Trustees of Hardin-Simmons University voiced “full confidence” in President Eric Bruntmyer – under fire since the Feb. 7 decision to close Cooperative Baptist Fellowship-aligned Logsdon Seminary – during a called meeting Feb. 27.
An open letter from the university’s board of trustees released late Friday afternoon reaffirmed recent decisions to cut low-performing programs in a strategic financial plan “to ensure that Hardin-Simmons University is a viable, financially stable institution that can move forward with boldness.”
The board met in what Logsdon Seminary loyalists described as an emergency meeting after the Hardin-Simmons faculty reportedly voted just short of a required two-thirds majority for a formal no-confidence vote in the president. Baptist News Global reached out to both faculty and university staff but could not independently verify the vote, which has gone unchallenged during several days of discussion on social media.
Friday’s press release recognized “that many individuals have been affected by this recent decision.”
“There is no doubt that our community shares a deep love for our campus and its programs, and these changes do not diminish the contributions that our faculty and staff have made to provide a quality education to so many,” the trustees said.
Logsdon Seminary is one of 22 academic programs being cut in an effort to trim $4 million from the university’s budget. Opened in 2004 to grant master’s degrees within the university’s Logsdon School of Theology, the seminary currently enrolls about 125 students full- and part-time.
University officials said the decision to close the seminary is based on economics, but many believe other factors are at play. Logsdon Seminary opened at a time when leadership of the Baptist General Convention of Texas opposed changes making six seminaries owned by the Southern Baptist Convention – one of them in Texas – more conservative.
Today’s BGCT leadership enjoys a cozier relationship with the SBC. Michael Evans, president of the Baptist General Convention of Texas, for example, spoke Feb. 20 in chapel at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth.
The Georgia-based Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, meanwhile, is reportedly losing support in Texas since the 2018 adoption of an ambiguous policy on the hiring of LGBTQ workers. The BGCT executive board ousted three churches closely identified with CBF in 2017 for being too inclusive of sexual minorities.
More than 550 concerned members of the Hardin-Simmons University and Logsdon Seminary community issued an open letter Feb. 16 calling for financial transparency and “listening and honest communication” about the reasons behind closing Logsdon Seminary.
Kyle Tubbs, president of the Logsdon Alumni Council, said Friday’s trustee statement does not address those concerns.
“I am inspired by alumni and friends of Logsdon coming together to advocate for what is right,” Tubbs, new church starts manager for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, said Friday.
“For the last three weeks, we have been united to shine light on the truth,” Tubbs said via email. “The deep impact the seminary had on the ministers they trained is now evidenced by the intense passion of Logsdon supporters. I am also encouraged by the brilliance of fellow Logsdon allies helping us create strategy for our next steps in our efforts to craft a better way forward.”