ANAHEIM, Calif. — Leaders at Southern Seminary didn’t have to look far to find the school’s new provost. Seminary president Albert Mohler announced Wednesday at the school’s annual luncheon at the SBC annual meeting in Anaheim, Calif., that Graham School dean Paul Akin had been named provost and Senior Vice President of Academic Administration.
Mohler said seminary leaders widely sought the position, but it became clear that the best candidate was already part of the SBTS family. Akin has served as dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions, Evangelism, and Ministry since 2019.
Current provost and senior vice president for academic administration, Matt Hall, was recently elected provost of Biola University, an evangelical school located a few miles from the site of the SBC’s 2022 annual meeting.
“The affirmation of Paul Akin’s ability in this role was just overwhelming and I can see why,” Mohler said.
Referring to the seminary’s historic anthem, “Soldiers of Christ in Truth Arrayed,” Mohler said, “I very much look forward to working with Paul in this new role. He and his wife, Kari, are a wonderful gift to Southern Seminary. As we meet to part and meet, parting and meeting are both very special, so it gives me great joy to make this announcement.
Akin was 12 when he first came to Southern Seminary, his father, Danny Akin, having been elected Dean of the School of Theology and Senior Vice President of University Administration. That was in 1996. Akin went into ministry as a young man and earned both his MDiv and doctorate from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, where his father is president.
Today, Danny Akin and Paul Akin become the first father and son to serve in the same leadership position at Southern Seminary, spanning two generations of Southern Baptist life.
“It’s a bit surreal,” said Paul Akin. “I have seen what the Lord has done in Southern over the past 30 years. It was fun for me to have a front row seat and also to watch from afar what the Lord was doing.
Akin brings extensive mission experience to his new role.
After seminary, Akin served for many years in the mission field, working among Muslims in Africa and the Middle East, training missionaries in local church and seminary settings. In total, Akin has served alongside mission teams in 40 countries. He later served as team leader for sending new missionaries with the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
When Mohler approached him about the new role, Akin said he immediately sought advice from his father, who held a similar position at Southern for many years in the 1990s and early 2000s.
“Any time you step into a role like this, you feel inadequate,” Akin said. “You don’t feel like you belong. One of the first things I did when I had this conversation with Dr. Mohler was call my dad and ask for his wisdom, insight, and advice. He was very encouraging. He said to me, “Paul, if the faculty thinks you can play this role, then I think you can.
“Dr. Mohler was also very encouraging, saying that I had been mentioned by several faculty members. I just trust the Lord, I take it day by day, I trust that the Lord is the one who equips us and gives us the strength we need to perform these kinds of roles.
For the time being, Akin will also remain dean of the Graham School until a successor can be found, likely by the fall, Mohler said. Akin and his wife, Kari, originally from Louisville, have four children.
Mohler stressed the importance of selecting the right candidate for this vital role at the seminary.
“This role is so important to Southern Seminary and beyond,” Mohler said. “Academics are at the heart of our action. The credibility of our academic program, the strength of our faculty, the fidelity of the program, what happens in the classroom is of crucial importance. This role is so vital. I look forward to Paul Akin taking on this new role.