January 25, 2006
Dr. Jimmy Dukes, Dean
Extension Center System
New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary
3939 Gentilly Blvd.
New Orleans, LA 70126
Dear Dr. Dukes:
While I regret that the nature of my letter concerns your role as chairman of the Commission on Accrediting for the Association of Theological Schools, I first wish to thank you for your faithful service to Southern Baptists, in particular, during these difficult days at New Orleans Seminary following the Katrina disaster. You have a long and honored tenure of service at New Orleans, serving under both Drs. Landrum Leavell and Chuck Kelley, and I am confident that your distinguished career has well suited you to address the issues which this notice of complaint raises.
I submit to you this letter of official complaint against one of the member institutions accredited by the Association of Theological Schools, and I am forwarding this letter to the members of the Commission on Accrediting for their review. Officially, I am still a student of record at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, though circumstances unrelated to this immediate complaint but consistent with a potential trend of accrediting violations has caused me to suspend the pursuit of any degree from the Fort Worth seminary and pursue doctoral candidacy at another institution.
I am requesting that you investigate what appears to be a serious breach of the accreditation guidelines for Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, TX. Should the commission determine that such a breach has occurred, I hereby request that you undertake any and all means necessary to bring Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary back in line with the accreditation guidelines of the Association of Theological Schools.
Below are the facts that warrant investigation by the Commission on Colleges:
- During the April 8-10, 2002, Trustee Meeting of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, TX, seminary trustees approved the election of Dr. Sheri Klouda as a tenure-track professor to teach biblical languages in the seminary’s theology school. Dr. Klouda is a graduate of the Criswell College in Dallas, TX, holding both the B.A. and the M.A. with honors. She received her Ph.D. in Old Testament from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary later that Spring. I have attached to this letter Dr. Klouda’s Curriculum Vitae as Appendix A.
- Dr. Klouda was elected with the status of assistant professor.The Policy Manual of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Section VII, page 30, defines an assistant professor as “a teacher who holds a doctor’s degree or its equivalent in professional experience in the field of instruction and who has shown evidence of special ability as a teacher and scholar.” I have attached to this letter the entirety of Section VII as Appendix B.
- As a tenure-track professor in the school of theology, Dr. Klouda was guaranteed a clearly-defined process of tenure review. Section Ten of the seminary’s Policy Manual defines the process of tenure review, which I have attached to this letter as Appendix C.
- All pronominal language in the Policy Manual is careful to reflect the gender diversity of faculty status and the equity of tenure review for both male and female professors at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.
- The Policy Manual makes no gender distinction between the various schools of music, evangelism, theology, and educational ministries relevant to the selection of tenure-track faculty.
- Dr. Sheri Klouda, subsequent to her election as a tenure-track assistant professor, was informed by the seminary administration that she would be ineligible for tenure review because of her gender. I have attached as Appendix D several news articles substantiating this claim, including statement from both Dr. Klouda and the trustee chairman, Dr. Van McClain.
- Considerable evidence exists that Dr. Sheri Klouda was denied the process of tenure review outlined in the Policy Manual, and that she was denied the process on the basis of unenumerated criteria and gender bias, which constitutes a violation of the tenure policy guidelines adopted by the seminary trustees and governing the institution.
I am available to you should you require further information to substantiate an accreditation review of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, an institution which has already, in the recent past, faced investigations and citations for its failure to meet accreditation guidelines as required by the Association of Theological Schools.
Should you feel the necessity to recuse yourself from this investigation on account of potential conflicts of interest due to your service at Southwestern’s sister seminary and the fact that your seminary president is the brother-in-law of Southwestern’s president, I will fully understand.
Thank you for your diligence. The solvency of accrediting agencies such as the Association of Theological Schools is further assured by your expedience and thoroughness in this matter.
CC: Susan E. Davies
Bangor Theological Seminary
Vancouver School of Theology
Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia
Anne T. Anderson
University of St. Michael’s College
David E. Draper
Winebrenner Theological Seminary
Catholic Theological Union
Mark R. Ramseth
Trinity Lutheran Seminary
Mary Ann Donovan
Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley
McCormick Theological Seminary
Palmer Theological Seminary
Carey Theological College
Pastor, First United Methodist Church
Des Moines, IA
Overseas Council Canada
Hillary Gaston Sr.
Philadelphia Baptist Association