Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary Professor, Dr. Travis Dickinson, writes:
So Adam Greenway resigned from SWBTS last week as president of the institution. He began his presidency just 3.5 years ago and it hereby ends effective immediately after a late night meeting of the trustees on Thursday night. I was at SWBTS for 2.5 of those years having been on faculty for 10. So there are of course a lot of thoughts and emotions but I think the following is the most pertinent.
I hope and I pray that faculty are treated well in this transition. The very worst thing that could happen, in my opinion, is to clean house again the way Greenway’s administration did when he came in as president. By my count, within the first year of Greenway’s presidency 40 faculty members were cut in two rounds less than a year a part. His administration was still cutting as of this summer bringing the count up to 46. Many of these cuts made little sense and were devastating to these families and completely demoralizing to the rest of the faculty. We sat with families who wept as they wondered how they would navigate suddenly being unemployed a couple of months before the new academic year. I and many others experienced the constant anxiety of wondering if we would be next.
What most people don’t realize is that the faculty at SWBTS have virtually no say in the decisions of the institution. That’s unfortunate and, in my view, institutionally unhealthy, but it is the reality and it means that the responsibility of the current situation does not rest at the feet of the faculty. However, it’s faculty who find themselves suddenly unemployed when they had virtually nothing to do with how the seminary is run.
The ones who are responsible are the administration and the trustees. With all due respect, I believe the SWBTS trustees should take a very hard look at themselves and ask why this has been allowed to happen…again. It seems to me that the trustees primary role as the trustee board is to hold the president and the admin accountable. However, for two presidents now, the spending and the hiring/firing has seemingly happened with little oversight. And if they did oversee these things, then they bear the responsibility of the current problems along with Greenway and his administration.
Greenway should have never been allowed to fire 46 professors (and 100s of staff positions) in just 3.5 years. Honestly, where were the trustees in this?! This is bad for business and the way many of them were treated was simply unchristian. It is not a surprise that enrollment is down when students leave due to their favorite professor being unjustly cut and tell their friends not to go to SWBTS…46 times over. He should have never been allowed to extend six figure offers to prospective facutly members, offers that were sometimes more than double the salary of current faculty members, all while the institution is facing financial difficulties. They also are said to have spent exorbitantly on renovations projects (including the president and provost’s home), two expensive rebranding projects for the college, among a number of other things. It is THE job of a trustee to prevent these kinds of things when things are getting out of hand.
Again, lots more to say but I hope that OS Hawkins comes in pastorally and works to heal that community as interim president. I hope he remembers that most of the faculty have nothing to do with the situation in which they find themselves. Most of them have tried to keep their heads down, raise no suspicion about disloyalty (or even perceived disloyalty) to the administration, and work faithfully as unto the Lord. I hope he has lots of conversations and dialogue and affirms their good and faithful work. I hope he realizes that SWBTS will thrive in every category when it gets back to creating a loving, inspiring, worshipful, and biblical culture as the first priority and let the branding and enthusiasm and the hiring of “big” name professors come to them.
If what Dickinson (and many others) says is true, then Greenway’s short tenure at SWBTS (note: the shortest in history) will be remembered by his bent toward bullying others and a penchant for misusing Southern Baptist money. Greenway attempted to “clean house” at Southwestern by firing conservatives and replacing them with those from his prior network at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dickinson even mentions six-digit figures for prospective faculty at this failing seminary. Imagine this level of bullying and mismanagement going on your resume. Would you hire someone like that?
You see, no sooner had Greenway resigned from Southwestern than his old pal Paul Chitwood hired him on at the IMB. Your missionary money is used to prop up a failed seminary president who bullied his professors and dumped untold dollars into hiring friends, all while reportedly spending extravagantly on his seminary housing and leaving behind a $12 Million operating deficit. One wonders whether or not such a dark mark on a resume is in fact the attractive feature of future leaders in the SBC. With news that Greenway will be collecting a six-figure severance from SWBTS while also being paid whatever salary his mysterious new position at IMB commands the cronyism is thrown into even sharper relief.
Our trustee system is broken. Dickinson makes note of this too, but we knew it anyway. If the trustees won’t hold our entity presidents accountable, then who will? Why are you giving money to a missions organization that would make a hire like this, which is transparently built upon previous friendships and apparent commitment to the continuation of a corrupt good old boys’ network? Why do Southern Baptists settle for so little?