure in the school to reduce the administrative load for faculty members, he said.

“We once had 13 department chairs and three division chairs in the school of theology, but we now will have five assistant deans doing the administrative work. We have simply gone to a more efficient structure,” Blaising said. “The assistant deans administer areas which were in the past two or three departments.”

Hemphill and Blaising discussed the changes and agreed they were appropriate for the school. Hemphill said that the new deans are among the finest Christian scholars today.

“Our new assistant deans are well qualified academically and have passion and vision for their disciplines,” Hemphill said. The new assistant dean structure should also benefit the students, Hemphill added.

“Its main purpose is to simplify our academic structure. It will pull our faculty together into cohesive groups and better coordinate our academic offerings, but this new structure should greatly benefit our students as our faculty work together in larger divisions rather than in multiple departments.”

Blaising shared the changes with the theology faculty at a special meeting May 16. He shared the news with seminary administrative staff May 24.

The consolidation of the dean’s office with the office of the executive vice president and provost and the appointment of assistant deans will not alter the function of the associate deans of the school, Blaising said.

Paul Stevens will continue serving as associate dean for the doctor of ministry program. Karen Bullock will continue serving as associate dean for the Ph.D. program. George Klein will continue serving as associate dean for advanced studies and as overseer of all master’s-level graduate programs in the school.

The associate deans, five assistant deans and dean of the school will form the academic council for the theology school.

Michael Dean, chairman of Southwestern’s board of trustees and pastor of Travis Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Worth, said that the trustees support Blaising as dean during the reorganization of the theology school.

“Dr. Blaising’s decision to function as the dean of the school of theology is in keeping with his desire to give hands-on leadership to the school during these important days of transition. The trustees rejoice in Dr.
Hemphill’s vision to position Southwestern Seminary to become the premier provider of theological education to the evangelical world. Dr. Blaising’s work in his first months in the position are important steps towards that goal.”

Those appointed to assistant dean were:

–Mike Barnett, associate professor of missions, who will serve as assistant dean for evangelism and missions studies and also as the director of the World Missions Center.

–Larry Ashlock, assistant professor of pastoral ministry, who will serve as assistant dean for preaching and pastoral studies.

–Doug Blount, associate professor of philosophy, who will serve as assistant dean for ethics and philosophical studies. He will also oversee modern languages.

–Paul Wolfe, associate professor of New Testament, who will serve as assistant dean for the biblical studies division. He will oversee the areas of Old Testament, New Testament and biblical backgrounds.

–Jeffrey Bingham, recently elected to the faculty as professor of historical theology, who will serve as assistant dean for theological studies division, overseeing the areas systematic theology and church history.

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  • Gregory Tomlin