ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) — A former dean of Logsdon Seminary says many of the Hardin-Simmons University (HSU) president’s provided reasons for closing the program may not be true.
In a lengthy blog post on BillJonesWritings.com, retired Dean of Logsdon Seminary Dr. Don Williford rebukes many claims made by HSU President Eric Bruntmyer that the decision to close the seminary program was strictly financial.
In a previous letter sent to the media, Bruntmyer wrote that funds were being redirected from the Logsdon School of Theology to the Logsdon Seminary. After detailing the creation of the Logsdon Seminary and Logsdon School of Theology, Williford disputes that claim, writing:
“Therefore, the claim that Logsdon School of Theology (LSTUG) funds were “being redirected” to Logsdon Seminary is patently untrue. The Logsdon Endowment Funds have from the outset belonged to the parent Logsdon School of Theology (LSTP) under which Logsdon Seminary and the non-seminary Logsdon School of Theology (LSTUG) programs were housed. Likewise, the claim that Logsdon Seminary “lacked appropriate funding from the very beginning” is not true. Hardin-Simmons was not using funds designated only for the Logsdon School of Theology (LSTUG) as denoting the non-seminary programs to cover $600,000.00 of the annual cost of funding the seminary. Both Logsdon Seminary and the non-seminary LST were and are entitled to share the Logsdon Endowment Funds.”
Williford contributes dwindling seminary enrollments to the elimination of the Logsdon Seminary Director of Recruitment and Student Services.
“That staff member had been quite successful in recruiting new students to Logsdon Seminary each year. The Administration’s action virtually guaranteed a diminishing of Logsdon Seminary’s ability to reach and enroll new students, since the University’s Office of Enrollment Management is devoted to the recruitment of Undergraduate students,” Williford writes.
Williford says due to a reduction in faculty positions in the program, the seminary doesn’t require as much financial support as it did 5-10 years ago.
He provides numbers regarding five endowments bestowed upon the Logsdon School of Theology that he says should still be available to both it and the seminary.
“In summary, a careful reexamination of the financial viability of Logsdon Seminary, in light of the information in the preceding paragraphs, seems fully justified,” Williford writes.
Williford also writes that the relocation of the Logsdon School of Theology under the Cynthia Ann Parker College of Liberal Arts may be “a violation of official trust” because when the original endowment was received, it was meant to establish the Logsdon School of Theology as a separate school.
The former dean then turns to tuition income as another reason the program should still be financially viable. “Considering the faculty reductions, which have primarily impacted Logsdon Seminary and endowment incomes which rightfully provide funding to both seminary and non-seminary programs, along with income from tuition income generated by both entities, it seems inconceivable that Logsdon Seminary should be creating such a financial crisis for Hardin-Simmons University,” the post states.
Finally, Williford posits potential political reasons might be behind the decision to close the Logsdon Seminary program:
“Several individuals currently connected to HSU and the Board of Trustees have revealed that Mr. Bruntmyer accused Logsdon Seminary and Logsdon (LSTUG) faculty of being liberal. He addressed this issue in a meeting of the entire HSU Faculty, in a meeting of the Executive Committee of the Trustees, in conversations with several members of the Board of Trustees in different settings, and apparently to the full Board of Trustees. For that accusation to have been addressed so many times, it appears to have been very prominent in the discussions to close Logsdon Seminary,” Williford writes.
In further detail, Williford describes a reported meeting between Bruntmyer and four other pastors:
“In addition to Dr. Hardage, three pastors participated in the meeting: Howie Batson, Pastor, FBC Amarillo; Bobby Dagnel, Pastor, FBC Lubbock; and Darin Wood, Pastor, FBC Midland. These four individuals accused Logsdon Seminary of promoting LGBTQ individuals, homosexuals in particular, to serve in leadership positions in Texas Baptist churches. Mr. Bruntmyer told the faculty and other individuals and groups in different settings that these pastors said they would no longer send students from their churches to Hardin-Simmons because Logsdon had become so liberal. This sounds to me like thinly veiled threats at the least or outright blackmail at the worst,” the post states.
Williford closes with a call to action, writing: “I appeal to you to reconsider the action you’ve taken in light of the insights presented in this letter. Faithful stewardship demands it.”
To read the full blog post, click here.
Hardin-Simmons University says they plan to release more information on their financial situation on Thursday.
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