FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) — Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary trustees elected Steven W. Smith as vice president for student services and communications, Leo Day as dean of the school of church music and Michael Wilkinson as dean of the College at Southwestern during a special called session of the trustee executive committee July 24. Smith, Day and Wilkinson will begin their new responsibilities effective Aug. 1.
“This is an important moment for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary,” seminary President Paige Patterson said. “The men elected today step into some large shoes, but they do so like the champions they are. They are men ‘after God’s own heart,’ who love and serve Him faithfully.”
Smith, who has served as dean of the College at Southwestern and professor of communication since 2009, fills the position vacated by Thomas White, who was named president of Cedarville University in Ohio in June. Prior to Smith’s appointment as dean of the college, he served as assistant professor of preaching and associate dean for the professional doctoral program at Southwestern.
“Steven Smith’s success in everything to which he has placed his hand is the first reason why I suggested him,” Patterson said.
“He is a genuine man of God, holds degrees in communication, is a fabulous preacher and brings to the task an almost unlimited variety of abilities.”
Smith earned his Ph.D. in communication from Regent University in 2003 and holds a master of divinity degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in North Carolina and a bachelor of science in communication from Liberty University. In addition to his experience as a professor, Smith served as senior pastor of Salem Baptist Church in Richmond, Va., from 1995–2003. He is the author of “Dying to Preach: Embracing the Cross in the Pulpit” (2009) and has contributed articles for academic journals as well as blogs.
Day has served as minister of music at Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, Fla., since 2005. As dean of the school of church music, he replaces Stephen Johnson, who left Southwestern to become dean of Azusa Pacific University’s new college of music and the arts in June.
“Leo Day is one of the few men in America who functions with a full grasp of both the church and the academic worlds,” Patterson said. “A beautiful tenor voice, a love for teaching and years of incredible success as a minister of music in a mega-church have prepared him perfectly for the assignment as dean for our school of church music.”
Along with his ministry at Olive Baptist Church, Day has served as an adjunct voice professor for the University of West Florida in Pensacola since 2008. Prior to coming on staff at the church, Day served as associate professor of voice at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary from 1999–2005 and instructor of voice at William Carey College from 1990–99.
“Dr. Leo Day is an accomplished vocalist, an experienced academic and a gifted and successful director of church music ministry,” said Craig Blaising, Southwestern’s provost and executive vice president. “He has all the qualities that will lead Southwestern’s school of church music to prepare a new generation to lead churches in musical worship with excellence and passion for Christ.”
Day earned a Ph.D. in vocal performance from Louisiana State University (2000), a master of music in vocal performance from Eastman School of Music (1990) and a bachelor’s of music in vocal performance from William Carey College (1988). He performs frequently across the United States and has performed professionally with the Hawaii Opera Theatre of Honolulu. Day has recorded two solo albums: “He Loves Me” (2003) and “Solace for the Soul” (2005).
With Smith transitioning to one of Southwestern’s vice presidential posts, trustees elected Michael Wilkinson as the third dean of the College of Southwestern, which launched in 2005. Wilkinson has served as assistant professor of Bible in the college since 2012.
“Mike Wilkinson served for years in Central Baptist Church in College Station, a church alive with students,” Patterson said. “His love for students, his growing recognition as a theologian and Anabaptist scholar, and his devotion to the life of the family make him ideal as a paradigm for students.”
Wilkinson earned his master of divinity (1990) and Ph.D. (2011) from Southwestern and his bachelor of arts in mathematics from the University of Texas at Arlington. Prior to joining Southwestern’s faculty, he served as an associate pastor at First Baptist Church in Rockwall, Texas, from 2007–12 and at Central Baptist Church, near Texas A&M University, from 1993–2007.
“Although Dr. Wilkinson was elected to a full-time position in the college only a year ago, he has taught adjunctively for several years with distinction while completing his Ph.D.,” Blaising said. “In addition, he brings years of service in local church ministry that gives him both a pastoral concern and a team-building perspective that will serve him well in leading the College at Southwestern.”
During his 22 years in ministry, Wilkinson has served primarily as a college and single adults pastor as well as missions pastor. He is a contributing author to the forthcoming B&H Academic publication, “The Anabaptists and Contemporary Baptists,” scheduled for release in September.
For additional stories about Smith, Day and Wilkinson, go to www.swbts.edu/campus-news.
Other trustee action
Trustees named Evan Lenow as the Bobby L. and Janis Eklund Chair of Stewardship. Lenow serves as assistant professor of ethics, associate director of the Richard Land Center for Cultural Engagement and chair of the ethics department at Southwestern.
Blaising said stewardship “connects to so many aspects of Christian ministry that it can be viewed from different areas in the seminary curriculum: theology, biblical studies, pastoral ministries, etc. Dr. Lenow brings his particular expertise in Christian ethics to the teaching of stewardship, which especially calls attention to stewardship as an aspect of Christian living. Dr. Lenow has served with distinction as director of the Riley Center and as associate director of the Richard Land Center for Cultural Engagement. I look forward to his leadership in this key area of Christian stewardship at Southwestern.”
Keith Collier is director of news and information for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas (www.swbts.edu/campusnews).