Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s School of Educational Ministries honored its dean, Robert Welch, with a retirement celebration, May 5. Welch has not only been the dean of the school, but he has also served as professor of administration at the seminary since 1991, and he has occupied the Hugh Seborn Simpson Chair of Administration in Religious Education.
In the course of his retirement dinner, Welch received gifts and words of encouragement and appreciation from colleagues from the School of Educational Ministries, including Wes Black, Robert Mathis, Octavio Esqueda, Marcia McQuitty, Ian Jones and Rick Yount. Craig Blaising, executive vice president and provost of the seminary, and President Paige Patterson also commended Welch for his faithful service.
“You have led the school well,” Blaising said to Welch. “You have developed new programs. There are faculty here that have come because you have brought them on. There are students who go through the school who remember you as the dean of the school—you have impacted their lives. And you have a grateful president and provost for the way in which you have done the work.”
Patterson said he “deeply and profoundly” appreciated Welch for his faithfulness to both the School of Educational Ministries and the administration of the seminary. He extended a permanent invitation to his office and to the classroom. He also thanked the School of Educational Ministries for supporting Welch and for contributing to the Kingdom of Christ.
Welch appreciated his colleagues’ comments, describing the evening as “one of those high moments in my life.” He added, “It has been fun working with Dr. Patterson and Dr. Blaising. My daddy always told me, if you are not having fun, you are either not doing it right or you shouldn’t be doing it. I have had fun.”
Welch expressed his desire to spend more time with Judy, his wife of 47 years. “You can see that Judy has been a major part of my life, and in these last few years she has been a major part of the things that went through our life that were struggles,” he said, referring to the passing of their daughter, Laura, five years ago. “She was, in many respects, the one who sustained our family through all of that.”
Welch also mentioned that he looks forward to having time to invest in hobbies, such as woodworking, but he added, “I also want to continue being close to the seminary. … I am not quitting. I am just changing roles.” He anticipates teaching more classes at Southwestern and teaching seminars at other schools.
Before committing his life to ministry, Welch served in the Navy and received his B.S. in Biology and Chemistry from East Tennessee State University in 1960. He then completed an M.S. in Oceanography at the Naval Postgraduate School in 1967. After accepting his call to ministry, he earned both his M.A.R.E (1985) and Ph.D. (1990) from Southwestern Seminary.
Prior to beginning his 17-year professorship at the seminary in 1991, he served in teaching roles at the University of Oklahoma and Liberty University Theological Seminary. He also served as an adjunct professor at the seminary from 1987 to 1988. A devoted churchman, he also served as the Church business administrator for Trinity Baptist Church of Norman, Okla., from 1982 to 1988. Welch has authored numerous publications, including Church Administration: Excellence and Efficiency in Ministry (B&H Press, 2005) and The Church Organization Manual (NACBA Press, 2002).