Southern Baptist school association elects Bob Agee executive director

NEW ORLEANS (BP)--Board members of the Association of Southern Baptist Colleges and Schools (ASBCS) have elected fellow board member Bob Agee, retiring president of Oklahoma Baptist University, as their executive director effective, June 1, 1998.

The election came during a board meeting Dec. 9 in New Orleans held in conjunction with a meeting of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Agee, president of OBU since September 1982, will retire from that position Aug. 31. After assuming the helm of the association, Agee will become president emeritus of OBU with no administrative responsibilities, but he will continue to do fund-raising and assist the university in the transition of leadership.

ASBCS is an association of 65 Southern Baptist-related seminaries, colleges, universities, Bible colleges and academies. ASBCS was formerly staffed by employees of the Southern Baptist Education Commission. The commission was dissolved Dec. 31, 1996, as part of the Southern Baptist Convention's "Covenant for a New Century" restructuring.

Steve Carleton, former executive director of the association, resigned June 30 to direct a private medical education foundation in Oklahoma City. A search committee chaired by Howell Todd, president of Mississippi College, recommended Agee to the 15-member operating board.

After the board went into executive session, ASBCS chairman Don Schmeltekopf, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Baylor University, said the recommendation by the search committee to elect Agee as executive director was unanimous.

"Dr. Agee has been active in the life of the association for many years, holding a variety of positions and serving on a number of committees. He served on the transition committee which guided the association from its connection to the Education Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention to an independent status which it has now assumed," Schmeltekopf said.

Agee has been involved with the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities and served on its board of directors for several years. He was a member of the Education Commission and served as chairman for two years. Agee brings not only proven campus and chief executive experience but also an understanding of the value and work of academic associations, in particular those connected with church-related higher education.

"In addition to many other strong qualities, Agee brings a 'big tent' approach to the work of the association," Schmeltekopf told board members. "The ability of ASBCS to be effective in supporting our diverse Baptist educational institutions depends directly on the member schools' collective capacity to not only accept our diversity but also to benefit from it. The member schools can count on Agee to treat all of us with respect and dignity regardless of our institution's mission, size, location, theological position or relation to Baptist state convention or other Baptist bodies."

Agee, who earlier this year suffered a second bout with leukemia, said chemotherapy treatments have been effective in improving his health.

Nevertheless, Agee said the treatment and recovery process "prompted me to take a long hard look at my life and work priorities. The ASBCS position will allow me to give leadership to a vital faith-related educational enterprise with a global missions/education impact that also will allow me to give a higher priority to my family."

During the board meeting, members agreed to locate ASBCS headquarters in Jackson, Tenn., where Agee and his wife, Nelle, have purchased a home. The Agees' two daughters and three grandchildren live in Jackson and Nashville, Tenn.

ASBCS board members asked Tim Fields, president of Fields Communications and Publishing in Nashville, who has been serving as interim executive director and managing editor of The Southern Baptist Educator, to continue in that role until June 1.

Fields will then assume the position of director of communications for ASBCS, responsible for communications, publications and technical support including an Internet web site and an electronic placement registry.

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