It was recently reported that Southwestern Seminary, once considered the world's largest seminary, has experienced an 82% drop in enrollment in its M.Div. degree program over the past 30 years. Meanwhile, as apologist Alex McFarland recognizes that no seminary is explicitly safe from "wokeness," every other Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) seminary has grown in enrollment over the past 30 years — some significantly.
In a statement released on Friday, Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas wrote, "These have been extremely difficult decisions to make as we seek to address our current challenges … [which could] quickly escalate into a crisis."
Dr. Richard Land, who served as president of the SBC's Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission from 1988-2013 and is now executive editor of The Christian Post, says the seminary's former president, Adam Greenway, put the school in debt.
"According to press reports, there were funds expended based upon projections of income that did not prove accurate," he relays.
Land, who was on campus last week, says as donors' help is sought, he does not expect the cuts will be too deep.
"It's a concern that needs to be addressed, and it's being addressed through prudent budgeting and through aggressive fundraising," he tells AFN. "But they do not foresee any faculty layoffs."
In September, O.S. Hawkins was named a senior advisor and ambassador-at-large, and the seminary trustees announced that David Dockery would serve as interim president. Land shares that he and Dockery go back a long time.
"We hired him to teach for us at Criswell, and he's been making me look good ever since," Dr. Land discloses. "I can't think of anyone that I would rather have in that office right now helping to guide the seminary towards a very successful future."
Dockery, who joined the Southwestern Seminary faculty in 2019, has nearly four decades of experience in higher education. He was president of Union University from 1995 to 2014 before he was named president of Trinity International University and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He has also served as president of the International Alliance for Christian Education.
Hawkins served a quarter-century as president of Guidestone Financial Services. Previously, he was pastor of First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas and First Baptist Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.