Patterson declares end to downturn in Southwestern Seminary enrollment

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)--Paige Patterson has been president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary for less than a month, but he and the seminary family already are celebrating a significant milestone in his administration.

Patterson invited members of the seminary faculty and staff to gather Aug. 12 to celebrate the end of the decline in student numbers at the Texas seminary.

"The anniversary is obvious. For the last 20 years, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has been generally declining in FTE [fulltime equivalent] enrollment. ... From now on, we are on our way to 6,000 students," Patterson said.

Patterson said that Southwestern was "the best-kept secret in the world" and that the seminary would begin "telling the Southwestern story" in order to bolster the student count. But the newly elected president isn't claiming that he will be the reason for the increase in enrollment.

"We can't do it unless God visits this campus. If He does, we'll know it, Fort Worth will know it, Texas will know it, the world will know it," Patterson said. "The most important thing in the world is for people to see Southwestern Seminary as a place where people go to meet God."

The seminary family should covenant together to pray for the institution, Patterson said, also advising that they "keep happy attitudes and a cheerful counsel." True happiness, he said, is found in service to the church and the lost of the world.

"Greatness is a judgment only God makes.... [I]t is the servant that he regards as great," he said.

Patterson was elected the eighth president of Southwestern Seminary by a unanimous vote of the seminary's trustees June 24. He previously was president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C. Under his leadership, the seminary grew from fewer than 600 students to a cumulative total of more than 2,300.


(BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: LOOKING AHEAD, JOINING IN PRAYER and PAIGE PATTERSON.

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