Criswell College trustees pursue relocation, name Richards to chair presidential search

In the midst of receiving the resignation of the school’s president, Criswell College trustees remained focused on expanding the curriculum to a university model that trains biblical leaders in strategic disciplines such as business, law, communication and education.

Furthermore, they empowered the board’s executive committee to purchase land to build a residential campus to accommodate such growth.

“It would serve us well as we continue to communicate to reaffirm the vision of the college becoming a full university along with its relocation,” trustee John Mann of Springtown told the board. “The Lord brought Dr. Jerry Johnson here to lead us at the stage where we are, but it’s a vision that belongs to Criswell College and ought to belong to this trustee board.”

Board members voiced gratitude to Johnson for more than seven years of service and made clear their determination to run with the vision he introduced by a vote of reaffirmation. The chairman of a newly named presidential search committee agreed that the stage is set for the next leader to carry out that priority.

Jim Richards, an ex-officio board member as executive director of the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, will chair the search committee. Other search committee members from the trustee board include David Galvan, pastor of Primera Iglesia Bautista Nueva Vida in Dallas; Mann, who pastors La Junta Baptist Church in Springtown; Jack Pogue, a layman at First Baptist Church of Dallas; and Keet Lewis, a layman at Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano. Also named to the committee are two Criswell College alumni, Andrew Hebert, pastor of Taylor Memorial Baptist Church in Hobbs, N.M., and Joshua Crutchfield, pastor of First Baptist Church of Trenton.

“We’re going to find the man God would have to lead us into the new direction of the Criswell College,” Richards told the TEXAN.

Meeting with faculty and staff after the board adjourned, Richards said he told them it would be an open process.

“There is no person who has been pre-selected.”

Nominations will be received immediately and should be sent to Evie Cozart at Criswell College. Additional information will be posted online at criswell.edu.

“We are going to involve the student body, faculty and administration for input as a potential profile is developed for the next president,” he added, “as well as receiving any other information that they would like to give.”

Richards said he would give periodic updates to all of those groups, as well as trustees, to keep them apprised of the process.

“The search committee will move expeditiously and judiciously toward finding the next president,” he stated, asking for prayer “from all who would join us in seeking God’s face that we might know his man.”

RELOCATION

On the task of relocating, a site acquisition study by the campus planning firm of Dober Lidsky Mathey provided trustees with information on the characteristics of a campus that would initially serve 600 students with the potential of growing to 1,800. Space and project costs were outlined for the board before consideration was given to five sites just outside of Dallas.

“I move that we empower the executive committee to act if they can cut a deal they are comfortable with,” proposed trustee Richard Land of Charlotte, N.C. Trustees unanimously affirmed his appeal, eager to take advantage of available property without a delay until the next board meeting in the spring.

OTHER BUSINESS

The board also authorized the sale of 200 acres owned by the school in Royce City and a rehabilitation center near the current campus on Gaston Avenue in Dallas. That action is also subject to the executive committee’s approval. Promotions were granted to four faculty members, including Christopher Allen Graham as assistant professor of theology, Jason Scott Bridger as assistant professor of world Christianity and Islamic studies, Aaron Meraz as assistant professor of church planting and revitalization, and Joseph Woodell as professor of philosophy.

Trustees elected Mann to serve as chairman; Calvin Wittman, pastor of Applewood Baptist Church in Wheat Ridge, Colo., as vice-chairman; and re-elected Pogue to another term as secretary of the board. The board’s executive committee will name an interim president to assume responsibilities after Johnson completes his tenure at the end of October.

Trustees stood to applaud Johnson after Wittman praised him for leaving the school “in great hands and with a great future.”

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