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New Truett dean meets with students

Jan. 31, 2001

Powell shares his vision for school with seminarians



Dr. Paul Powell, the dean-elect of George W. Truett Theological Seminary, visited campus Tuesday to meet with seminary students for the first time.

Powell opened Tuesday afternoon's meeting by discussing his pastoral background with students and presenting his vision for the future of Truett.

'When I planned to come to campus this time, I wanted to get as many things done as I could,' Powell said. 'I certainly wanted to meet with students because they are the most important people in the seminary. This is a chance for them to get to know me and for me to get to know them.'

Powell told students that he wanted the primary focus of the seminary to be training pastors and preachers for local churches in the Baptist tradition.

'I want Truett to be a conservative, evangelical seminary committed to our Baptist beliefs of soul competency, priesthood of all believers and autonomy of the local church,' Powell told students. 'We will be what Baptists have always been.'

After Powell presented his own goals for Truett's future, students got a chance to ask him questions.

During the question-and-answer portion of the meeting, students asked Powell about issues ranging from the role of non-Baptist students at Truett to plans for accommodating the seminary's future growth.

'I think probably the key concern expressed is that we don't lose hold of the initial vision of Truett, which is the theological formation of persons and that happening through seminar style courses,' Truett student Mike Sciretti said. 'I think what a lot of students are afraid of is that we will become a carbon copy of the old way of doing seminary. We bought into the idea that Truett is more innovative in using seminar-style classes.'

Powell stated that one of his goals is to increase Truett's enrollment to 500 students in three years, but students voiced concern about how this would affect Truett's commitment to small, discussion-based seminar classes.

Seminary student Mike McEntyre said many students were promised small classes as part of the Truett learning experience and asked the new dean how he planned to honor that commitment to a small classroom.

Powell replied that he was not qualified to handle faculty and class-size issues, and that he would rely on Dr. David Garland, Truett's first associate dean of academic affairs, to build an adequate faculty for student needs. Powell then emphasized his role would be to build Truett's reputation among Texas Baptists.

'About the only thing I can do is be a glorified PR person,' Powell said. 'I was not called here to run the academics of this school or even the administration.'

Geoff Bailey, a third year student at Truett, said that students were happy that Powell clarified what his role would be as the seminary's dean.

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