Newspaper reports tenure refusal for Southwestern woman prof

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP)—A woman who had held a tenure-track position was denied tenure at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2004, according to a Jan. 19 Dallas Morning News story.

The professor, Sheri Klouda, was given a tenure-track position to teach Hebrew in Southwestern’s school of theology when she received her Ph.D. at the Fort Worth, Texas, campus in 2002, according to the newspaper report.

Klouda, who also is a Criswell College graduate, now teaches at Taylor University in Indiana.

Van McClain, chairman of Southwestern’s board of trustees, told the Dallas Morning News that the seminary has returned to its "traditional, confessional and biblical position" that a woman should not instruct men in theology courses or in biblical languages.

McClain said the seminary was gracious to Klouda as she looked for a teaching position at another school. "The administration ... allowed her to teach a full two years after she was told that she would not have tenure," McClain told the newspaper, “... and the seminary even agreed to continue her support after her teaching responsibilities were over, so her family would have financial support. The seminary went far beyond anything that could be expressed as its duty or responsibility."

McClain also told the newspaper, "I do not know of any women teaching in any of the SBC seminaries presently in the area of theology or biblical languages. In my estimation all of the seminaries have sought to be more consistent with most Southern Baptists' understanding of Scripture on the matter."

Patterson declined comment on the issue, the newspaper said.

Klouda, contacted by the newspaper, said, "I don't think it was right to hire me to do this job, to put me in the position where I, in good faith, assumed that I was working toward tenure, and then suddenly remove me without any cause other than gender."

When Klouda was hired for the tenure-track position in 2002, Ken Hemphill was the seminary’s president. At that time, "There was not a policy where [women] would not be able to teach church history or the [biblical] languages," Hemphill told the newspaper. Hemphill resigned as Southwestern’s president in 2003 and Patterson was selected by the trustees as his successor.

The newspaper noted that Patterson’s wife Dorothy continues to teach in Southwestern’s school of theology, with McClain explaining that she teaches courses in women's studies that are attended only by women.

The newspaper centered much of its coverage on issues raised in a weblog by Oklahoma pastor Wade Burleson who challenged Klouda’s departure from Southwestern.

“Sheri Klouda is not a pastor, she has not been ordained or licensed, she does not perform ministerial duties,” Burleson told the newspaper. “... The same institution that conferred her degree and hired her has now removed her for gender. To me, that is a very serious, ethical, moral breach.” Burleson is pastor of Emmanual Baptist Church in Enid, Okla., and a trustee of the International Mission Board.


Compiled by Art Toalston.

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