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The Theodore J. Wardlaw Presidential Endowment

President Ted Wardlaw has announced his plans to retire in 2022. He is leaving  Austin Seminary in excellent condition, but the landscape of the church and higher education in North America is shifting. A new generation of students are entering seminary with a new set of expectations. Educational delivery systems are being tested, and more funds are needed to support students. Today, and in the future, the Board of Trustees will be challenged to recruit at the very highest level for this vital position. As was the case when Ted was recruited, the next president of Austin Seminary must be faithful, scholarly, visionary, a recognized leader in the church, an expert administrator, and an adept fundraiser. Endowing the presidency is a powerful way of ensuring that, throughout the life of the institution, sufficient funding will be available to attract the very strongest candidates and call the very strongest leader.  The Theodore J. Wardlaw Presidential Endowment is a strong demonstration of the importance of the presidency and the value of Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary as a school committed, well into the future, to the education of Christian leaders.

The Theodore J. Wardlaw Presidential Endowment recognizes Ted’s unique gifts and memorializes, in perpetuity, his leadership and tremendous contributions as president of Austin Seminary during the first quarter of the 21st century.

An Expanded Mission

Ted Wardlaw has led Austin Seminary with integrity, creativity, and with a heart for the church. Consistently true to the mission of educating individuals for the ordained Christian ministry and leadership, he has held to his conviction that healthy pastors make for healthy congregations. This has led to more robust academic offerings and programming during his tenure with the Seminary. Under his leadership, Austin Seminary established three new master’s degrees, three certificate programs including a Certificado en Ministerio which is taught in Spanish, and a dual degree in collaboration with The University of Texas at Austin Steve Hicks School of Social Work. Committed to graduates called to the pastorate, Ted’s vision of an Austin Seminary Post-Graduate Residency Program, designed to provide graduates with a two-year experience in a time-tested congregation under the mentorship of a “best practices” head-of-staff, is now a reality. During his presidency, the College of Pastoral Leaders was endowed, and Education  Beyond the Walls offered seminars, workshops, and other educational experiences to up to 1,000 pastors and practicioners annually.

Putting Students First

Over the years, students called to seminary have faced increased undergraduate educational debt. Recognizing how heavy educational debt hinders pastors accepting calls where they are needed, President Wardlaw set out to address the need. His leadership in this area led to the establishment of nine endowed merit-based full-ride student fellowships, four endowed merit-based scholarships and additional endowed need-based tuition assistance scholarships, all of which ensure that Austin Seminary graduates are able to serve the church with substance and passion and without the burden of heavy additional educational debt.

To more deeply reflect the beautiful tapestry that is the Kingdom of God, during his tenure, President Wardlaw has endeavored to make Austin Seminary a more diverse, equitable, inclusive, welcoming, and winsome place for all. Early on in his term, President Wardlaw established an institutional Diversity Commission. More recently, the community gathered for Days of Memory and Hope in which former students, faculty, and staff of color told of their experiences at Austin Seminary. Under his leadership, the Ethel Lance Memorial Circle, dedicated to the nine lives lost in the 2015 Charleston church massacre, was erected, and De Puertas Abiertas Fellowships were established with a program offering 100% tuition grants for all students of color.

A Vision For the Future

Ted Wardlaw’s imprint on the Austin Seminary campus is obvious. He is responsible for the building of a new generation of student housing and the transformation of the Seminary’s historic library into a 21st-century learning and information center. Under his leadership, an old apartment building was converted into intentional living space for Presbyterian Young Adult Volunteers and Americorps volunteers; regular classrooms were converted to smart classrooms and a liturgics lab was added.

Ted’s many accomplishments at Austin Seminary could not have been done without the support of generous friends and supporters of the institution. Ted is relational and sensitive to the alumni, community, and broader constituency that is Austin Seminary. His tremendous vision, coupled with his connectional nature, has resulted in the successful completion of two campaigns. During his twenty years of leadership at Austin Seminary, despite the great recession, the challenges facing the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and a global pandemic, nearly $100 million was raised and the Seminary’s endowment grew by more than sixty percent.