More than 300 concerned alumni and friends of Hardin-Simmons University produced a strongly worded open letter Feb. 16 seeking answers about the recently announced closing of Logsdon Seminary.
“We are not only deeply hurt by the decision to close Logsdon, we are also gravely concerned with how this decision was made – behind closed doors,” a group of “concerned members of the Logsdon Seminary and HSU family” said in an e-mail attached to the open letter.
“We fear that the closing of Logsdon signals an attempt to silence moderate Baptist voices in Texas,” they said. “As a united community, we believe we can help bring light to the shadows of this vote. We hope you read the letter and consider signing.”
The group of “concerned pastors, community leaders, and Christians whose faith has been impacted by Logsdon graduates” invited more signatories to join the request for “greater transparency and compassion from the leadership of Hardin-Simmons University in the wake of the closure of Logsdon Seminary of Logsdon School of Theology.”
Led by Kyle Tubbs, president of the Logsdon Alumni Council, a list of signers numbering 368 as of Thursday morning asked Hardin-Simmons President Eric Bruntmyer and the board of trustees to conduct a an external audit of both the university and seminary in the interest of financial transparency.
“We no longer can say with confidence that we trust the data – and lack of data – provided as justification for the closure of Logsdon,” the letter said. If closing the seminary was, as the administration claims, “solely a financial decision,” the group asked for “transparency regarding the precise amount of money that will be saved by closing Logsdon Seminary” and the disclosure of other information “so that we may understand the financial necessity to close Logsdon and other beloved programs.”
The signers asked for a town-hall meeting allowing the board of trustees to listen to students, alumni and university faculty. “[W]e write to you feeling confused, uncared for and unheard,” they told the administration.
They also asked to see minutes from all trustee meetings, including executive sessions, from the last three years, so the Logsdon community “might know with confidence that the board of trustees sought to uphold the faithful principles and legacy of Hardin-Simmons University leadership.”
“We believe that transparency, truth and discretion are central to Baptist identity and Texan identity,” they said.
“Baptist history teaches us that the first Baptists were dissenters, speaking against those unjustly wielding power,” the letter said. “As signers of this letter, we return to our Baptist roots and dissent from the decision made by the board of trustees and those in power. We dissent from the misleading and insensitive communication of such a decision.”
Tubbs, a 2010 M.Div. graduate of Logsdon Seminary who works as new church starts manager for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, said Wednesday the people who signed the letter are looking for “financial transparency,” “listening and honest communication” and “integrity.”
A media contact for Hardin-Simmons did not respond to an invitation to comment.
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