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SWBTS trustees fill 9 positions; expand program in San Antonio

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)–Trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary elected seven faculty members, including two new deans, during their semiannual meeting in Fort Worth, Texas, April 4.

Trustees also elected a new vice president for institutional advancement and approved the expansion of the seminary’s San Antonio extension program. Part of that expansion included naming Rudy González, who has served as the seminary’s vice president for student services since 2003, as dean of the program.

González, 52, will take up duties as the dean of the seminary’s newly named William R. Marshall Center for Theological Studies this summer. The center is located on the campus of Parkhills Baptist Church.

Moving to San Antonio completes a full circle for González. The son of Mexican immigrants, he was raised in the city. He said he is looking forward to training ministers in central and south Texas, and especially reaching out to the Hispanic community there.

“Virginia and I always planned to retire in San Antonio anyway,” González said. “We are thrilled that plans for moving there have just been moved up a bit. It’s a tremendous opportunity for Southwestern to develop a whole new generation of church ministers and preachers in San Antonio, central Texas and beyond.”

The appointment of González is part of the trustees’ strategy to elevate the seminary’s San Antonio extension center to the level of a fully accredited, degree-granting school, as was done in Houston in 2003 with the J. Dalton Havard School for Theological Studies. González is a graduate of Southwestern Seminary, Princeton Theological Seminary and Baylor University.

Trustees elected Mike C. Hughes as vice president for institutional advancement. Hughes has been serving as acting vice president since January. Formerly a car dealer in Abilene, Texas, Hughes sold his franchises and came to Southwestern as a student. He began serving as director of business services in 2004. He has served as a hospital board chairman at Hendrick Medical Center in Abilene and as chairman of the Abilene Chamber of Commerce.

“The days of transition from the first 100 years of the seminary’s existence to the next 100 are important,” Hughes said. “The students that will be coming here will change the world and reach the souls of mankind. I am honored to be a part of that.”

Deron Biles, 39, was elected dean of extension education and associate professor of Old Testament in the school of theology.

Biles most recently has worked as the director of church relations with the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention. He holds a master of divinity degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C., and a doctor of philosophy degree from Southwestern.

Trustees elected three other professors to positions in the school of theology.

William A. Dembski, 45, was elected research professor of philosophy, effective June 1. He is best known for helping develop and articulate the theory of Intelligent Design. He is the author and coauthor of numerous books, scholarly articles and textbooks, including “The Design of Life: Discovering Signs of Intelligence in Biological Systems.”

Dembski holds two doctoral degrees: one in mathematics from the University of Chicago and another in philosophy from the University of Illinois at Chicago. And he has earned two master’s degrees: one in philosophy from the University of Illinois at Chicago and the other in divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary.

Trustees elected Steven Ortiz, 43, as associate professor of archaeology and biblical backgrounds. Ortiz is a leading scholar is Near Eastern archaeology and biblical backgrounds. He has led or been involved in numerous archaeological digs in the Holy Land and has authored or coauthored books and articles on the intersection of archaeology and biblical interpretation.

Ortiz holds doctoral and master’s degrees in Near Eastern archaeology from the University of Arizona and a master’s degree in biblical history from Jerusalem University College.

Jay Howell, 30, was elected assistant professor of philosophy. Howell has taught philosophy courses at Southwestern and Baylor for three years. He holds a bachelor’s degree and master of arts degree in philosophy from Baylor University, along with a master of divinity with biblical languages degree and master of theology degree from Southwestern.

Trustees elected Robert Vaughn, 49, as associate professor of administration in the school of educational ministries. For nearly six years, Vaughn has served as associate pastor for administration at First Baptist Church in Fort Smith, Ark. He served previously as a professor and administrator of Christian education at the graduate level. He holds an undergraduate degree from Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee and master’s and doctoral degrees from Southwestern.

L. David Mills, 40, was elected assistant professor of evangelism in the Roy Fish School of Evangelism and Missions. Mills’ experience includes pastoring churches in Georgia, Alabama and North Carolina and serving four years as an evangelism consultant to the Georgia Baptist Convention.

Mills holds a doctor of philosophy and master of theology degree in Christian missions from Southeastern Seminary and a master of divinity with biblical languages degree from Southwestern.

Douglas Wood, 58, was elected associate professor of education and worship in the J. Dalton Havard School for Theological Studies in Houston. Wood has been teaching at the Havard School under presidential appointment for the past year. His focus of ministry has been in the areas of worship and youth and student ministry. He has authored several books on youth ministry, including “The Work of the Minister of Youth,” published by Broadman & Holman.

Wood has a doctor of philosophy degree in youth education and a master of arts in religious education from Southwestern.

Southwestern Seminary President Paige Patterson reported to the trustees that the spiritual life of students on the campus is becoming well-known around the city. “Anytime you have people coming on the campus for spiritual help, you know that the word is out,” he said. “We have had a good response on the part of students, our faculty and employees. We are aware that if you do everything else right but students walk away without a deeper walk with God, you have failed.”

Patterson also said the seminary is doing well financially. He said that there would be new capital expenditures in the future, such as those for a new chapel and a building to house the Roy Fish School of Missions and Evangelism and The College at Southwestern.

“This chapel will not be built with Cooperative Program funds, an increase in fees for students, a decrease in faculty salaries or through any campaign,” Patterson said.

Greg Kingry, vice president for business administration, said the architects and administration had completed the design process for the 3,500-seat, 106,000-square-foot chapel. He also said the plans for a building that will house the evangelism and missions school and the college are in the process of being formulated.

“We don’t want to turn a spade of dirt, as Dr. Patterson has said, until we have 85 or 90 percent of the funding in place,” Kingry said.

In other business, trustees:

— elected Van McClain of New York as trustee chairman. McClain is professor of Old Testament and director of library services at Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary’s New York extension. He has served as chairman and parliamentarian for the Baptist Convention of New York. Trustee Patrick Bullock of Kansas said in nominating McClain that he has “a heart for the local church and the man in the pew.”

“Van McClain will continue the long history of godly men who have led this institution well,” Bullock said. “He is a disciplined individual, and you can see this discipline in his academic achievements and his organizational skills.”

Dean Gage of Texas, executive director and the Bridges Chair for Executive Leadership in Veterinary Medical Education at Texas A&M University, was elected vice chairman. Royal E. Smith (At-Large), a retired psychologist, was re-elected secretary.

— approved a $34.23 million budget for the 2006-07 fiscal year, a slight decrease from the previous year. Kingry said that the flat budget is the result of “a concerted effort to reduce our expenditures.” Within the budget, however, was a 3 percent across-the-board pay increase for seminary employees. Kingry also reported that the seminary’s endowment had increased to $147 million over the past few years.

— approved changes to the master of arts in missiology and master of arts in Islamic studies degree programs. Courses in church history, Old and New Testament, spiritual formation, systematic theology and Greek or Hebrew language were added to the master of arts in missiology program. Similar courses were also added to the master of arts in Islamic studies program as well as courses in applied ministry.

— named the seminary’s extension campus in San Antonio for William R. Marshall, who asked the seminary to establish a campus in the city 28 years ago.

— approved the nomination of Dr. and Mrs. Robert A. Baker and Ed Humphrey to receive the 2006 L.R. Scarborough Award.

A longtime distinguished professor of church history at Southwestern, Baker wrote several history books and the history of the seminary, “Tell the Generations Following,” before his death. Baker was a U.S. Secret Service agent prior to his career in the ministry. He served the seminary from 1942-81. His wife still resides near Fort Worth and recently deeded her property adjacent to the seminary to the institution.

Humphrey is pastor of Wells Branch Baptist Church and CEO of the Partridge Foundation in Horseshoe Bend, Texas. As a graduate and friend of Southwestern, he recommended the name for the William R. Marshall Center for Theological Studies for Southwestern’s extension campus in San Antonio.

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