R. Albert Mohler Jr. named three young scholars to key academic leadership positions during his address in the plenary session of the spring meeting of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary Board of Trustees, April 15. Mohler announced Matthew J. Hall as provost and senior vice president of academic administration, Paul Akin as dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry, and Dustin Bruce as the dean of Boyce College.
Hall’s appointment is effective immediately. Akin and Bruce each begin June 1.
“This is a great and historic moment for Southern Seminary and Boyce College,” said Mohler, who is president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Boyce College. “We have the great opportunity to celebrate a generational transition in the leadership of the seminary that points to the future. One of my determinations is to make certain that this institution has the very best leadership at every moment in order to assure faithfulness, excellence, and continuity in the great work that we have been assigned. I have tremendous confidence in this new team.”
The role of provost continues the work Hall has been doing for the better part of the last decade. Since 2016, Hall, 39, has served as dean of Boyce College. During his tenure, the college reached multiple enrollment records, including topping 1,000 students in total headcount for the first time ever. He has been a part of the senior leadership team, made up of senior vice presidents, since 2017, when he began leading academic strategy for Southern Seminary. He also previously served as vice president of academic services and as chief of staff in the Office of the President.
Hall is a two-time alumnus of Southern Seminary (M.Div. and Th.M.) and earned master’s and doctor of philosophy degrees in American history from the University of Kentucky.
“It has been one of my great joys to work with Matt Hall over the course of the last several years,” Mohler said. “He is one of the most outstanding young leaders in the evangelical world and he is both a scholar and a skilled administrator. He is a man of great character and deep conviction and he is already fully equipped to take on full responsibility as provost of this institution. He will bring remarkable strength and ability to this task.”
Hall will also serve as an assistant professor of church history. He is an elder at Clifton Baptist Church in Louisville, Kentucky, and a research fellow for the SBC’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. He is also co-editor of the 2015 book, Essential Evangelicalism: The Enduring Legacy of Carl F.H. Henry.
“I am profoundly grateful to Dr. Mohler for the privilege to serve at Southern Seminary and Boyce College, including in this new capacity as provost,” Hall said in comments ahead of the public announcement. “I am, in every sense, a proud son of Southern Seminary and filled with gratitude for the extraordinary students, faculty, and staff that make this institution so special. We bear a sacred trust from the churches of the Southern Baptist Convention to teach and shape a generation of pastors, missionaries, and ministers for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ among the nations. I am delighted and humbled at this opportunity.”
As the dean of the Graham School, Akin, 35, is poised to take the next step in a career already defined by missions and missions mobilization. Most recently, Akin served as team leader for new missionary sending at the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. He has lived and worked among Muslims in Africa and the Middle East, trained missionaries in the local church and seminary contexts, and served alongside missionary teams in more than 40 countries.
“I’m very excited about the appointment of Paul Akin as the dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism and Ministry,” Mohler said. “Paul is already a skilled missiologist and he combines the experience of being a missionary on the field with strategic leadership at the International Mission Board over the last several years.
“I have known Paul Akin for most of his lifetime and have seen God shape and mold him to be ready to take this kind of responsibility. He is a great young leader among Southern Baptists and I’m excited about what he will bring to the Graham school as its new dean. I’m particularly pleased with the emphasis upon missions which he represents and to which he has committed his life,” Mohler added.
Akin earned both M.Div. and Ph.D. degrees from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, where his father, Danny Akin, is president.
“To be entrusted to carry on the legacy of Dr. Graham and his passion for global mission is a special privilege and responsibility,” Akin said. “I believe the Graham School has the potential to be a leading voice for the cause of the Great Commission in the 21st century. I am eager to serve in this capacity and excited for the opportunity.”
A native of Dallas, Akin is married to Kari, with whom he has four children. He says he hopes a Great Commission fervor is obvious among the students of the Billy Graham school during his time as dean. He will serve the school additionally as an assistant professor of Christian missions.
Said Hall, “I look forward to working with Dr. Paul Akin and have the highest of hopes for what his leadership will mean for the Billy Graham School, and for Southern Seminary at large. He is a man with a proven passion for and commitment to the Great Commission, a keen thinker and scholar, and a committed Southern Baptist.”
Bruce, 32, returns to Boyce College with distinct experience combining teaching and administrative leadership. Starting in 2018, Bruce was associate vice president for spiritual formation and assistant professor of Christian studies at the University of Mobile.
“I believe that Dustin Bruce is God’s man to lead Boyce College in its next era of growth and expansion and service to the cause of Christ,” Mohler said. “He will bring tremendous leadership into building the faculty and the student body at Boyce College. He is already a skilled teacher and administrator. He is a known quantity at Southern Seminary, and I know that Boyce students and their parents will find great confidence in him and the faculty will find him a skilled and committed leader. He brings a clear vision for the future of Boyce College and I’m excited to see what the Lord is going to do in the years ahead.”
Bruce earned both Th.M. and Ph.D. degrees from Southern Seminary and an M.Div. degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. From 2014-2018, Bruce served as an adjunct instructor at Boyce College and held several administrative roles at Southern Seminary, from Global Campus to the provost’s office. Bruce is currently co-editing a volume on the Holy Spirit in a critical edition of John Owen’s writings. He is also a fellow of the Andrew Fuller Center for Baptist Studies.
Bruce was born and raised in Monroeville, Alabama. He is married to Whitney and they have two daughters. A committed Southern Baptist, Bruce has served on staff at churches in Texas and Kentucky.
“I couldn’t be more excited to return home to Boyce College and Southern Seminary,” Bruce said. “Boyce College has proved itself to be one of the most faithful institutions offering a truly Christian undergraduate education. I’m honored to join such a committed faculty and staff in the work of equipping thousands of students to fulfill their calling in ministry and the marketplace. There is a community and culture around Boyce College that is different from most places, and in a world in which the ‘average’ college student feels lonely and isolated, Boyce works to create the robust biblical community students thrive in.”
In addition to serving as dean, Bruce will be an assistant professor of Christian theology and church history.
Hall, who is the most recent dean of Boyce, emphasized Bruce’s “unique gifting” to assume the leadership of seminary’s undergraduate school.
“I know firsthand what an exceptional place Boyce College is within the world of Christian higher education,” Hall said. “Our students are some of the most remarkable young men and women imaginable and are taught by an exceptional faculty who are models of faithfulness in their lives and scholarship. Dr. Bruce is uniquely gifted to lead the college into the future. He is a gifted leader, a proven churchman, and a faithful servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Mohler noted his excitement that Hall, Akin, and Bruce each come to the seminary not only with professional qualifications but also with families who will contribute to the vitality of the campus culture.
“One of the gifts of God to Southern Seminary in this set of announcements is the fact that each of these men comes with a wife totally committed to the gospel and to service in the Lord’s name, and they come with wonderful, thriving families that show the glory of God and the joy of living out their lives together,” Mohler said. “To be honest, I’m really glad, not only for the appointment of these three key academic leaders, but for the fact that they and their precious families are going to be a central part of the Southern Seminary family.”
This announcement comes on the first day of the week’s meetings of the Southern Seminary Board of Trustees, which convenes twice a year. More news from the week’s spring plenary session will follow in the coming days.