Paige Patterson, the president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and former president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (SEBTS) received the highest honor from Southeastern, the Presidential Award.
Patterson was presented with the award on April 1 before preaching at the missions commissioning chapel during the spring Board of Trustees and Board of Visitors meeting. Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern, acknowledged Patterson’s role in making the seminary a place to equip students to serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission.
Patterson came to SEBTS in 1992, a crucial time in its history. Enrollment was under 700 students and the school was placed on probation by both of its accrediting agencies. Many predicted the school would not survive.
“Dr. Patterson stepped in and provided inspiring and visionary leadership,” Akin said. “A spirit of revival swept across the campus and within a short time, enrollment was skyrocketing and the probations were removed.”
Missions, evangelism and expository preaching became distinguishing marks of the seminary under Patterson. “Southeastern is able to do what it does today because of the rock solid foundation laid by Paige Patterson,” Akin emphasized.
Bruce Ashford, provost of Southeastern, had Patterson as his systematic theology teacher during his M.Div. studies and his dissertation supervisor for Ph.D. studies.
“At both levels, he was an absolutely outstanding teacher,” Ashford said. “He knew how to challenge a student to get the most out of him, how to humble a student who thought too much of himself, and how to encourage a student who had little confidence.”
“In the 1990s, Dr. Patterson led SEBTS from being a dying institution beholden to biblically unfaithful theology to being a thriving institution under the submission to Christ and his word. For that, we will remain ever grateful,” Ashford added.
Under Patterson’s leadership, the school recovered from a drop to 688 students in 1992 and was at 2,350 students when he left in the summer of 2003. The 2+2/3 and Ph.D. programs were launched to increase academic opportunities at the seminary.
Ryan Hutchinson, vice president for operations, at Southeastern said, “Dr. Patterson was God’s man at the right time to lead the course correction of Southeastern.”
Patterson oversaw the turnover of almost all of the faculty leading to 100 percent of faculty members that were committed to the inerrancy of Scripture. He instituted the signing of the Baptist Faith & Message 2000 as one of the two confessional documents that SEBTS faculty members are required to sign upon election.
Southeastern’s budget grew from $6.05M to $17.9M. The seminary expanded student housing from 225 units to over 600 units and constructed the Jacumin-Simpson Mission Center. Several buildings on campus were renovated, including Bostwick Hall, Goldston Hall, Manor House, Stephens-Mackie and Adams Hall. The campus master plan was developed and still serves as the backbone of Southeastern’s current master plan.
“While some thought his coming would be the demise of the seminary, Dr. Patterson’s leadership, under the hand of God, was how the seminary was saved,” Hutchinson noted. “It was a joy to serve under him from 1997 to 2003, and I am forever grateful for the investment that he made in my life.”
“May the future graduates of Southeastern go forth into ministry with the same courage that Dr. Patterson showed to stand for the exclusivity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the inerrancy of the Bible and a passion to see lost souls reconciled to God,” Hutchinson said.
To view photos from this event, please click here.
To watch Patterson's sermon online, please click here.
The mission of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping students to serve the church and fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Southeastern is an institution of higher learning and a Cooperate Program ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention.