Southern Seminary announces strategic endowments, major Nashville initiative and a new dean of Boyce College

Communications Staff — April 20, 2011

Tuesday, April 19, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary announced three significant endowments at its spring meeting of the Board of Trustees. In addition to accepting the yearly budget, the trustees approved the appointment of a new dean for Boyce College and further development of the seminary’s extension center in Nashville, Tenn.

The first endowment announcement was the establishment of the Duke K. McCall Chair of Christian Leadership and the McCall Leadership Lectures with funding by Dr. and Mrs. Duke McCall and the McCall Family Foundation. The inaugural lecture will take place on the 60th anniversary of McCall’s election as president of Southern Seminary.

“It is historic and a matter of great satisfaction that we are able to honor Duke K. McCall as the seventh president of this institution,” said R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Seminary. “We are especially pleased to have this gift that will establish an endowed chair of Christian leadership. Duke K. McCall is synonymous with Christian statesmanship and leadership. He has left a decisive mark, not only at Southern Seminary, but at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and the SBC Executive Committee and throughout the Southern Baptist Convention. We look forward to hearing the leadership lectures in the fall with Dr. Robert Sloan, president of Houston Baptist University, as the first lecturer.”

Second, Southern Seminary announced the establishment of a center for the Christian understanding of Islam, with funding from Bill and Connie Jenkins of New Albany, Ind. Mohler noted that in addition to researching Islam, the center will host conferences concerning the Muslim faith.

“Why would Southern Seminary establish a Christian center for the study of Islam? The answer is actually quite simple. Every Christian ministry needs to have an understanding of Islam in order to be a faithful witness to the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ and to understand the mission field that is not only out there in the world, but here in our own neighborhoods. For the foreseeable future, Islam is going to be the major worldview competitor to Christianity. I am pleased about the establishment of this new center and I look forward to its influence on the Christian world far beyond the campus of Southern Seminary,” Mohler said.

Third, the seminary will add the Center for Missions Mobilization with funding from Matthew and Glenna Bevin of Louisville, Ky. The Bevins endowed the new center in honor of their late daughter, Brittiney.

“This new center will allow us to equip the students of this seminary with a set of global skills so they can be mobilized at any point in their ministry for service anywhere in the world,” Mohler said. “This is now the expectation of this business community. It is being woven into the architecture of MBA degrees and training for business professionals and executives. Given the mandate for the Great Commission, it is far more important and urgent that Christian pastors have the ability and the expectation to have a global impact and to be ready for deployment at any moment.”

The trustees also approved a $34 million budget that includes a five-percent increase in master’s level tuition and a two-percent increase in faculty and staff salaries.  

Additionally, the board approved plans to launch a major new initiative in the Nashville area. Two faculty members from the Louisville campus will relocate to Nashville to lead this extension campus.

“It has become clear to us that the need for theological education in Nashville and within driving distance is greater than we ever understood. In response to that need, we are moving in a big way toward the establishment of a fully operational campus in Nashville. We’ve strategically located this new program in Williamson County, in the direct traffic flow of the greatest economic activity in central Tennessee. The location of this new program will allow students to drive from a region that reaches down into northern Alabama, northeastern Mississippi and throughout much of Tennessee. We are particularly eager about nourishing Southern Seminary’s longstanding relationship with Nashville and Southern Baptist churches there.

“I look forward to the leadership that Dr. Mark Coppenger will bring as associate dean and director of that program, and to building a student body that will be able to take advantage of all that Southern Seminary has to offer,” Mohler said.

In other news, Dan DeWitt was named the new dean of Boyce College, the undergraduate arm of Southern Seminary. DeWitt previously served as assistant dean of Boyce and prior to his new position served as the vice president for communications and as lead pastor of Campus Church, Highview Baptist Church’s campus ministry at the University of Louisville. Denny Burk stepped down from his current position as dean in order to return to the classroom at Boyce and expand his research and writing.

“Dr. Dan DeWitt brings a considerable skill set, tremendous commitment and precisely the kind of background experience we need to be able to provide Boyce College with the leadership it needs in the deanship as we look to the future,” Mohler said.

“Denny Burk has served faithfully and well as dean of Boyce College. It has been a great delight to get to know him during the years he has served here, and I am especially eager to see what the Lord will do through him in this new phase of his ministry of research, writing and teaching. Denny was born to be a teacher, and he has a courageous commitment to engaging the issues of the day in a way that serves not only his students but also the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

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