Board officers issue ‘Summary of Findings’ by trustee Task Force

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Summary of Findings
Southwestern Seminary Board of Trustees Task Force
June 7, 2023

“The President shall have direct charge of, full supervision over, and shall be responsible for all funds and properties of the Seminary.”
Southwestern Seminary Bylaw 5.4

During the special meeting of the Southwestern Seminary Board of Trustees on May 30, trustees overwhelmingly voted to request the officers to publish a summary of the findings of the work of the task force empaneled to review expenditures related to the President’s home, the President’s office, and any personal expenditures by the former President. The Board requested officers to “publish audited financials as one comprehensive report for the fiscal years 2002-2022 and examples of presidential expenses as generated by the task force review.”

The task force, unanimously authorized during the Fall 2022 meeting, was composed of John Rayburn, chairman, George West, Mike Bussey, Josh Grega, and Aaron Sligar (who was added to the task force in March). The findings of this review, based on extensive research by the task force, along with recommendations for preventing such issues in the future, were presented to trustees at their Spring 2023 meeting. Matters covered by the task force included suggested strengthened financial guardrails, evaluation of possible sale of portions of the campus, and spending habits of the former President.

The task force concluded that Adam Greenway engaged in a pattern of spending that the task force believes did not reflect proper stewardship of seminary resources. This pattern of spending occurred without deference to financial controls and seminary financial policies.

Between 2019 and 2022, over $1.5 million was spent on renovations, furnishings, and related expenses to the President’s home. These expenditures were made at a time when the seminary was making significant budget cuts, including the reduction of faculty personnel and positions. Examples of expenses for the President’s home include $59,865.79 for Christmas decorations, more than $25,000 for artwork, and $11,123.49 for an espresso machine and accessories. Despite extensive renovations completed early in his tenure, further optional work was done on the President’s home in late 2021 when more than $180,000 was spent on HVAC work.

The task force found that a significant amount of the work done on the President’s home was carried out by the seminary’s facilities team, creating an unsustainable demand, and contributing to poor morale and high turnover. It was reported that employees were often asked to do the same job multiple times to meet Greenway’s demanding expectations. Multiple change orders were also true with outside contractors, increasing costs of the projects.

Between the summer of 2020 and early 2021, over $500,000 was spent on the President’s office, including renovations and furniture.

The task force also found numerous examples of improper expenses charged to the seminary by Greenway himself and/or individuals whom he authorized to use his seminary credit card in violation of seminary policy, including $9,936.05 for first-class airfare for Greenway, his family, and a family friend to Anaheim, California, for the 2022 Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting, $4,850.51 for the framing of personal diplomas, and $920 for a metal University of Florida Gator head decoration (one of Greenway’s favorite college athletic programs).

Published with these findings is a compilation of all the audited financials of the seminary, 2002-2022, introduced with an overview with pertinent details. The audited financials for 2021-2022 are being published for the first time here in advance of their appearance in the 2023 SBC Annual, where all the other financials were previously published each year. The compilation and overview demonstrate that the financial challenges at Southwestern are longstanding. Unfortunately, the trustees’ hopes of correction in this financial trajectory in the 2019 election of Greenway were not realized.

We grieve the pattern of poor stewardship evident in this summary of the task force’s findings. We wish to express our gratitude to those seminary employees who sought to enforce existing policies and challenge the pattern of spending noted above, even as their efforts were met with resistance.

We wish to underscore Chairman Roberts’ May 30 statement, “I can state confidently that the Board leadership has exercised aggressively its fiduciary duties, with trustees giving collectively thousands of hours of their time in doing so. Financial guardrails have been and continue to be researched and put in place. One example is that the chairman is now examining the expense reports of the President and the Seminary Leadership Team on a quarterly basis.”

The Board of Trustees and administrative leadership at the seminary are committed to every appropriate measure that will ensure proper stewardship of seminary resources in a manner that is consistent with the mission of Southwestern Seminary.

The officers commend the tireless work of the task force members who conscientiously and carefully reviewed voluminous materials and worked collaboratively to bring these findings to the Board. These findings are being published to provide as much transparency as possible. The officers remain committed to lead the Board of Trustees to steward faithfully their responsibility to the Southern Baptist Convention to govern this historic institution on behalf of Southern Baptists.

The Board enthusiastically supports President David S. Dockery and Chancellor O.S. Hawkins as they lead Southwestern Seminary. Although we must be candid to note that significant financial challenges remain, the new administration has made difficult decisions to reduce spending, including in overall staffing of the institution, while prioritizing the educational mission of the seminary. These reductions, coupled with promising increases in undesignated giving and upticks in enrollment and credit hours taken, are important first steps to stabilizing the institution’s financial standing.

We echo Chairman Roberts’ May 30 statement joining President Dockery and “the seminary community in his call for prayer for the institution seeking God’s favor (Ps. 90:17) in its vital work of biblically educating and equipping Christian men and women for ministry which encourages the priority of the Great Commandment and the fulfilment of the Great Commission. We ask all Southern Baptists to join us in this prayer.”

Editor’s note: An overview with pertinent details about the audited financials of the seminary, 2002-2022, are available here. The audited financials of the seminary, 2002-2022, are available here.