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Southwest Announces Election of Dr. Scott Bader-Saye as Ninth Dean and President

Dr. Scott Bader-Saye unanimously elected by Board of Trustees to lead one of the most prominent and innovative Episcopal seminaries into its next chapter.

Seminary of the Southwest announces that the Southwest Board of Trustees has unanimously elected and called Dr. Scott Bader-Saye to be the Ninth Dean and President of Seminary of the Southwest. Dr. Bader-Saye will begin in this role on July 1, 2024.

Dr. Scott Bader-Saye, dean and president-elect

“Seminary of the Southwest is a remarkable community of learning and formation, and it is an honor to be selected as the next dean and president,” said Dean and President-elect Bader-Saye. “Every day I am grateful to work alongside the amazing faculty and staff of this institution. Over the last ten years we have reimagined our MDiv curriculum, built an award-winning CACREP-accredited counseling program, and assembled a faculty of dedicated teachers and creative scholars who are committed to the work of building beloved community in this place. To be invited to lead this institution is a great joy. I have no doubt that we will continue the significant momentum that the seminary has built in recent years, and I look forward to navigating the opportunities and challenges that will come our way. I am grateful to the board of trustees for entrusting me with the work of guiding Southwest into the next chapter of its already rich and notable history.”

“In an open and competitive search including other leaders in theological education, Dr. Scott Bader-Saye rose to the top because of his proven leadership in a number of essential areas: nurturing and supporting beloved community and a culture of belonging; advancement and fund development; and visioning and strategic planning that extends to all areas of our seminary,” said the Rt. Rev. Kathryn M. Ryan, Chair of the Southwest Board of Trustees and Bishop Suffragan of the diocese of Texas. “Having known him primarily as an excellent and deeply regarded academic dean, and further as an outstanding professor and scholar, the search committee and board were convicted by his demonstration of these additional skills and experience. We are grateful for every candidate who participated in this search and were delighted to find our new dean and president right here among us.”

“I am thrilled and excited about the appointment of Dr. Scott Bader-Saye as the next dean and president of our Seminary of The Southwest,” said the Rt. Rev. C. Andrew Doyle, IX Bishop of Texas. “The Episcopal Church is at a pivotal point in the formation of the baptized and clergy, and we see this in the current unrest around the future of seminaries and their work. Seminary of the Southwest has astutely seized this moment to create opportunities. Southwest is well-positioned for the future, a testament to the leadership of our previous deans and chairs. I am deeply grateful to the search committee and board, who have unanimously selected Dr. Bader-Saye as the perfect leader for the next mission age for the church.”

Dr. Scott Bader-Saye preaching at Matriculation in 2019

Dr. Bader-Saye’s election follows a search led by search committee Co-chairs, the Rev. Lisa Mason, Rector, St. John’s Episcopal, Larchmont, New York, and the Honorable Lora Livingston, Lay Member, St. James Episcopal Church, Austin, Texas. The committee was composed of members of the Board of Trustees, alumni, friends of Southwest, faculty, and members of the administration.

“We are very excited about our next dean and president,” said Mason and Livingston. “Seminary of the Southwest was blessed with many well-qualified applicants for this extremely important position. Dr. Scott Bader-Saye exemplifies and surpasses all of the qualifications for the next dean and president of Seminary of the Southwest. His experience as academic dean, as well as serving as acting dean and president during the current dean and president’s sabbatical is exemplary. He is committed to residential seminary education, to the formation of ministers in the Iona Collaborative, to the educational advancement of religious scholars, and to the development of well-equipped clinical mental health counselors. He is respected by his colleagues at the seminary and throughout the academy. His scholarship is proven, and he has demonstrated an abiding commitment to academic excellence. His discernment and preparation for this position demonstrate his deep love of the seminary and his commitment to its work in the formation of all its students.”

Dr. Bader-Saye joined the faculty of Seminary of the Southwest as the Helen and Everett H. Jones Chair in Christian Ethics and Moral Theology in 2009 and has served as academic dean since 2013. He enters the role of Dean and President after Southwest’s Eighth Dean and President, the Very Rev. Cynthia Briggs Kittredge concludes her term on June 30, 2024, a decision she announced in October, 2023.

As academic dean for the past 11 years, Dr. Bader-Saye led the faculty and student community through significant periods of transformational growth and a rise in prominence in the academic and pedagogical impacts of Seminary of the Southwest. He was instrumental in the development and growth of Southwest’s popular Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and in guiding the faculty through the necessary curricular partnership required with the implementation of Southwest’s now highly successful Iona Collaborative. He also led the faculty through the innovative and timely revisions to the seminary’s Master of Divinity curriculum. Dr. Bader-Saye’s leadership as academic dean was also critical to Southwest navigating the covid-19 pandemic. He led the faculty through a complete reinvention of the delivery method and formational style which had been – and remains still – focused greatly on the in-person experience of community to form future priests, counselors, and lay leaders.

His impact on Southwest’s commitment to Beloved Community has been tangible: of Southwest’s current 18 faculty members, he has chaired and organized the searches for 13 of them. Of those 13 faculty members, nine are women, eight identify as
people of color, and three identify as LGBTQ. He also was responsible for the day-to-day work to implement the highly successful partnership with the Black Religious Schoalars Group that that brought a Black visiting biblical scholar as a professor to campus each year for five straight years.

“Seminaries need deans who are aware of the challenges in the local congregations, understand the people of the church, have been involved in discussions across the diocese, understand the work of racial justice, and support local dioceses and congregations in convening meaningful conversations in and outside the church,” added Bishop Doyle.  “The life of Episcopal seminaries now must deal with the formation of the baptized for a mission and ministry challenged by internal and external pressures. As does the board, I believe Dr. Bader-Saye is the correct dean for Seminary of the Southwest and the Diocese of Texas. We are eager to celebrate his new ministry.”

Prior to coming to the seminary, Dr. Bader-Saye taught for twelve years in the religion department at the University of Scranton, a Jesuit university in Scranton, PA. He is the author of Following Jesus in a Culture of Fear, Formed by Love, and Church and Israel After Christendom. He has contributed chapters to the Routledge Companion to Christian Ethics, The Blackwell Companion to Christian Ethics, and The Cambridge Companion to the Gospels, and he has published widely in theological journals and magazines. His current research and writing focus on the theology and ethics of transgender identity. Other research interests include politics and culture, ecology, economy, and interfaith dialogue. He holds a Ph.D. from Duke University (1997), an M.Div. from Yale Divinity School (1991), and a B.A. from Davidson College (1987). He is an active lay leader in the church, having served as Theologian-in-Residence at St. Julian of Norwich Episcopal Church in Austin, and, prior to coming to the seminary, having co-founded and led Peacemeal, a missional Episcopal community in the Diocese of Bethlehem. He has served on various church-wide and diocesan bodies, including the Economic Justice Loan Committee of the Episcopal Church, the Peace and Justice Task Force and the Unity in Mission Task Force of the Diocese of Texas, and the board of directors for Gathering of Leaders. He speaks widely in churches and dioceses across the country. He just completed three years of service on the editorial board of the Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics. Dr. Bader-Saye’s wife, the Rev. Demery Bader-Saye, is an instructional coach at NYOS Charter School and a part-time assisting priest at St. Julian of Norwich in Austin. Together they have three children, Elise, Eli, and Luke.

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