By Lacy Kendrick, BTSR
The BTSR presidential search committee has named the Reverend Doctor Linda McKinnish Bridges as the presidential candidate for Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond.
Upon approval by a vote of the BTSR Board of Trustees on March 21, McKinnish Bridges will succeed president Dr. Ron Crawford, effective July 1, 2017. Crawford is retiring after a decade of service to BTSR. Crawford says he is “very excited” about McKinnish Bridges returning to BTSR to serve as the next president. “Dr. Bridges’ disposition, training and experience uniquely qualify her for this position,” says Crawford. “She is known and loved in the larger BTSR community, and will lead the school well in the coming years.”
McKinnish Bridges was selected after a comprehensive nationwide search led by a BTSR committee consisting of trustees, faculty and staff, with assistance from AGB Search. McKinnish Bridges will serve as the third president of BTSR, and comes to the seminary at the culmination of BTSR’s 25th anniversary.
Dr. Bert Browning, chair of the presidential search committee, says, “Rev. Dr. Linda McKinnish Bridges represents our heritage as one of the seminary’s original professors at its founding. She embodies our hope, as we look to her wise leadership for the challenging and promising days ahead. She joins us in the here and now to link our past and our future.”
Dr. Tracy Hartman, BTSR faculty member and member of the search committee, adds, “As a renowned scholar and respected business woman, Dr. Bridges is the ideal person to lead us into the future. She knows and loves BTSR, and she understands the challenges facing the church and theological education. BTSR will thrive under her innovative and visionary leadership.”
A native of Henderson County, NC, McKinnish Bridges brings a wealth of experience as a theological educator and academic administrator. She earned her bachelor’s degree in religion and education at Meredith College, a master of divinity (MDiv) and PhD in New Testament Studies and Greek from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a master of business administration (MBA) from Wake Forest University School of Business. Ordained to the Gospel ministry in 1990 by the Northminster Baptist Church in Richmond, McKinnish Bridges has fulfilled her calling in both church and classroom.
Dr. E. Bruce Heilman, former president of Meredith College and current chancellor of The University of Richmond, recalls, “Dr. Linda McKinnish Bridges, whom I know well, is a graduate of Meredith College where I served as president. She is distinguished in every respect. She has all the qualifications essential to fulfilling the challenging responsibilities of leading an institution of higher learning. Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond will continue to flourish under her strong leadership and reputation.”
McKinnish Bridges, who served as the founding professor of Biblical Interpretation, Ancient Greek and New Testament Interpretation at BTSR from 1991 to 2001, looks forward to her return to the seminary. “I believe in the power of education to transform individuals, communities, and even nations. With thanksgiving for the faculty, administration, students, and trustees of BTSR who have created this vibrant community of learning for these 25 years, I am delighted to return to Richmond and help guide us into the next chapter,” says McKinnish Bridges.
In addition to her experience as a founding faculty member, McKinnish Bridges brings student recruitment, business management and fundraising expertise to BTSR. She currently serves as Managing Director of The International University Alliance, Shorelight Education, a company seeking to help international students and US universities reach their international education goals in a highly competitive global environment.
Dr. Basil Cleveland, Executive Vice President and co-founder of Shorelight Education, says, “It has been our distinct privilege to work with Dr. McKinnish Bridges for the last several years. My team in particular has benefitted from her thoughtful approach to developing and negotiating complex academic partnerships. She brought generosity, warmth, and curiosity to the negotiating table, which inspired trust. She brought humility and other-care to her coworkers, which inspired admiration. We are thrilled that she has chosen to pursue this leadership opportunity at Baptist Theological Seminary, and grateful for the time we spent together.”
McKinnish Bridges also served in many roles of leadership at Wake Forest University from 2001-2014. As Associate Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences she led the University in student academic advising, diversity initiatives, and departmental leadership. As a faculty member and administrator in the School of Divinity, she worked to create joint degree programs with the WFU School of Medicine and the School of Law. With ability to speak Mandarin Chinese fluently, she helped develop and implement the first international enrollment strategy for Wake Forest University, focusing student recruitment primarily in China.
Dr. Lynn Sutton, vice provost of Wake Forest University, says, “Linda McKinnish Bridges is a visionary leader in the field of higher education. She is the ideal person to advance the good work of the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond.”
Rev. Dr. Linda McKinnish Bridges will transition to her new role in Spring 2017, and will officially begin as president of BTSR on July 1, 2017.