SWBTS enrollment slides (cont)…

My good friend Bart Barber has raised a valid point, upon which I would like to elaborate. In response to my earlier post comparing the Spring graduate totals of Dallas Seminary and Southwestern Seminary, Rev. Barber exposed the terrible flaw in my count. Southwestern Seminary, Barber contends, has both Fall and Spring graduation cycles, while Dallas Seminary only has Spring graduation.

Point conceded, Rev. Barber. It was improper for me to compare Southwestern Seminary’s graduation totals with a non-SBC seminary in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. I should have done more comparison between Southwestern during the final four years of Ken Hemphill’s administration, and the final first four years of Patterson’s. That might give our readers a better understanding of what’s going on at the Fort Worth school.

So without further ado, I give you the comparison:


2006-2007 Graduate headcount — 510
2005-2006 Graduate headcount — 542
2004-2005 Graduate headcount — 547
2003-2004 Graduate heacount — 574



2002-2003 Graduate headcount — 575
2001-2002 Graduate headcount — 704
2000-2001 Graduate headcount — 620
1999-2000 Graduate headcount — 665


Now, I will concede another point to be completely fair. Those students graduating from Southwestern Seminary during the first three years of Patterson’s presidency represent students who enrolled at the Fort Worth school when Ken Hemphill was still president. So it’s really unfair to suggest that Patterson is responsible for lower graduate totals during those years. He was, after all, laying the foundation for his climb to 6000 students. These things take time, and we shouldn’t look too hard at Patterson’s numbers during those early years of transition.

Likewise, we should note that the final four years of Hemphill’s graduate totals represent students who had, most likely, come to the school during his own administration. It takes a full-time student three years to complete the basic seminary degree. Many students take longer. With that in mind, we can still allow Patterson some leeway in graduate headcount numbers for his fourth year at Southwestern.

But just for the fun of it, let’s compare the total graduate headcounts for Hemphill’s and Patterson’s terms listed above. If my accounting is correct, Patterson has graduated an average of 543 students per year at Southwestern. During the same timeframe, Hemphill graduated an average of 641 students, or nearly 100 more students per year, on average, than has Patterson.

In other words, Patterson has seen a 16% drop in graduation totals since taking over at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. But if you compare Patterson’s lowest graduate headcount (this year) with his own highest (the first year he inherited from Ken Hemphill), he has lowered graduation totals by only 12%.

Now if you remove the 2003-2004 graduation cycle because it is, truly, a transition year, and if you take the highest graduate headcount in Hemphill’s last three years (704) and compare them with Patterson’s last three years (547), you see that Patterson’s best graduate headcount is 22% lower than Hemphill’s for the same time period. So we summarize:

Patterson’s best year is 22% lower than Hemphill’s.
Patterson’s average is 16% lower than Hemphill’s.
Patterson has graduated an avg of 100 fewer students per year than Hemphill.

I hope that cleared things up for you, Brother Bart.

6 thoughts on “SWBTS enrollment slides (cont)…

  1. Ben,

    A couple of other interesting numbers might be:
    1. Total Number enrolled
    2. Percent Graduated compared to Total Number Enrolled (i.e., 15% grads of 3,000 enrolled).

    Just a thought.


  2. Les:

    Those are good issues to raise. The seminary administration is closely guarding the enrollment and FTE numbers right now. Not even the trustees were given the FTE numbers, though enrollment has taken a hit, dropping from 3000 to 2700 in a year.

    I would encourage you to do what I’m going to do when I get to San Antonio. Get the Book of Reports, and look closely at the numbers for each seminary.

    And then show up for all the business sessions. I promise they won’t be boring.


  3. I attended SWBTS from 87-89, during Dilday’s tenure. When I enrolled in ’87, I believe there were 5,100 students, with abott 300 of those being on the Oklahoma, San Antonio and Houston campuses. At one point, I believe the enrollment did reach 5,000 on the Ft. Worth campus.

  4. You could also say that Hemphill went from 665 – 574 in 4 years…a difference of losing 90 students.

    Whereas, over the same time period, Patterson only lost a total of 64 (574-510)

    This would show that Hemphill’s slide was more steep then Patterson’s has been.

    I was a student at SWBTS during Hemphill’s last semester and I must say that I never heard one negative word about him among the student body, whereas, Patterson has received his fair share of negative words. With that said, I’m surprised the numbers are not lower.

  5. I do not know if one can really know anything from the numbers you posted. The decline in admission can be seen as starting with Hemphill and just continuing with Patterson. BTW before I go on, I was at the seminary during Hemphill’s tenure and was at it when he left. I liked him and still like him. But I can’t see how necessarily lower graduation numbers mean that the president is doing a bad job. Could it be that many of hte baptist colleges are very moderate and thus do not want anything to do with a very conservative seminary? Maybe so. I am no Patterson apologist but I feel that not much can be learned from the numbers you gave. Especially since the quality of the graduates is more important than the quanity. right?

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