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SWBTS trustees elect president, chancellor; adopt new plan, budget, programs

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) – The election of David S. Dockery as 10th president and O.S. Hawkins to a new position as chancellor marked a historic spring meeting of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary board of trustees.

Meeting April 17-19, trustees also approved “Advance Southwestern: 2030,” a new institutional plan, a 2023-2024 budget, elected new officers and approved academic programs and faculty elections, promotions, sabbaticals and academic chairs, among other actions. All actions of the board were unanimous.

The seminary community gathered for a special prayer chapel for the trustees on April 18, led by Matt Queen, interim provost and vice president for academic administration, and Melana Hunt Monroe, daughter of former Southwestern faculty member T.W. Hunt. The service was based on Psalm 90:17, the theme verse for the academic year established by Dockery in September, and the Lord’s Prayer.

The elections of Dockery and Hawkins to their new roles come nearly seven months after being named as interim president and senior advisor and ambassador-at-large, respectively, in a special-called trustee meeting, Sept. 27, 2022, following the resignation of Adam W. Greenway.

“Advance Southwestern: 2030” is an updated and expanded version of an academic plan adopted in 2021, and was the collaborative effort of the interim administration, faculty, and staff involving dozens.

“This plan will pave the way for a, hopefully, coordinated, concerted, collaborative effort together across this campus,” Dockery told trustees in his first remarks as president. “This plan did not come about because of one person. It did not come about because of a small group of people. It has contributions from every area of the campus that have spoken into this plan and identify the priorities for their area, things that they think will speak to the advancement of this place.”

“The Plan seeks to provide guidance for the administration, faculty, and staff regarding academic, educational, and student matters,” the 39-page document says in the introduction. “Designed with the hope of bringing about institutional renewal and consensus, the Plan serves as both an audit of our current situation and a pointer to the future, recognizing the vital need to bring much needed unity and synergy to the Southwestern community.”

In addition to new vision, identity and mission statements, the plan includes six core values of the institution: grace filled, Christ centered, scripturally grounded, confessionally guided, student focused and globally engaged.

“Our hope is that such a Plan will help to develop a shared vision and consensus to help bring renewal to Southwestern Seminary for the years ahead,” the Plan says.

Acting on recommendations from the Academic Administration Committee, trustees approved four curriculum changes: two in the Roy J. Fish School of Evangelism and Missions adding the Master of Divinity in Spanish and the Master of Theological Studies (MTS) in Portuguese, and two in the Jack D. Terry School of Educational Ministries to offer a master’s concentration in Ministry to Women, as approved by both the School of Theology and Terry School faculty, and a master’s concentration in Collegiate Ministry. All new programs will begin in the fall 2023 semester, other than the Portuguese MTS, which will be available in 2024.

In matters pertaining to faculty, trustees named Mark E. Taylor to the Wesley Harrison Chair of New Testament and Chris Osborne to the James T. Draper Chair of Pastoral Ministry, both in the School of Theology, effective August 1.

Trustees also promoted John D. Massey to professor of missions and Hongyi Yang to associate professor of world Christianity, both in the Fish School, effective August 1. Massey also serves as dean of the Fish School and Charles F. Stanley Chair for the Advancement of Global Christianity.

Elected to the faculty effective August 1 were Adam Dodd, assistant professor of Old Testament and biblical backgrounds in the School of Theology; Jeremiah Kim, associate professor of systematic theology in the School of Theology and director of the Korean D.Min. program; and Lilly H. Park, associate professor of biblical counseling in the Terry School.

Faculty members approved for a renewed three-year term as presidential appointees were Amy Crider, associate professor of foundations of education in the Terry School; Coleman Ford, assistant professor of humanities in Texas Baptist College; Rebekah Naylor, distinguished professor of missions and missionary-in-residence in the Fish School; and Ken Magnuson, professor of Christian ethics in the School of Theology. All are effective August 1.

Four members of the faculty were approved for partial sabbaticals during the spring 2024 semester: Robert Caldwell, professor of church history; Allen Lott, professor of music history; Dean Sieberhagen, associate professor of Islamic studies and Vernon D. and Jeannette Davidson Chair of Missions; and Hongyi Yang, assistant professor of world Christianity and director of Chinese Language Programs.

Trustees also approved students nominated by the faculty and certified by the registrar as having met all requirements for spring 2023 graduation, as well as a new faculty manual.

Roberts reported that a trustee task force evaluated the former president’s expenses and financial management, following up on a request from trustees during their fall meeting. He said the task force “was given unfettered access by the administration to all financial records of the institution, and concluded there were instances of imprudent, unwise and some activities contrary to institutional policies. These findings, however, did not rise to the level of requiring further action based on what is currently known. …

“The findings demonstrated a need for greater accountability and oversight for the institution. As a result, new financial guardrails will be implemented to provide for greater accountability to the trustees in order to prevent similar decision making in the future.”

A budget for fiscal year 2024 of $35.9 million was approved, which is similar to the current fiscal year budget, as adjusted by the board in its fall meeting. Trustees also approved a capital budget for 2024 with a list of priority items in deferred maintenance to address as possible with approval of the Business Administration Committee (BAC).

Trustees affirmed the BAC’s decision to sell B.H. Carroll Park Apartments, student housing that is not contiguous with the main campus. In March, seminary officials announced a non-binding agreement for an $11 million acquisition of 15 acres of the Carroll Park property by the Fort Worth Housing Finance Corporation, the housing development arm of the City of Fort Worth. The city plans to use the property to provide housing for 140 vulnerable families, including victims of domestic violence and homeless members of the community.

Trustees authorized the BAC to negotiate details of an agreement with Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, to use seminary property for the purpose of establishing a pregnancy care center for women, expanding Prestonwood Pregnancy Center’s ministry to Fort Worth.

“We’re grateful for the relationship and partnership with Prestonwood and the opportunity to extend the partnership through this agreement,” said John Rayburn, BAC chairman. “The Prestonwood Pregnancy Center will allow new ministry opportunities for Southwestern students and personnel, particularly in the areas of the women’s program, biblical counseling, and evangelistic opportunities.”

John Horn, chairman of the Institutional Advancement Committee, reported that the Office of Admissions “has had great results in the last nine months” as they have seen “Preview Days, recruitment, applications, enrollment hours, [and] retention hours greatly increase” from 2022 to 2023. Horn added that “enrollment and student services have set goals diligently building a culture of partnership and engagement between faculty, staff, and students.”

New officers of the board were elected for the 2023-2024 academic year: Jonathan Richard (New Mexico), pastor of First Baptist Church of Estancia, New Mexico, chairman; Robert Brown (Tennessee), executive director of Lakeway Christian Schools in Morristown, Tennessee, vice chairman; and Angela Duncan (At-Large), a homemaker in Granbury, Texas, secretary.

In other actions, trustees approved:

  • an updated GuideStone Investment Policy Statement;
  • the fiscal year 2024 housing allowance for eligible faculty and staff; and
  • that Guinn Smith & Co. be contracted with to conduct the fiscal year 2023 financial audit.

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