SWBTS trustees pledge to recruit students for new undergrad college

FORT WORTH?Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary trustees meeting Oct. 19 pledged their support in recruiting students for an undergraduate college during their semiannual meeting. Tentatively named The College at Southwestern, the school will offer a baccalaureate degree in biblical studies and other programs in the history of Western ideas.

Trustees agreed to “take up the challenge of spearheading recruiting efforts” by providing contact information for home school associations, Christian high schools and academies, and the names of prospective students in public high schools who are involved in their church youth groups. Corporately, the board will recruit 50 students to the first class slated to begin in the fall of 2005.

Several trustees voiced concern that public school students should be recruited from the youth groups of Southern Baptist churches. As one of the few areas prompting discussion in the plenary meetings, the motion was amended to add the reference to public school students alongside those being recruited from home school and private schools.

Southwestern Seminary Vice President Rudy Gonzales said the motion encouraging recruitment was not intended to exclude other possibilities.

“But we do believe home school associations and private high schools and academies will probably be the most fertile ground initially. Certainly we’ll expand our recruiting efforts into other areas as well.”

“If they feel they’re left out by not having a contact, we’ve lost a great group of kids that need to be included,” stated Texas trustee Michael Dean of Fort Worth, favoring inclusion of a reference to public school students. “Out of our youth groups and churches we will look for young men and women who would be candidates for the College at Southwestern.”

Trustee Anthony George of Winter Park, Fla., encouraged amended language “so the intent of this college’s founding is not expressed here as just being another extension of isolated circles in the Christian community.” George added, “I don’t want to imply in writing that our recruitment efforts are limited to those in Christian education.”

The College at Southwestern would provide “unique preparation for students who wish to engage culture and advance the gospel,” according to spokesman Greg Tomlin. He also indicated that the cost of attending the college would be much less than the average university or private Christian school.

Trustees also responded with enthusiasm to Southwestern Seminary President Paige Patterson’s call for every student to participate in an international mission trip. “We know not every student is called to be an international missionary, but we believe every student ought to have his arms around the world,” Patterson said in reporting a five-year commitment of the seminary to send students in short-term mission assignments in Cuba, Zambia and Siberia.

“There’s nothing like a short-term mission assignment to cement that deeply in their hearts,” Patterson insisted, adding that professors will also benefit from such experiences. When the entire campus is focused on reaching lost people for Christ, Patterson said the imperfections and squabbles that naturally occur fade in comparison.

In plenary session trustees elected a new vice president, a new faculty member, and approved the inauguration of two new academic chairs. Privately, they were informed that former Euless pastor Claude Thomas had declined to accept an opportunity to serve in a chaplaincy post at the school.

C. Gregory Kingry Sr. was named vice president of business affairs, having directed business services for the North Africa-Middle East region of the International Mission Board since 1997.

Johnny Derouen was elected associate professor of student ministries, having served as minister to youth at Travis Avenue <st1:P

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