FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – “Mixed emotions are what happen to you when you are told that your best friend just joined the bull riding competition,” Southwestern Seminary president Paige Patterson said, adding, “You are thrilled for your friend and grateful for his courage, but you know what lies ahead.”

Patterson made these remarks, June 5, as he addressed the departure of several prominent faculty members. Patterson expressed excitement for new leadership opportunities for Thomas White, Jason Lee and Stephen Johnson, noting that the institutions to which they go have found the highest quality of men.

Thomas White, vice president for student services and communications, has been called as the new president of Cedarville University in Cedarville, Ohio. Jason Lee, professor of historical theology and chair of the church history department, has accepted the position as dean for the new School of Biblical and Ministry Studies at Cedarville University. Stephen Johnson, dean of Southwestern’s School of Church Music, has accepted the invitation of Azusa Pacific University to become dean of the new College of Music and the Arts.

Patterson, who recently rejoined the board of trustees at Cedarville University, expressed full confidence in White's future as president, saying, “He is a humble, courageous, brilliant prophet of God. Cedarville will expand its influence and impact under his leadership. Few have ever been more prepared for the task.”

Concerning Lee, Patterson said, “It hurts to lose all three men. They are not just precious friends; they are institutional treasures. Jason Lee brings academic insight, spiritual maturity and humor to an already great department of Bible.”

Patterson said the importance of Lee’s position is underscored by the fact that every student at Cedarville, regardless of major, must minor in Bible.

“That ought to be a requirement at every institution that calls itself after the name of Christ,” said Patterson.

Patterson also pointed out that Azusa Pacific boasts a large program in the arts with Christian influence where too often this is absent. Regarding Johnson, Patterson said, “They could not have made a superior choice to this one.”

“We will miss these gracious leaders,” Patterson concluded, “but we are, at the same moment, deeply honored that prestigious schools like these look to Southwestern for leadership.”

White and Johnson begin their new assignments on July 1, while Lee begins on Aug. 1.