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Eric Turner is stepping down after two years as SBU’s president.
SBJ file photo
Eric Turner is stepping down after two years as SBU’s president.

SBU president submits resignation

Posted online

Southwest Baptist University President Eric Turner is resigning after two years holding the position.

Turner submitted his resignation to the SBU Board of Trustees during its Oct. 20 meeting, according to the release. His resignation becomes effective Nov. 20, when the semester ends.

“As the university and Missouri Baptist Convention rearticulate their long-standing relationship, I think it is vital for the two entities to have a fresh start with a new leader at the helm," Turner said in the release.

Charlotte Marsch said Turner's comments about the Missouri Baptist Convention refer to the university's updated articles of incorporation and bylaws. SBU is a Missouri Baptist Convention entity.

"The Missouri Baptist Convention has asked all entities to update these documents, and our trustees have spent the past few years working through the updates with the convention," Marsch said via email. "Those documents are now finalized."

A Baptist News Global report pointed to disagreements on fundamentalism between SBU and the Missouri Baptist Convention, specifically citing interference in faculty decisions.

At SBU, Turner is slated to be succeeded by acting President Brad Johnson, the university's vice president of institutional advancement. The SBU board is developing a search process for a permanent successor, according to the release.

“We asked Dr. Turner to stay through Nov. 20 to facilitate a smooth transition and are thankful for Dr. Johnson’s willingness to step into the acting role,” said Ryan Palmer, outgoing chair of the SBU Board of Trustees, in the release. “We are confident his familiar face and vast experience in Baptist higher education will serve the university well at this time.”

Turner became SBU's president in 2018, when he succeeded the retiring C. Pat Taylor. Turner came to SBU from Black River Technical College in Pocahontas, Arkansas, where he was president.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic this summer, Turner led an expense-reduction plan that called on $3.2 million in cuts during the next two academic years, according to past reporting.

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