Trustees approve new apologetics master”s degree, elect four professors

FORT WORTH—Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary trustees approved the formation of a Board of Visitors and elected new faculty members, among other business, at a meeting on the school’s campus April 9.

The Board of Visitors acts as purely an observatory and feedback-supplying body, and its members have no legal responsibility or authority to the seminary.

“They don’t have any oversight over the campus,” said Steven Smith, Southwestern’s vice president of student services and communications. “What they do is they come and they look around and generally gain awareness themselves of what’s going on, on campus, and they’re able to give us feedback. It’s one more avenue to engage people who are not formally or vocationally in the ministry, necessarily, and for them to come on to our campus and see what we’re seeing everyday.”

Pending approval by the seminary’s accrediting agencies, students may soon have another degree program from which to choose when they begin studying at Southwestern. The trustees voted to approve a master of arts in Christian apologetics degree as well as a certificate in the same field of study.

Provost Craig Blaising said interest in apologetics has been piqued among laypeople and academics alike and continues to be on the rise, especially among many students studying in the College at Southwestern. The creation of a degree focused on that area seemed a natural response to that interest, he explained.

“With the interest that has been communicated to us, we felt the time was right to go ahead and create this degree, as well as the certificate, because the certificate is there for maybe laypeople who have interest in apologetics, science and culture and who want to focus and get some training in that area.”

Though approved in concept by the trustees, the degree will still have to go through the approval channels of the accrediting agencies before students can begin the new degree.

Faculty Elections
The trustees also voted to elect four professors to the seminary’s faculty: Paul Gould as assistant professor of philosophy and Christian apologetics; Craig Kubic as dean of libraries; Vern Charette as assistant professor of preaching; and Keith Loftin as assistant professor of humanities. Additionally, the board voted to endow the Jesse Hendley Chair of Biblical Theology and elected Blaising to occupy it. Matt Queen, assistant professor of evangelism, was elected to fill the L.R. Scarborough Chair of Evangelism, also known as the Chair of Fire, formerly held by Patterson.

“Due to Matt Queen, this place is a different place than it was three years ago,” Patterson told the board early in the meeting, before the professor’s election to the chair. “Matt Queen has done exactly what I asked him to do. I told him, ‘I don’t care what you teach, I just want you to electrify this campus with evangelistic outreach. I want there to be only two kinds of people that set foot on Southwestern’s campus: those who are soul winners and those who are desperately ashamed of themselves and miserable because they’re not going to get involved in it.’ And he has done that unbelievably. The longer he is at it, I see how big of a failure I was during my first eight years here, and my hat is off to him, and I thank God for the others who have joined him.”

Officer Elections
The trustees made elections to their own board as well, voting to select Steve James of Lake Charles, La., to serve a second term as chairman, Bart Barber of Farmersville, to serve as vice chairman and John Brunson of Houston, to serve a second term as secretary.

Budget and other business
Trustees approved a $35.1 million budget for the seminary for the 2014-15 fiscal year, which represents a slight increase over the $32.9 million budget approved for 2013-2014. The board also approved audits for the seminary and the seminary’s development foundation for the fiscal year ending July 31.

Patterson requested the board “receive the report of the successful conclusion” of the 2009-2013 strategic plan, which it did unanimously. He then also asked that they approve the 2014-2019 strategic plan, which Patterson said includes items such as libraries, faculty and staff compensation, and upkeep to the physical plant.

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