Southwestern expands women's support initiatives

by Julie Owens & Alex Sibley, posted Thursday, June 06, 2019 (19 days ago)

SWBTS photo
FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) -- Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has launched multiple initiatives to further its equipping and empowering of women to answer the call to serve the Lord, President Adam W. Greenway announced today (June 6).

The initiatives include the establishment of the Southwestern Women's Center, new faculty titles and roles and an update and revision of the women's studies and women's ministry curricula.

"Our seminary has been at the forefront of Southern Baptist efforts to provide the highest quality ministry training for God-called women since our earliest days, led by such trailblazers as Neppie Scarborough and Floy Barnard," Greenway stated.

"The personnel and programmatic changes our administration is making across the institution," he said, "are designed with an overarching purpose in mind: making sure Southwestern Seminary is maximizing the gifts and talents of all members of our seminary family, especially our female faculty, staff and students.

"While programs have their place, our seminary is first and foremost about people, and I am thankful for what our Lord is doing on Seminary Hill to expand opportunities for women to flourish on our campus and in their callings," Greenway said.

Southwestern Women's Center

The Southwestern Women's Center, to housed in the Horner House, will provide a central location for any female member of the Southwestern family to seek resources, connection, practical training and mentoring as a catalyst for professional, academic and leadership development.

The Women's Center also will host events to promote a robust and positive climate for women on campus through discussion groups, mentoring, networking and advising.

Randy L. Stinson, provost and vice president for academic administration, said the Horner House, in expanding its role in serving and creating community among women at Southwestern, will be "the hub for academic and social opportunities specifically for women."

To lead the initiative, Terri Stovall, formerly dean of women's programs, has been named dean of women.

Her office -- along with that of Katie McCoy, assistant professor of theology in women's studies -- will be located in the Women's Center, providing a designated, confidential place where women can express needs or concerns.

Stovall's new title reflects a wider scope of her responsibilities.

The previous title was an academic dean who had oversight over the seminary's varied women-focused programs, Stovall said. "I still will be responsible for those programs, but beyond the academics, I am also here to serve all Southwestern women, be they students, spouses, faculty or staff. Particularly, this change indicates the administration's desire to have a woman, who has some authority, to be a safe person for a woman to come should she need to express a concern or need. This was one of Dr. Greenway's first priorities and changes he made for women at Southwestern.

"As a woman who has been in ministry in the local church and academia now for 35 years, I know that being a woman in ministry is not always easy," Stovall said. "And sometimes, you just need someone to be your advocate in difficult, often painful times. I am grateful that Dr. Greenway, Dr. Stinson and the administration recognize the value of having a woman who can be that advocate."

Stinson said Stovall is "the ideal woman to give additional strategic care to all of the women on the Southwestern Seminary campus. She is already a respected colleague, and her new role as dean of women will expand her influence to the entire student body."

Though the title "dean of women" is new for Stovall, Greenway noted that it "connects well with our heritage," as the title was inaugurated by Floy Barnard in 1933, who served in the role for 27 years and for whom Barnard Hall is named.

"We already do a lot for women at Southwestern but wanted to be more intentional, more available and more focused to serve women and to influence the culture here at Southwestern," Stovall said. "In addition to our regular open hours, we will be planning specific opportunities for professional and ministry development, hands-on leadership skills enhancement, colloquiums for our female doctoral students and other activities that will serve the Southwestern woman as she prepares for the next ministry the Lord has for her."

Curricula updates

Coinciding with the launch of the Southwestern Women's Center, the women's studies and women's ministry concentrations have been revised and updated.

The revision to the women's studies concentration aims to provide women a clear focus on reaching the world for Christ. Courses such as Feminism in Church and Culture, Contemporary Issues in Women and Gender Issues, and Women's Dignity and Global Concern will build on foundational courses to equip women to respond to today's culture from a biblical and theological foundation.

The women's ministry concentration has been updated to enrich women's unique gifts that enhance their approach to ministry and leadership, honing those skills and gifts to be used in the array of ministry opportunities for women. Courses such as Women in Leadership, Counseling Women, and Engaging Women in Missions and Ministry will enhance training in leadership, missions and ministry development.

New Scarborough associate dean

In addition to these women-focused initiatives, Sarah Spring has been appointed associate dean for student success in Scarborough College, a role that will see her investing in every member of the seminary's undergraduate student body.

"With a background in student success at other institutions, Dr. Spring will focus her efforts on improving the overall student experience through academic advising, the Writing Center and other initiatives," Greenway said. "I believe Dr. Spring's new role will be a great asset in helping us see Scarborough College achieve its full potential."

Spring has served as associate professor of English in Scarborough College since 2014 and also is director of the Writing Center. Teaching, she said, gives her the opportunity to pour her life into students and colleagues one-on-one, with many parallels to discipleship.

"With Dr. Greenway's administration comes a renewed emphasis on retention," Spring said. "One of our major goals is to create a student success center that will focus on a variety of needs: academic coaching, writing mentoring and language tutoring to name but a few. Ultimately, we desire to help every student successfully navigate his or her degree program, linking students who want assistance with the appropriate resources."

Spring holds Ph.D. and master of arts degrees from Texas A&M University and an undergraduate degree from the University of Central Arkansas.

Before coming to Southwestern Seminary, she taught courses at Texas A&M and Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C.

Michael Wilkinson, dean of Scarborough College, said Spring "has distinguished herself as an outstanding professor who cares deeply about her students."

"Student success is something that Dr. Spring has been passionate about since she began teaching here. She has consistently implemented ideas to help students overcome obstacles and strongly complete their coursework, also seeking to help them develop life skills beyond the classroom … [and] in their spiritual growth."

Julie Owens is a writer for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; Alex Sibley is the seminary's associate director for news and information.
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