Adam Greenway’s threat to sue Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary for $5 million is “absurd,” according to the seminary’s attorney and “baseless and incredibly disappointing,” according to the seminary’s trustee chairman.
Greenway, who resigned as president of the Fort Worth, Texas, school under intense pressure in September 2022, sent a demand letter to seminary trustees Sept. 25, according to Michael D. Anderson, attorney for the seminary. Anderson’s written response to Greenway’s letter was provided to BNG by seminary officials, as was a statement from trustee Chairman Jonathan Richard.
Liam Adams of the Nashville Tennessean was the first to report on the demand from Greenway in an Oct. 17 article. BNG has not been able to obtain a copy of Greenway’s letter, but its authenticity as reported by the Tennessean has not been challenged by any of the parties.
The statements released from Richard and Anderson reference the letter and its demand for $5 million. Anderson’s letter gives a detailed response to each point of Greenway’s letter and also includes detailed financial reports that were not provided to BNG.
Chairman Richard, a New Mexico pastor, said: “The demand letter from Adam Greenway is baseless and incredibly disappointing, especially given his professed love for this institution. Over the past year, we have continued to pray for Dr. Greenway’s spiritual, mental and emotional well-being as we have worked toward an amicable resolution, which we had every reason to believe had been achieved with the agreement signed in February of this year. As stewards of precious institutional resources, we cannot in good conscience capitulate to his absurd demand for $5 million. Our focus remains on confronting the financial challenges facing Southwestern, which would only be compounded by agreeing to his demand.”
“As stewards of precious institutional resources, we cannot in good conscience capitulate to his absurd demand for $5 million.”
Echoing a similar statement from the seminary attorney, Richard declared: “If Dr. Greenway should decide to file suit, we will defend aggressively the seminary against every claim. The facts, when fully known, will reveal a very different reality than the one contained in his demand letter.”
Although the dire nature of Southwestern’s financial situation was not publicly known at the time of Greenway’s exit, details emerged over the following months. Both trustee officers and the data made available painted a picture of massive declines in enrollment and financial instability not only during Greenway’s three-year administration but beginning with his predecessor, Paige Patterson.
Over a 21-year period, the Southern Baptist Convention seminary ran a $141 million cumulative deficit.
Among a litany of questionable financial practices, trustees accused Greenway of lavish spending on the president’s home he occupied and on first-class travel for himself and his family.
Greenway has publicly demanded a detailed accounting of his alleged misdeeds. Trustees have released general information but have not made public the detailed results of an internal financial audit. Those details were mentioned as an attachment to Anderson’s letter but were not provided to BNG.
Anderson, who is a partner in the law firm Kelly Hart, said, “All matters between SWBTS and Dr. Greenway were resolved as part of the parties’ February 2023 Settlement Agreement. SWBTS has fully complied with its obligations under the Settlement Agreement and will continue to do so.”
Details of that settlement have not been made public.
Anderson said seminary officials have not defamed Greenway but have done the very thing he asked for by giving account of Greenway’s alleged financial mismanagement.
“The fact that Dr. Greenway does not like the results of that financial review and the public disclosure of it (which he demanded) does not make the results of the financial review false or in any way defamatory.”
“As specifically requested by Dr. Greenway on social media, SWBTS released its findings regarding a financial review of expenses incurred by SWBTS during Dr. Greenway’s tenure,” the attorney wrote. “The fact that Dr. Greenway does not like the results of that financial review and the public disclosure of it (which he demanded) does not make the results of the financial review false or in any way defamatory.”
Anderson’s letter addresses three specific concerns that apparently were raised in Greenway’s letter:
- Release of a joint statement of the parties’ February 2023 settlement, which was given to Baptist Press, the SBC’s in-house news service. Greenway apparently wanted the joint statement posted to the seminary’s website.
- Statements made by former trustee Chairman Danny Roberts in spring 2023 that described the nature of the seminary’s financial troubles and Greenway’s role in mismanaging them.
- Public accusations that Greenway overspent on the president’s home. Originally reported by trustees as $1.5 million, Greenway apparently countered the real number was $500,000, but Anderson now reports the real number was $1.8 million.
Although the most damning details of the financial audit were not provided to BNG, Anderson’s letter documents repeated warnings Greenway was given by then-Chief Financial Officer Colby Adams.
Anderson quotes from a May 24, 2022, email from Adams to Greenway and others: “We need to continue to monitor expenses in our areas going into the summer. I would recommend that we hold on any unnecessary expenses, especially large expenses. This is true even if there is budget available in a specific area.”
At that moment, Anderson said, the seminary’s “cash position was $9,441,394 lower than it had been the prior year.”
Then on June 28, 2022, Adams again warned Greenway of the “ugly” financial situation of the school: “The primary concern is our cash position. At the end of May, our cash position was very low but the month end came immediately after a payroll run. While we do have some significant revenue coming in June and July, tuition won’t start to come in until August. We are working on a couple ideas to take to the Institutional Administration Committee to address our cash position for the remainder of the summer. Anything you all can do to hold on non-essential spending is critical.”
By that point, the seminary’s “unrestricted cash position was $281,769, which was $10,280,123 lower than it had been the prior year,” Anderson explained. “It is undisputed that Dr. Greenway had this information via email and via financial reports that were provided to him. The evidence will also show that Dr. Greenway made decisions to reduce some expenses in June of 2022 in light of the financial condition facing SWBTS.”
“I am, frankly, stunned that Dr. Greenway continues to claim ignorance about SWBTS’s financial position given the evidence to the contrary and given his position as president.”
He then summarized: “I am, frankly, stunned that Dr. Greenway continues to claim ignorance about SWBTS’s financial position given the evidence to the contrary and given his position as president. Surely, this is not a matter that Dr. Greenway wants to litigate.”
Anderson’s letter indicates at some point in the future, seminary leaders will release “the full trustee investigative report including all related findings, without edit or redaction.”
Thirteen months after Greenway’s forced resignation, that level of detail has yet to be made public by seminary officials. Nor have they explained how the school floated its $141 million cumulative deficit.
Some seminary insiders and former administrators have charged both Patterson and Greenway used designated gifts and funds acting as endowment creatively. Others have alleged funds were redirected when they were withdrawn from the SBC’s Guidestone Financial Services and placed with new investment managers because Guidestone employees could not work with Patterson and his staff.
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