Local News

Patterson Leaving Southeastern Seminary For Southwestern Baptist Seminary

Posted June 24, 2003

— After overseeing 11 years of unprecedented growth, Paige Patterson is stepping down as president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary to assume the presidency of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.

He resigned Tuesday after Southwestern's Board of Trustees voted to call Patterson to the presidency of the Southern Baptist Convention's largest seminary.

Patterson said the decision to leave Southeastern was one of the most agonizing decisions he has ever made.

"Our departure comes not as result of dissatisfaction of any kind," he said. "To the contrary, a president has never enjoyed such support and counsel from a governing board, such camaraderie and stimulation from a faculty and staff, such encouragement from a Board of Visitors, or such love from students."

Patterson, 60, said it was the "clear call of God" that is taking him to Southwestern, a place that he said he loves "profoundly."

Patterson led Southeastern Seminary from an enrollment of about 500 when he started 11 years ago to nearly 2,500 today.

The number of professors at the school has tripled, and about $18 million has been spent on capital improvements, including the Jacumin-Simpson Missions Center.

"Dr. Patterson has provided excellent leadership for the past 11 years and has been used by our Lord to grow a great theological school with a passion for missions and evangelism," said Timothy D. Lewis, chairman of the Southeastern Seminary Board of Trustees. "While our hearts are saddened by the prospect of losing our president, our faith is bolstered by a firm trust in the sovereign leadership and provision of the Lord."

Under Patterson's leadership, Southeastern began an undergraduate program, Southeastern College at Wake Forest, as well as a Ph.D. program that is quickly gaining a national reputation.

Patterson said he is fully confident the faculty he leaves behind is "the greatest faculty ever assembled on the earth." He said he convinced Southeastern's best days are ahead.

"Exciting days of new adventure and the greatest accomplishments lie immediately ahead for Southeastern," Patterson said.

His wife, Dorothy Kelley Patterson, guided the creation of a master of divinity degree in women's studies at Southeastern, a groundbreaking program. She is an outstanding scholar in her own right, and the author of numerous books.

The Pattersons will remain in Wake Forest until July 31. On July 21, Southeastern's trustees will meet in a special session to select an interim president.

"The Trustees are firmly committed to the faculty, staff and students at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary," Lewis said. "We are resolved to see the seminary continue its direction to be a great missionary force by equipping men and women in ministry, missions and evangelism.

"We are certain that God is preparing the right person to lead an outstanding faculty and student body at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary."

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