Prominent Baptist leader dies

6 Feb

cortsThomas Corts, former president of the Baptist-affiliated Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama, in the United States, died suddenly on Wednesday, February 4. Corts was actively involved within the Baptist World Alliance since 1985. At the time of his death, he was a member of the BWA General Council, vice chair of the Commission on Baptist Heritage and Identity, and a member of the Study and Research Executive Committee and the Academic and Theological Education Workgroup. In remembering Corts, BWA President David Coffey said, “Tom was a great ambassador for the Baptist movement worldwide and a mentor to us all with his outstanding gifts of grace and wisdom.” Coffey stated that Corts “was a faithful friend and advocate of the Baptist World Alliance and we remember with appreciation how he served us with great distinction on numerous occasions.” Thomas Corts (far left) in 2007 with (from left to right) Timothy George, Dean of Beeson Divinity School, Neville Callam, BWA General Secretary, and Andrew Westmoreland, President of Samford University BWA General Secretary Neville Callam, in recalling his visit to the Beeson Divinity School at Samford University in September 2007, described Corts as “a distinguished Baptist leader and an outstanding educator” who was “a most humble and gracious host.” “Corts was a perceptive commentator on the church’s responsibility to nurture her young for Christian discipleship in both the private and public spheres,” said Callam. “We offer condolences to his wife, Marla, and their entire family.” Corts was president of Samford from 1983 until his retirement from that position in 2006, whereupon he was named president emeritus. The school had several noted achievements during Corts’ tenure. Among the highlights were the purchase of Samford’s London Study Centre, significant growth in the school’s endowment, construction of more than 30 campus buildings, and an increase in student enrollment. He was a former chairman of the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). He also served as president of SACS, the American Association of Presidents of Independent Colleges and Universities, and the Association of Baptist Colleges. After his retirement, Corts served as executive director of the International Association of Baptist Colleges and Universities, which represents 52 Baptist higher learning institutions. In 2007, he was appointed by former US President George W. Bush to coordinate US international education aid. A public memorial service is scheduled for Sunday, February 8, in the Leslie Stephen Wright Center Concert Hall on the Samford campus. Corts leaves his wife of 44 years, Marla, two daughters, and one son. He was 67 years old.

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