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Sloan names dean for Truett Seminary

Jan. 18, 2001

By STEPHEN DOVE

Reporter

The search for a new dean at George W. Truett Theological Seminary ended Wednesday with the appointment of Dr. Paul W. Powell of Tyler.

Powell, a Baylor University regent and retired president and CEO of the Southern Baptist Annuity Board, will officially join the seminary on Feb. 26. He will replace Dr. Randall O'Brien, who is acting as interim dean. Powell said he was approached by Dr. Robert B. Sloan Jr. about the opening shortly after Dr. Howard Batson of Amarillo withdrew his name from consideration in December.

'It was shortly after Dr. Batson declined that Dr. Sloan contacted me,' said Powell, a 1956 graduate of Baylor. 'He asked me to consider it, and I told him, 'No, I am happy in my retirement.' '

After considering the position, Powell said that he realized returning to Baylor as dean of Truett was the right move for him and the seminary.

Powell did not make any visits to Truett as a candidate for the position, but he will be on campus today afternoon to meet with the seminary faculty and students.

Faculty members contacted by TheLariat Wednesday evening declined comment on Powell's appointment, and Dr. Donald Schmeltekopf, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, acknowledged that the administration had not been able to consult with faculty about whom would fill the vacant position.

'We have had a lot of conversations with them in the prior search, but given the circumstance, we just had to move forward,' Schmeltekopf said.

Last December, a five-person search committee led by Dr. A. J. Conyers, a professor of theology at Truett, presented three finalists for dean of the seminary. After first choice Howard Batson withdrew his name, neither of the two remaining candidates was offered the position.

'They were not in consideration after that search came to an end,' said Schmeltekopf.

Schmeltekopf said that President Sloan made the decision to seek out Powell and offer him the post.

'He talked to me about it and talked to board members about it, but it was finally Dr. Sloan's decision,' Schmeltekopf said.

Powell has been an active supporter of Truett Seminary. As president of the Robert M. Rogers Foundation of Dallas, Powell oversaw the donation of $2.5 million to fund the building of a chapel that will bear his name. He has also spoken at chapel services at both Truett and Baylor.

Powell recognizes that there will be a transition time when he arrives next month, but he is excited about the opportunity to lead at Truett.

'I think I have to win the confidence of the faculty, and they have to win my confidence also,' Powell said. 'We will be working together.'

Powell's vision for Truett is to train pastors for the Texas area who are ready spiritually and mentally.

'There is no reason under the sun I would be here except that I believe Baylor and Truett are the stackpole around which a new work for Jesus will be done in Texas,' Powell said. 'The emphasis going to be on preparing people to be ministers in local Baptist churches without minimizing the academic aspect of their training.'

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