Many students and alumni recognize Barnard Hall as the place they called home during their time at Southwestern Seminary. But the building, which is now undergoing renovations to make necessary updates in what is Southwestern’s second oldest structure, has served many purposes in its long history dating back to its construction in 1914, not long after Southwestern’s relocation from Waco to Fort Worth.

Before it was converted into a residence hall, Barnard Hall was the central location for training Southwestern’s female students for the mission field. Southwestern had already been training both men and women since the school was established in 1908, but after the seminary’s relocation to Fort Worth in 1910, plans were made to construct a building that would house the Women’s Missionary Training School. The building provided a space uniquely devoted to training the seminary’s female students who had answered the call to a life of ministry and service.

The building opened in 1915, was expanded in 1920 to make room for additional residential space, and has received other updates throughout the years. Standing for 103 years, Barnard Hall has witnessed numerous “firsts,” including: 

  • 1917 – Lou Ella Austin was the first person anywhere to receive a diploma designated “Religious Education.”
  • 1920 – The first Doctor of Theology degree awarded to a woman was conferred upon Mrs. E.O. Thompson.
  • 1939 – Neppie Scarborough, wife of president L.R. Scarborough, began Metochai, an organization for seminary wives. For almost 80 years, Metochai, evolving from the Greek word meaning “partners,” has sought to prepare student wives to be partners in ministry with their husbands. Metochai also provides spiritual growth and fellowship opportunities.
  • 2007 – Terri Stovall was installed as the first (and current) dean of women’s programs. 
  • 2,261 women have graduated over the past 15 years, 72 being conferred with doctoral degrees.

Barnard Hall’s namesake, Floy Barnard, joined the Southwestern faculty in 1933 to teach missionary education and educational arts, and she was later elected dean of the Women’s Missionary Training School in 1942. 

Barnard was also known for her contribution to many areas of denominational life, leadership and teaching. She was active in the Southern Baptist Convention’s Woman’s Missionary Union and contributed to many written works, including Sunday School lessons for the Baptist Sunday School Board.

Barnard served at Southwestern for 27 faithful years, teaching students before retiring in 1960. After her retirement, the building was officially named Barnard Hall at the recommendation of the Women’s Advisory Board and Southwestern faculty members. 

The name “Barnard Hall” not only commemorates one of Southwestern’s earliest faculty members but also serves as an ongoing reminder of her contribution to education and Southwestern Seminary. The most recent renovation of Barnard Hall is a simple reminder that Barnard’s legacy lives on today, as Southwestern continues to equip the current 730 and future God-called women for ministry unto the Lord.