Dr. Paul W. Powell Appointed Dean of Baylor's Truett Seminary

Jan. 17, 2001

by Lori Scott Fogleman

Baylor University President Robert B. Sloan Jr. on Jan. 17 announced the appointment of Dr. Paul W. Powell of Tyler, Texas, as dean of George W. Truett Theological Seminary.

A well¡respected Baptist pastor and leader, Baylor graduate and current Baylor regent, Powell will join the seminary officially on Feb. 26.

"I'm thrilled to have Paul Powell as dean of Truett Seminary," said Sloan, who was the seminary's founding dean. "He is a man of leadership and vision, a man of stature among Texas Baptists and an outstanding preacher. He has spent a lifetime doing the very things that Truett Seminary wants to prepare ministers to do ¡ to preach the word of God, to evangelize and to lead Baptists forward into the 21st century.

"Paul Powell will bring those experiences not only to the classroom but to his leadership of Truett," Sloan said.

The former president of the Robert M. Rogers Foundation of Dallas, Powell continues to serve on the foundation's board of directors. He previously retired in 1998 as president and CEO of the Annuity Board of the Southern Baptist Convention and has served in numerous offices with the Baptist General Convention of Texas, including a term as president from 1985¡87. A Baylor regent and former regent chairman, Powell is president of the board of advisers for Texas Baptist Leadership.

In addition, Powell has served as pastor at Texas Baptist churches in Belfalls, Troy, Taylor, San Marcos and Tyler, where he served for 17 years as pastor of Green Acres Baptist Church. A much sought¡after speaker, he continues to preach regularly at churches throughout Texas.

"I really believe that the future of our historic Baptist witness is tied closely to Baylor University and to Truett Seminary," Powell said. "I'm very grateful for the foundation laid by Robert Sloan and Brad Creed, and I look forward to getting to know the faculty members individually and meeting with students. My door will always be open. As I heard [former Baylor president] Abner McCall say on one occasion, 'It will not be an open door to a closed mind.' I want to listen, I want to learn and I want to help set a vision and represent Truett Seminary with our denomination, with our churches and with our pastors."

"There is probably no one in the state of Texas who is more revered and respected as a Texas Baptist than Paul Powell. His credibility with Baptists will be of enormous benefit to Truett Seminary," said Dr. Donald D. Schmeltekopf, Baylor's provost and vice president for academic affairs. "Paul Powell has a great heart for the ministry and cares about Baptist churches in Texas and throughout the world. I look forward to his leadership of the seminary."

Powell earned his bachelor of arts degree from Baylor in 1956, as well as a degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He holds honorary degrees from East Texas Baptist University, Baylor, the University of Mary Hardin¡Baylor, Campbell University and Dallas Baptist University and is the author of 36 books, as well as numerous articles and chapters as a contributing editor or writer.

While maintaining their residence in Tyler, Powell and his wife, Cathy, a 1956 Baylor graduate, will be living in a university apartment near the Baylor campus. Active in the Tyler community, Powell serves on the board of directors for Southside Bank and as chairman of the board of directors for Mother Frances Hospital. He and his wife have three children, Kent, Mike and Lori, and three grandchildren, Jordan, Katie and Matthew.

Powell will serve as the third dean of George W. Truett Theological Seminary, which held its opening convocation Aug. 28, 1994, in the worship center of First Baptist Church of Waco. Seminary classes officially began Aug. 31, 1994, with an enrollment of 51 students. Since then, Truett Seminary's student population has more than quadrupled to 247 students (Fall 2000), while more than 140 students have received their master of divinity degrees. With 12 full¡time faculty members, the seminary also offers a doctor of ministry degree, a joint master of divinity/master of music degree in conjunction with Baylor's School of Music and a joint master of divinity/master of social work degree in conjunction with the School of Social Work.

Under construction is Truett's $17 million, 64,000¡square¡foot seminary complex, which will feature a 550¡seat chapel, funded by a $2.5 million gift from the Rogers Foundation and named for Powell; a Great Hall; a 100¡foot by 100¡foot landscaped, enclosed courtyard; a teaching chapel named in honor of Sloan; classrooms and meeting rooms; and faculty and administrative offices. The proposed chapel spire, towering at more than 100 feet, will be visible from Interstate 35, adding a new dimension to the Baylor skyline. Fundraising for the seminary complex began in November 1997 with a $5 million lead gift from John and Eula Mae Baugh of Houston. The building is expected to be completed in 2002.

Under Powell's leadership, Truett Seminary hopes to increase its enrollment to 500 students over the next several years to fill the needs of Baptist churches in Texas and beyond.

"I want our seminary to be true to George W. Truett's name and mission," said Powell, who is re¡reading a biography of the pioneering Texas Baptist. "He was a man with a great passion for the lost and for the whole work of God. While there may never be another Baptist pastor like him, we can try to instill the passion of a Truett into our students."

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