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 it became the School of Church Music. In 2019, the name was modified to the School of Church Music and Worship. The School of Religious Education was renamed the School of Educational Ministries in 1997. In 2009, the school was renamed for Jack D. Terry Jr., and is now known as the Jack D. Terry Jr. School of Educational Ministries.
In 2003, the seminary established the J. Dalton Havard Center for Theological Studies on the campus of Park Place Baptist Church in Houston, Texas. The Houston extension program was founded in 1975 and became a degree-granting site in 2004. Accordingly, seminary trustees named the Havard School the fourth school of Southwestern Seminary. In 2005, seminary trustees established the seminary's fifth and sixth schools, the Roy J. Fish School of Evangelism and Missions and the seminary's undergraduate school, Scarborough College. In August 2016, Southwestern Seminary began its seventh school, the School of Preaching.
The seminary has had nine 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 on June 24, 2003. He served as president from June 2003 until May 2018.
Adam W. Greenway became the ninth president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary on February 27, 2019.