God is doing “a fresh and marvelous work” on Seminary Hill, President Adam W. Greenway declared to Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s board of trustees during their spring meeting, April 12-13.
During the meeting, Greenway announced the seminary plans to resume “full, normal on-campus operations in the fall,” and the board approved the 2021-2022 budget, elected officers, received encouraging enrollment updates, approved changes to bylaws and degree programs, promoted faculty, received announcement of the appointment of six new faculty, and conducted other business.
This meeting was the board’s first in-person gathering since the fall of 2019. COVID-19 restrictions resulted in both the spring and fall 2020 meetings being held in a primarily virtual format. During the meeting, social distancing was practiced, and some board members participated via videoconferencing.
During his president’s report, Greenway shared that, despite the adversity faced in the last year, including the global pandemic and “unprecedented” legal issues, “the state of Southwestern is strong.”
“I cannot, to our board, commend strongly enough the resiliency of our faculty and our staff,” Greenway said, “who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to be as flexible as they can be, to ensure that our students remain the priority in all that we do here at Southwestern Seminary.”
Speaking of the “remarkable things” God has done to “provide for and sustain” the student body, Greenway noted that enrollment has been steady over the last year, with the number of graduate applications for the fall 2021 semester showing an 83 percent increase over last year, and the number of undergraduate applications showing an increase of 103 percent.
“Despite the fact that we have not had the opportunities to be in venues for major recruiting events and to be on the road, the Lord is reawakening prospective students to the marvelous educational opportunities that await them here at Southwestern Seminary across our five schools,” Greenway said. “And that is the tremendous fruit of what has been happening in terms of our investments in admissions and enrollment efforts.”
Greenway also noted God’s financial provision, with the 2021-2022 budget representing an 11.5 percent increase over the current year’s budget. Greenway said this financial plan is “an indication that the Lord is returning our seminary to a position of financial health and strength.”
“We’re going to close this fiscal year in a position of fiscal vitality, health, and strength because of the blessing of the Lord and because of the stewardship that our administration is committed to providing under the direction and leadership of you, our board of trustees, particularly our Business Administration Committee,” Greenway said.
Regarding the seminary’s ongoing response to COVID-19, Greenway said Southwestern has maintained “a position of caution and concern as we close out this spring semester,” but that the institution plans to resume “full, normal on-campus operations” beginning this August.
“We are thankful for all that technology allows us to do, but we still believe there is something special that happens when we get faculty and students together, sharing space and being able to share the Gospel of grace together,” he said.
Finally, Greenway addressed the joint lawsuit with Baylor University against the Harold E. Riley Foundation, which was resolved in February.
“No institution takes on legal matters lightly,” Greenway said, “and it is something that we do not seek to engage in. But there are times where justice demands that we act. And God, in His marvelous providence, vindicated this institution powerfully and demonstrably in what happened in terms of the legal settlement earlier this year, in the resources that now have come and will be coming to support students here at Southwestern Seminary.”
Greenway concluded his report by declaring that the “future remains exceptionally bright—as bright as a West Texas sunset—for Southwestern Seminary.” He continued, “The Lord is doing a fresh and marvelous work here on Seminary Hill, and I am thankful every day for the trust that you have placed in me … as president of my beloved alma mater, The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.”
Greenway informed the board of the appointment of six new faculty members—four in Scarborough College and two in the Roy J. Fish School of Evangelism and Missions:
The board adopted the Academic Administration Committee’s recommendation that the following faculty receive a full sabbatical for the 2021-2022 academic year: David L. Allen, distinguished professor of preaching; Eric Mitchell, professor of Old Testament and biblical backgrounds; Matt Queen, associate professor of evangelism; and Malcolm B. Yarnell III, research professor of theology.
The board also approved the following faculty rank promotions: Nathan Burggraff, to associate professor of music theory; Ben Caston, to professor of voice; Karen Kennemur, to professor of children’s ministry; Jeremiah Kim, to associate professor of theology; and Matt Queen, to professor of evangelism.
The board affirmed multiple recommendations from the Academic Administration Committee regarding degree programs. First, they approved two new associate’s degrees for Scarborough College—the 60-hour Associate of Arts in Christian Studies, and the 60-hour Associate of Arts in Humanities. Second, they approved the revision to two of the college’s bachelor’s degrees—the 123-hour Bachelor of Arts in Christian Studies and the 126-hour Bachelor of Arts in Humanities.
Third, the board voted to phase out the Master of Arts in Philosophy and Master of Arts in Great Commission Apologetics degrees.
The Academic Administration Committee’s final recommendation, which the board adopted, was to approve those students nominated by the faculty and certified by the registrar as having met all requirements for spring 2021 graduation.
Kevin Ueckert, chairman of the Academic Administration Committee, concluded his report to the board by noting the committee has “a great sense of confidence in the direction of our leadership at the seminary.”
“We heard from all the academic deans and were thoroughly impressed in regard to their enthusiasm and their vision for leading our seminary forward to equip the students to be ministers and servants all over the world,” he said.
At the recommendation of the Business Administration Committee, the board approved a $34.4 million budget for 2021-2022, representing an increase of 11.5 percent over the current year budget, and an increase of 5.3 percent over the 2019-2020 budget year.
John Rayburn, chairman of the Business Administration Committee, specifically thanked R. Clark Logan Jr., vice president for business administration, and his team, calling them “impressive” in their planning and strategy.
Regarding the seminary’s financial situation, Rayburn said, “The news is good news, and financially speaking, we're in good hands.”
In other recommendations from the Business Administration Committee, the board authorized the president to designate at fiscal year-end (July 31, 2021) the transfer of any available excess income over expense from operations to capital improvements, salary supplements, other projects and/or reserve for contingences. The board also authorized the president to designate the transfer of any available excess income over expense from auxiliary enterprises to student housing debt retirement, essential physical improvements for auxiliary enterprise operations, or education and general expenditures beyond education and general revenue.
Additionally, the board approved the engagement of Guinn Smith & Co. to perform the annual financial audit and authorized an exception to internal investment policy with regard to the sale of Citizens, Inc., stock.
At the recommendation of the Strategic Initiatives and Governance Committee, and resulting from the past year’s legal matters as well as the seminary’s decennial accreditation review, the board approved extensive amendments to the seminary’s bylaws designed to simplify, clarify, and update language and policy.
Trustees also elected board officers: as chairman, Danny Roberts, executive pastor of North Richland Hills Baptist Church in North Richland Hills, Texas; as vice chairman, Jonathan Richard, senior pastor of First Baptist Church Estancia in Estancia, New Mexico; and as secretary, Jamie Green, retired speech-language pathologist in Katy, Texas.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Greenway recognized and thanked the outgoing members of the board of trustees, who completed their terms of service: Denise Ewing, Randy Martin, Eddie Miller, Herschel Smith, and former board chairman Kevin Ueckert. He also personally recognized outgoing chairman Philip Levant for his leadership of the board over the past two years.
“Chairman Levant will go down in history as one of the most consequential chairs of our board of trustees because of the issues that he has had to navigate … particularly in the global pandemic of COVID-19 and in the unprecedented legal adversity we have faced this last year,” Greenway said. “And in every situation that called for courage, conviction, and clarity, Philip Levant provided that as the chairman of our board of trustees.”
“We are a better seminary today than we were two years ago because of your leadership,” Greenway continued. “And you will hand off to Danny Roberts after the close of the SBC annual meeting a stronger Southwestern Seminary, a more united board of trustees, and a clearer sense of the mutual respect and responsibility entrusted between the governance of the board of trustees and the management of the seminary by the administration.”
In his concluding remarks before adjourning the meeting, Levant affirmed, “We are in a strong position now, and that will only get better—by the grace of God, and by the hard work that the Southwestern family is doing.”