Turnover High at SBC Seminary

The Christian Century, June 19, 1996 | Go to article overview

Turnover High at SBC Seminary


The end of the spring semester at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky, marks the departure of at least 12 full-time faculty members from the school. The exit of 12 more faculty add up to a total of more than 40 full-time faculty members who have taken other positions, been forced to leave or retired since the fall of 1992, when Roy Honeycutt announced plans to retire as the school's president.

While some of those departing left their posts at normal retirement age or due to normal career moves, most of the departures have been tied to campus turmoil since the election of Albert Mohler as seminary president in March 1993. Mohler, with backing from trustees, has set out to steer the Southern Baptist Convention's oldest seminary in a markedly conservative direction. Honeycutt, like most of his modern predecessors, was a moderate.

The 40-some faculty members includes only full-time professors and does not account for adjunct professors, senior professors, instructors and other part-time faculty. Even then, the figure indicates an attrition rate of over 60 percent over four years, on the basis of a listing of 66 faculty members in the seminary's 1992-93 student directory. Over the past four years, three academic departments and one school at Southern Seminary--church history, Christian ethics, Christian preaching and the Carver School of Church Social Work--have experienced a complete turnover or loss of faculty.

Faculty members leaving the school this spring include Gerald Keown, professor of Old Testament interpretation; Walter Jackson, director of supervised ministry and associate dean of the theology school; Hal Poe, associate professor of evangelism and associate vice-president for academic programs; Glenn Stassen, professor of Christian ethics; David Dockery, vice-president for academic administration and dean of the theology school; Craig Loscalzo, associate professor of preaching; David Stancil, assistant professor of psychology of religion and pastoral care; Diana Garland, professor of Christian family ministry and former dean of the Carver School of Church Social Work; Janet Spressart, acting dean of the Carver School; and David Gushee, assistant professor of Christian ethics. …

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