BRANSON – Despite being “disappointed” with this year’s nominating committee process, Southwest Baptist University (SBU) leaders chose not to dispute a slate of new SBU trustee nominees presented to Missouri Baptist messengers at their annual meeting here, Oct. 28-29.
“Last Wednesday (Oct. 23), we received information from the nominating committee that our entire proposed trustee slate was rejected,” SBU President Eric Turner said in his Oct. 29th report at the Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) annual meeting. “Since then, we worked with convention leadership to develop a compromise slate, and that slate was rejected. Candidly, I’m disappointed in the process.
“You may be expecting the University to fight this,” Turner added. “You might even say it’s foolish not to. But the story we’re shaping together will not, nor should it, be rooted in conflict. Rather, our story will be rooted in unity, collaboration and love.”
During a dialogue with MBC Executive Director John Yeats at their Oct. 22 board meeting, SBU trustees asked why the university had not been notified of nominees to be put forth at the MBC annual meeting the following week. According to an SBU press release, this lack of communication was “unprecedented,” and trustees hope to see improved communication in the future.
Since the MBC Executive Board has for many years prohibited any executive director from participating in the nominating committee process, Yeats said he wasn’t able to answer their question, adding that he also hadn’t received the slate of SBU’s trustee nominees. But he assured SBU trustees that efforts were being made to ensure better communication in the future. In fact, during the MBC Executive Board Meeting in Branson, Oct. 28, the Executive Board removed the prohibition, allowing Yeats to be involved in the nominating committee process for logistical support and for fostering healthy communication between the committee and MBC entities.
“Our entities are world-class and it is our duly-elected trustees that provide oversight of these great institutions. This is a sacred trust the Nominating Committee does not take lightly and is why each entity president is encouraged to recommend potential trustees for service and the executive director needs to be involved in bringing the participants together,” Yeats told The Pathway. “Trustee selection is the primary way the churches through their messengers express their perspective and assist the institution with its work in the context of Missouri Baptist life. I am grateful to the Executive Board members for giving me the freedom to assist with the process of communications and logistics starting right now and for the October 2020 report of the Nominating Committee.”
This year, the nominating committee received 115 profiles – including 36 for SBU – and filled a total of 70 slots on MBC trustee boards and commissions. The education sub-committee was tasked with filling five positions on SBU’s trustee board. This included three positions filled by trustees who were eligible for re-nomination: namely, Joe Brand, Jana Horner and Mark Rains, who was then serving as SBU’s trustee chairman.
SBU’s board of trustees hoped that Brand, Horner and Rains would once again be re-nominated. They also hoped to see the nomination of two other individuals, who were encouraged by SBU to submit profiles online. Instead, the nominating committee selected a different slate of SBU trustee nominees to present to MBC messengers.
Nominating committee chairman Ryan Kunce, pastor of First Baptist Church, Bethany, told The Pathway that the trustee nominees for all of the MBC’s universities were not presented to the full nominating committee for a vote until the week prior to the annual meeting. He added that the committee followed the protocol outlined in the committee’s rules and procedures, which can be accessed online at the MBC’s website here: https://mobaptist.org/executive-office/nominating/.
The nominating committee and SBU leaders were unable to come to terms, Oct. 28, regarding a compromise slate.
“The nominating committee felt its slate had the best candidates to help the university moving forward,” Kunce told The Pathway. “And we still felt that way after the compromise slate was presented.”
According to their rules and procedures, the nominating committee is not obligated to re-nominate trustees who are eligible to serve another term, although eligible trustees have often been re-nominated in previous years.
The full report of the nominating committee (See story, page 11) was overwhelmingly approved by messengers during the MBC annual meeting, Oct. 29.
According to Kunce, the committee did not select a nominee to replace Kyle Lee, whose Oct. 22 removal from the SBU board of trustees has been disputed by the MBC (See story above, page 3).
The nominating committee consists of 24 volunteer members from around the state, who are nominated each year by the MBC president, announced at the MBC annual meeting and voted on by messengers. The committee is tasked with selecting a slate of nominees to serve as trustees or commissioners at the MBC’s entities and commissions.
The chairman of the nominating committee chooses which members serve on each of the committee’s four sub-committees, which includes an education sub-committee that nominates trustees for the MBC’s three universities. The chairman also receives a list of open seats on each board of trustees, which he gives to the sub-committees. Then each sub-committee considers the profiles submitted by potential trustees.
After making its selection, the sub-committee then sends its slate to Carla Stegeman – administrative assistant for the MBC Executive Board – who forwards it to the full committee for an electronic vote. The full committee then meets at the MBC annual meeting to confirm this vote.