Garland Appointed Dean, As Powell Announces Retirement From Truett Seminary

  • News Photo 4000
    David Garland
  • News Photo 3999
    Paul Powell
March 19, 2007

by Lori Fogleman, director of media relations, (254) 710-6275

Dr. Randall O'Brien, provost and executive vice president at Baylor University, has announced the appointment of Dr. David E. Garland, associate dean for academic affairs and The William M. Hinson Professor of Christian Scriptures, as dean of George W. Truett Theological Seminary.

A unanimous selection of the Truett faculty, Garland will begin his term as dean on June 1. He will succeed well-known Texas Baptist pastor and leader Paul W. Powell, who will officially retire on May 31.

In February 2001, Powell, the retired president and CEO of both the Robert M. Rogers Foundation of Tyler, Texas, and the Annuity Board of the Southern Baptist Convention, was appointed to serve as Truett's dean. During Powell's six-year tenure, Truett Seminary's enrollment more than doubled to 381 students, while the seminary's endowment increased to more than $38 million.

"I would say of Paul Powell what (former Houston Oilers football coach) Bum Phillips once said about Earl Campbell: 'He might not be in a class by himself, but it surely doesn't take long to call the roll,'" O'Brien said. "Paul Powell has carved his name into the Baylor University Hall of Fame, where he will stand forever as a giant on the George W. Truett Seminary landscape. There are a lot of great Texas Baptists, but there is only one Paul Powell."

Following his retirement, Powell will stay involved at the seminary as special assistant to the dean.

"Being Dean of Truett Seminary has been a wonderful way to cap off my career," Powell said. "I came to help give a clear identity to the school, to help people realize that we are a Christ-centered, Bible-based seminary committed to our historic Baptist principles. Our mission is to train the next generation of ministers and missionaries. Our vision is to be the premiere Baptist theological seminary of the world. I feel we have helped to clarify our identity and made the seminary more church-centered with a strong emphasis on preparing ministers for the local church. While older and more established seminaries are in decline, Truett is emerging as the seminary choice among true Baptists."

An honored New Testament scholar and author, Garland began his tenure at Truett Seminary in 1997 as professor of Christian scriptures and was appointed to the Hinson Chair in 2005. He was appointed associate dean for academic affairs at Truett in 2001, as Powell began as dean.

Before coming to Baylor, Garland taught for more than 20 years at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, serving as chair of the Biblical Division and as The Ernest and Mildred Hogan Professor of New Testament. A magna cum laude graduate of Oklahoma Baptist University and U.S. Navy veteran, Garland received his master of divinity and doctoral degrees from SBTS and also completed postgraduate work at Eberhardt-Karls Universität in Tübingen, Germany, and Macquarrie University in Sydney, Australia.

Both O'Brien and Powell, as well as other seminary scholars and Baptist leaders, praised Garland's appointment as dean.

"David Garland is a nationally renowned New Testament scholar whose biblical commentaries meet with acclaim among scholars, ministers and laymen," O'Brien said. "He is a gifted homilist, much in demand in our churches, a careful exegete and an inspirational teacher and mentor for our ministerial students. Having served as associate dean of the seminary for the past six years, David brings a wealth of experience to his new position as dean, along with the unanimous endorsement of the seminary faculty. No doubt David is the person for the hour."

"I am very pleased that my associate David Garland will be the new dean," Powell said. "I recommended him to President Lilley because I believe he is the best person to keep Truett church-centered and to carry it to greater heights. He has been invaluable in handling all academic matters during my tenure. I don't know of anyone more capable than he."

"The appointment of David Garland as Paul Powell's successor pleases me greatly," said Dr. Charles Wade, executive director of the Baptist General Convention of Texas. "I have known David over the past eight years and believe he brings to this task great skills in biblical interpretation, theological insight, homiletical power and administrative ability. He is a great friend to students, and he is a true Baptist with a great Kingdom commitment. As Texas Baptists get to know this good man, they will be confident that the future of our ministerial training at Truett Seminary is in really good hands."

"David Garland is widely recognized in the world of New Testament studies for his careful and insightful scholarship, particularly his commentaries on the Gospel of Matthew and on Paul's Corinthian letters," said Dr. Richard B. Hays, The George Washington Ivey Professor of New Testament at Duke University's Divinity School. "Truett seminary is fortunate to gain Dr. Garland's leadership, for he is a scholar who represents the highest academic standards, while at the same time understanding the practical needs and concerns of the church."

In addition to his research, teaching and administrative duties, Garland directed both of Truett Seminary's self-studies for accreditation by the Association of Theological Schools, from 2000-02 and 2005-07.

"In that time the seminary has doubled in enrollment and received its first accreditation," Garland said. "In the most recent comprehensive evaluation site visit last week, the visitors complimented us on the strength of our program and remarked informally that we are one of the best kept secrets in the country - 'almost too good to be true.' This success was made possible through Dean Powell's tireless fundraising and commitment to connecting the seminary to the local church. I intend to maintain that vision, but no one could ever fill his shoes. He is a giant among Texas Baptists."

"Well known as an accomplished New Testament scholar and pastor, Dr. Garland has been instrumental in Truett's rapid growth and development," said Dr. Tisa Lewis, director of Accreditation and Institutional Evaluation for the Association of Theological Schools. "In his gentle, unassuming way, he immediately welcomes students, colleagues and other constituents of the seminary. Dr. Garland's distinguished experience in the classroom, the pulpit and as Truett's chief academic officer for the past seven years will serve him well as he moves this fine school toward an even brighter future."

Garland is the author or co-author of 17 books, including the just-released Flawed Families of the Bible: How God's Grace Works Through Imperfect Relationships (Brazos Press, 2007), co-authored with his wife, Dr. Diana R. Garland, who serves as dean of Baylor's School of Social Work. Three of Garland's books have been honored with major awards, including:

• Mark: The NIV Application Commentary (Zondervan, 1996), which was awarded the 1997 Silver Medallion for reference works and commentaries by the Christian Booksellers Association;

• "Gospel of Mark," pages 204-317 in Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary (Zondervan, 2002), edited by Clinton E. Arnold, honored with the 2003 Gold Medallion for reference works and commentaries by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association; and

• 1 Corinthians, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Baker, 2003), honored with two awards: the 2004 Silver Medallion for reference works and commentaries by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association and the 2004 Award of Merit from Christianity Today.

Garland also has written numerous articles and reviews for scholarly journals and dictionaries and currently serves as editor of the Expositor's Bible Commentary. He has given more than 25 invited academic lectures at universities and colleges in Germany, Australia and throughout the United States. He has remained closely connected to the local church, serving as interim pastor at 17 churches in Kentucky, Indiana and Texas.

An elected member of the international Studiorum Novi Testamenti Societas, Garland also is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature and National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion. From 2003-04, he was president of the Association of Dean of Schools Partnering with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. In 2001, he served on the executive committee for the Institute for Biblical Research and from 1993-98 as a member of the board of advisers of the Dead Sea Scrolls Foundation in Jerusalem.

In 2005, Baylor announced that an anonymous donor had established The David E. Garland Chair in Preaching, acknowledging the leadership, vision and devotion to ministry that characterizes Garland's service in the pastorate and as a professor. The Garland Chair at Truett Seminary will be filled in fall 2007. At the same time, another anonymous donor established The Diana R. Garland Endowed Chair in Child and Family Services, recognizing the Baylor School of Social Work's growth and excellence under Diana's leadership.

The Garlands are members of Calvary Baptist Church in Waco. They have two children, Sarah and John, and a daughter-in-law, Abby. In addition to the books they have co-authored, the Garlands received the Priscilla and Aquila Award for "Those Who Have Risked Their Necks for the Gospel" (Romans 16:3-4) from Christians for Biblical Equality in August 2003.

As Garland assumes the mantle as dean, Powell can list multiple accomplishments at Truett under his leadership, including the January 2002 opening of the 64,000-square-foot Baugh-Reynolds Campus of Truett Seminary on the Baylor campus. Other accomplishments include:

• Increased endowment to more than $38 million, while the average American seminary has only $8 million in endowment

• Increased enrollment from 150 to 381 students

• Began a two-year home study program that has an enrollment of 190

• Began six pastors' conferences that draw 1,500 ministers to the campus each year

• Began a monthly pastoral newsletter to pastors with information about Truett and pastoral helps

• Endowed three chairs and two lectureships

• Endowed The Kyle Lake Center for Effective Preaching

• Established an annual preaching award to recognize Truett's outstanding preaching student each semester

• Began an annual Founders Day to recognize the contribution of George W. Truett to the cause of Christ

• Established a referral/placement service to help churches and Truett graduates

• Began an honorary alumnus program that now has close to 400 members

• Began holding own commencement exercises at the seminary

• Written and given to ministers more than 25,000 books to make Truett known among Baptists.

"Paul Powell has been a gift to Texas Baptists," Wade said. "His great passion for the gospel of Jesus Christ, for mentoring young ministers and getting Truett Seminary off to a great start has blessed all Baptists, who yearn for authentic Baptist witness in our world. He has been another Apostle Paul to our churches. His sense of humor and his habit of being straightforward in his preaching and conversation have left a great impact on Baptist life. I have been especially grateful for the way he has opened Truett Seminary to our Hispanic, African-American, western heritage and bi-vocational ministers for conferences and growth opportunities. Truett Seminary has become a gathering place for all Texas Baptists."

A well-respected Baptist leader and Distinguished Alumnus of Baylor, Powell earned his bachelor's degree from Baylor in 1956, as well as a master of divinity degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1960. He holds five honorary degrees from East Texas Baptist University, Baylor, the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, Campbell University and Dallas Baptist University. He is the author of 42 books, as well as numerous articles and chapters as a contributing editor or writer.

In addition to his leadership of both the Rogers Foundation and the Annuity Board, Powell served in numerous offices with the Baptist General Convention of Texas, including a term as president from 1985-87. A former Baylor regent and board chairman, Powell also has served as president of the board of advisers for Texas Baptist Leadership and as a trustee of Baylor Medical Center, ETBU, UMHB and the Texas Baptist Children's Home in Round Rock.

Powell also served as pastor for 34 years at Texas Baptist churches in Belfalls, Troy, Taylor, San Marcos and Tyler, where he was pastor of Green Acres Baptist Church from 1972-89. A much sought-after speaker, he continues to preach regularly at churches throughout Texas.

He has received numerous honors, including distinguished alumni awards from Baylor in 1988 and Southwestern Seminary in 1990, the Presidents Medallion Award from Campbell University in 1998, the Herbert H. Reynolds Awards for Exemplary Service to Baylor in 1999, the George W. Truett Distinguished Church Service Award from the Baylor Alumni Association in 2005, and the "Heart of A Champion" Award from the East Texas chapter of Fellowship of Christian Athletes in 2006.

Powell and his wife, Cathy, a 1956 Baylor graduate, have three children, Kent, Mike and Lori, and three grandchildren, Jordan, Katie and Matthew.

"I love Baylor and have been closely associated with it for 23 years - 16 as a regent and seven as an employee," Powell said. "I will continue to work for Truett on a part-time basis as special assistant to the dean and will be involved in fundraising, writing and representing Truett to the churches."

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