ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) — Both sides of the debate have spoken when it comes to the impending closure of Hardin-Simmons University’s Logsdon Seminary. Now, a former dean of the seminary explains what he thinks led up to the decision.
Dr. Don Williford served as dean of Logsdon School of Theology for 7 years, retiring in 2017. He was there at the beginning, as the seminary was first laid out. He says only a few years ago, the finances were very healthy.
“The Logsdon Family Endowment, which was given specifically to the university to endow the Logsdon School of Theology, at the time of my retirement had about $10 million in its corpus,” said Dr. Williford.
Dr. Williford is convinced that finances had nothing to do with the decision. In fact, he says it was political, with prominent Texas pastors saying the school was “too liberal.”
“One of the major things mentioned was a concern about Logsdon perhaps supporting homosexuals to serve in paid staff positions in Baptist churches in Texas,” said Williford. “That is an absolute error. That is not the case.”
Official statements indicate the decision is final, and Logsdon will close its doors. Williford and others are hoping and praying for a change of heart.
“Evaluate it in light of the full understanding of what the moneys are, the thing for which they were given, and consider reinstating Logsdon Seminary and the Logsdon School of Theology,” said Williford.
Hardin-Simmons has published a Frequently Asked Questions page on their website. Here is an excerpt:
The decisions made by the board regarding the Logsdon School of Theology and the Logsdon Seminary seem to have been decided so suddenly. When did the board know there were financial issues and what did they know?
Internal university records and correspondence indicate as early as 2011 that Logsdon administrators knew that the School of Theology and Seminary were financially unsustainable, and appealed to the president for additional financial support.
Financial concerns were brought to the Board of Trustees six years ago when the administration retained the services of the Austen Group to identify low performing programs. In this process, the Seminary and School of Theology were identified as financially low performing programs. It was at this time that some areas of HSU began the creation of online courses to help curb declining enrollments. Because of the nature of our ATS Seminary accreditation, fully online programs are not allowed without a waiver. Logsdon Seminary and Logsdon School of Theology can request a waiver of this policy, but have historically chosen not to. Due to a variety of factors, enrollment numbers in both areas have continued to decline.
One year ago, the Logsdon Seminary Committee and the Finance and Audit Committee of the Board of Trustees discussed the seriousness of the financial situation of Logsdon Seminary and Logsdon School Theology. It was after these meetings that administration sat down with faculty and staff of both the Seminary and School of Theology to discuss once again the pathways to improve the financial condition of the Seminary and the School of Theology.
This past fall, the full Board of Trustees for Hardin-Simmons University met in a workshop setting to discuss the Seminary and School of Theology. After much prayer, sharing of information and discussion, the seriousness of the financial situation of the School of Theology and Seminary was fully understood by the board.
I do not understand the financial situation of Logsdon School of Theology and Logsdon Seminary. Can you help clarify?
The Logsdon School of Theology has a large series of endowment gifts that HSU is able to utilize to support the Logsdon School of Theology and all its programs, including the Seminary.
The current value of funds given to Logsdon School of Theology and Seminary is $32,463,000. These funds are restricted, which means that based on donor restrictions, HSU cannot use the entire amount, only a set distribution amount from those funds each year.
The distribution total on this amount on an annual basis is approximately $1,623,000.
Examining just the amounts from the most recent financial year, HSU spent $2,462,000 on salaries, employee benefits, travel, supplies, and equipment related to the Logsdon School of Theology and Seminary. We then spent another $1,797,000 on a variety of overhead costs related to Logsdon School of Theology and Seminary – including electricity, other utilities, rent on satellite campus facilities, maintenance, depreciation, repairs, and other expenses.
The total amount spent was approximately $4,259,000.
Considering this $4.259 million, then subtracting the endowment distribution of $1.623 million, leaves an unfunded cost of $2.636 million to be covered by other means.
Student tuition payments for Logsdon School of Theology and Logsdon Seminary, as well as BGCT support, provides an additional $1,368,254 per year.
Subtracting this $1,368,254 from the remaining $2.636 million leaves a deficit for the Logsdon School of Theology and Logsdon Seminary of $1.267 million in unfunded costs to be supported by other means at Hardin-Simmons University.
To see all of the frequently asked questions, click here.
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