Southern Seminary receives $1 million endowed chair

Communications Staff — October 19, 2005

Calling it “a hallmark in the history” of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, President R. Albert Mohler Jr. announced Wednesday a fully-funded $1 million endowed professorship, named in honor of late Alabama Christian statesman Albert Lee Smith, Jr.

Mohler announced the creation of The Albert Lee Smith, Jr. Chair of Christian Leadership during a chapel service that was part of Southern Seminary’s annual Heritage Week, Oct. 10-14. Smith served Alabama’s 6th District in the United States House of Representatives during the 96th session of Congress from1981 to 1982.

“These endowed chairs are so very important to us because they really are the heart of the financial security of this institution going forward, and they are also a way of honoring one who is rightly to be honored,” Mohler said.

“The proceeds will help to fund the salary of a professor and the cost of providing instruction. This kind of investment helps keep tuition as low as possible. This is a down-payment on the future so that generations yet to come will have greater opportunities than what are represented by this institution even now.”

Smith joined the Jefferson Pilot Life Insurance Company in 1956 and worked with distinction for 41 years as a chartered life underwriter, winning numerous professional and service awards.

As a congressman, Smith demonstrated Christian concern for the strength of American families by sponsoring the Family Protection Act. In 1985, President Ronald Reagan appointed Smith to the National Council on Aging, an appointment subsequently confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Smith, who died in 1997, served for many years as a deacon at First Baptist Church of Birmingham, Ala., and also served as chairman of the Baptist Joint Committee on Public Affairs of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). His wife, Eunie, who was present during the announcement of the endowed chair, serves on the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the SBC.

“Albert Lee Smith Jr. left a lifetime legacy of Christian commitment as a husband and father, churchman, friend and national leader,” Mohler said. “He served as a role model and mentor for many – demonstrating his skill as a leader in the fight for truth and the cause of Christ as a defender of the Christian faith.

“His legacy has been perpetuated in the lives of so many, and now in a very special way, everyone in this institution will be touched by his life.”

The Albert Lee Smith Chair of Christian Leadership is Southern Seminary’s 18th endowed chair.

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