ESL Institute planned for Southwestern Seminary

FORT WORTH—Trustees of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary approved an English as a Second Language Institute, passed a nearly $36 million budget, hired five new faculty and elected officers during their April 15 spring meeting.

The ESL Institute will assess international students’ skills in English for undergraduate and post-graduate work and develop an Intensive English Program to achieve written and oral English competency. In addition, a newly approved BA concentration in ESL teaching certification in the College at Southwestern will equip students to teach ESL in a missionary context.

Describing it as an “aggressive ESL program,” Southwestern Seminary President Paige Patterson said, “It will help us in a number of ways with student recruitment, ministering to the wives of many students who come here with no English language at all and ministry to the community.”

Trustees elected to the seminary faculty Madison Grace as assistant professor of Baptist history and theology, Ross Inman as assistant professor of philosophy and Dale Johnson as assistant professor of biblical counseling. Newly elected to the College at Southwestern are Mark Janzen, assistant professor of history and archaeology, and Stephen Mizell, assistant professor of humanities.

The Board modified the bylaw article outlining the composition of the student body to allow a “modified criteria for admission” for “limited special circumstances” such as those involving online education and the Darrington prison extension program. Current policy requires that students profess a divine call to Christian ministry and show church endorsement.

Previously, an exception was granted by the president to allow a Muslim student to study archaeology in the Ph.D. program after having worked with the school’s Tel Gezer dig in Israel.  Patterson apologized to trustees and Southern Baptist Convention messengers to last year’s annual meeting for having assumed he had the authority to allow exceptions.

New bylaw language clarifies that trustees must approve any modified criteria for exceptional cases. Patterson will refer to the action during his report to SBC messengers in June.

Newly elected officers include Chairman Lash Banks, pastor of Murphy Road Baptist Church in Murphy; Vice-chairman Tony Mathews, pastor of Garland Baptist Fellowship in Garland and Secretary Danny Johnson, director of missions for Pulaski Baptist Association in Bryant, Ark.

In other business, trustees reduced requirements for the doctor of educational ministries degree from 44 to 36 hours, approved candidates for spring and summer graduation, and authorized construction of Mathena Hall once funding reaches a level of 90 percent of costs.  The facility will house the College at Southwestern, Roy Fish School of Evangelism & Missions, and the Richard Land Center for Cultural Engagement.

Trustees upgraded the security force to establish a police department and granted authority to sell E.D. Head apartments as well as a house located beyond the campus area. Student Services Vice President Steven Smith was granted a year-long sabbatical as recommended by the president.

In his report to the Board, Smith spoke of 100 students and professors preaching a collective 500 sermons in churches across the United States during spring break. The annual Revive This Nation effort yielded 71 professions of faith and 235 other spiritual commitments.

The Board also heard a report from its Executive Committee that Patterson received “an exemplary commendation” in his annual performance based on appraisals submitted by trustees.

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