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Tenure refused for woman professor at Southwestern

 

Richard D. McCormack/BP

In this 2002 file photo, her peers look on as newly elected Southwestern faculty member Sheri Klouda symbolically signs in support of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. Ironically, seminary leaders have cited adherence to the 2000 BF&M as reasons for denying Klouda tenure in 2004.

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) — A woman who had held a tenure-track position was denied tenure at Southwestern Seminary in 2004, according to a Jan. 19 Dallas Morning News story.

The professor, Sheri Klouda, was given a tenure-track position to teach Hebrew in Southwestern’s school of theology when she received her Ph.D. at the Fort Worth, Texas, campus in 2002, according to the newspaper report.

Klouda, who also is a Criswell College graduate, now teaches at Taylor University in Indiana.

Van McClain, chairman of Southwestern’s board of trustees, told the Dallas Morning News that the seminary has returned to its “traditional, confessional, and biblical position” that a woman should not instruct men in theology courses or in biblical languages.

McClain said the seminary was gracious to Klouda as she looked for a teaching position at another school. “The administration ... allowed her to teach a full two years after she was told that she would not have tenure,” McClain told the newspaper, “... and the seminary even agreed to continue her support after her teaching responsibilities were over, so her family would have financial support. The seminary went far beyond anything that could be expressed as its duty or responsibility.”

Seminary President Paige Patterson declined comment on the issue, the newspaper said.

Klouda, contacted by the newspaper, said, “I don’t think it was right to hire me to do this job, to put me in the position where I, in good faith, assumed that I was working toward tenure, and then suddenly remove me without any cause other than gender.”

When Klouda was hired for the tenure-track position in 2002, Ken Hemphill was the seminary’s president. At that time, “There was not a policy where [women] would not be able to teach church history or the [biblical] languages,” Hemphill told the newspaper. Hemphill resigned as Southwestern’s president in 2003 and Patterson was selected by the trustees as his successor.

The newspaper noted that Patterson’s wife, Dorothy, continues to teach in Southwestern’s school of theology, with McClain explaining that she teaches courses in women’s studies that are attended only by women.