Breaking down seminary retirement


When Robert Naylor retired from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary at age 69, there were more 4,000 students and the seminary was training approximately 20 percent of the entire M.Div. student population in the evangelical world.  He’d spent 20 years at the school, built a top-tier faculty, expanded the campus debt-free, and cultivated a strong reputation for the school and his administration.

People who knew Naylor knew he could be tough, and he was never given to prevarication. Even after retirement, he loomed large as a statesman in Southern Baptist life.  When the Baylor Board of Regents voted to self-perpetuate, Robert Naylor was called on to serve as chairman of the committee that sought peace.

His office wall had no dead animals. He had no conceal-and-carry permit and refused bodyguards. He never tried to “break a woman down,” and while he had various students and faculty criticize him through the years, his open-door policy was no pretense. People knew where they stood with Naylor. There was no hidden agenda.

When he took flack for building the president’s home on campus — then half the size it is now — he went to chapel and opened up for questions.  When he retired, his lawyers didn’t try to negotiate a severance package.

In fact, when Naylor retired, all the seminary gave him was a car, a trip to the Holy Land, and $10,000. In today’s money, that’s about $40,000.  His salary at the time would have been around $160,000 in 2018.

Oh, and there’s one more thing.

Dr. Naylor used to tell Southwestern students that they’d “be better dead” than if they brought dishonor to the seminary.

Bringing dishonor to the school sure seems to pay more than it used to.

Click here to listen to Dr. Naylor talk about retiring from Southwestern.

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