The vision to provide trained ministers of the Gospel for America's western frontiers was held by B. H. Carroll for many years. His dream saw its fruition in the establishment of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary more than 100 years ago.
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary was an outgrowth of the theological department, which had been established in 1901 at Baylor University, Waco, Texas. In 1905, the department became Baylor Theological Seminary with five professors on the teaching staff.
The Baptist General Convention of Texas authorized the separation of the seminary from Baylor University in 1907. At that time the seminary was given a new name, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a separate board of trustees.
The seminary was chartered on March 14, 1908, and functioned on the Waco campus until the summer of 1910. Several Texas cities made strong bids for the new institution. The seminary accepted the offer made by Fort Worth citizens under the leadership of Mr. and Mrs. J. K. Winston. A campus site and enough funds to build the first building were provided. The first building was named Fort Worth Hall in honor of its new location. In 1925, control of the seminary passed from the Texas convention to the Southern Baptist Convention.
From the beginning, the major thrust of the seminary has been to provide theological training for "preachers of the Gospel." Today its graduates serve in numerous Christian ministries in local churches and the denomination as well as on mission fields around the world. From its inception Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary has sought to link research and academic achievement with expository preaching and a vigorous program of missions and evangelism.
In 1915, two departments were created to complement the School of Theology: the departments of religious education headed by J. M. Price, and gospel music headed by I. E. Reynolds. Six years later in 1921, these departments became full-fledged schools. The School of Gospel Music became the School of Sacred Music in 1926 and underwent another title change in 1957 when the present School of Church Music name was adopted. The School of Religious Education was renamed the School of Educational Ministries in 1997 and received a new name again in 2009 when it became the Jack D. Terry School of Church and Family Ministries.
The early twenty-first century has witnessed a further expansion of the seminary's educational program as three new schools have been established. In 2004, the Houston extension campus became a full degree granting site and was named the J. Dalton Havard School for Theological Studies. In 2005, the division of evangelism and missions in the School of Theology was reorganized as the Roy J. Fish School of Evangelism and Missions. Also, that same year, the trustees approved the founding of the seminary's first undergraduate institution, Scarborough College.
The seminary has had eight presidents. B. H. Carroll, the first president, served from the embryonic stages of the school until his death in November 1914.
L. R. Scarborough, was elected president in February 1915, retired in 1942 and was followed by E. D. Head.
E. D. Head, who served until his retirement in 1953.
J. Howard Williams became president in August 1953 and served until his death in April 1958.
Robert E. Naylor became the fifth president on September 1, 1958. He retired July 31, 1978, and was named president emeritus until his death in February 1999.
Russell H. Dilday was elected sixth president of Southwestern Seminary by the board of trustees on November 22, 1977. He served as president from August 1978 until March 1994.
Kenneth S. Hemphill became the seventh president on July 28, 1994, by a vote of the board of trustees. He served as president from July 1994 until July 2003.
L. Paige Patterson was elected as the eighth president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary on June 24, 2003, by a vote of the board of trustees. He served as president from June 2003 until May 2018.