By Josh Owens, Director of Media and Marketing

Nashville, TN—Stephen Beck, principal of the Free Will Baptist Christian School in St. Croix, Virgin Islands, has been hired as a full-time faculty member in Teacher Education at Welch College, according to Provost Greg Ketteman.

Beck will assume the position this fall as Dr. Thurman Pate shifts to a part-time role, the beginning of a planned, phased retirement. Pate began serving the college in 1999 as chairman of the department of Teacher Education. “Dr. Pate’s wife’s healthcare needs are a primary consideration in the timing of this change,” Ketteman said. “Mrs. Ann Pate, who herself served 14 years as a faculty member in the TE department, and Dr. Pate have been such a blessing to the TE Department at Welch for a combined 30 years. Dr. Pate will continue to teach some courses and serve as mentor to Mr. Beck. He is excited about the future of the department and pleased to see Stephen in this position.”

“Stephen started out as an engineer.” said Ketteman. “While attending Vanderbilt University, where he received his B.S. in engineering with minors in math and computer science in 1997, he took Bible and missions courses at Welch, where he met his wife Rejyna.”

Beck, an ordained minister and the grandson of Welch’s founding president Dr. L. C. Johnson, served as an engineer for a defense contractor in Huntsville, AL, until sensing a calling to the school in the Virgin Islands, where he also served as associate pastor of the Free Will Baptist Church there. In that capacity, he was appointed an associate home missionary with Free Will Baptist North American Ministries. In addition to his administrative and pastoral work, he coached championship soccer and cross-country teams.

“The college has long envisioned offering a program for math teachers,” Ketteman said. “Having Stephen here will allow us to pursue that goal. He will teach full-time in the department and take over many of Dr. Pate’s administrative duties as well. Our plan is to have Dr. Etta Patterson serve as interim chairman of the department while Stephen completes his doctorate, after which time he will assume the chair of the department.”

Beck completed most of his coursework toward a master’s degree in engineering at the University of Alabama in Hunstville. He holds a master’s degree in mathematics education from the University of Virgin Islands, where he is an adjunct assistant professor in mathematics.

President Matt Pinson said, “I am delighted that Stephen Beck will join our Welch team. He has an ideal mix of administrative background, ministry experience, and fit with Welch’s mission. Plus, he has the public relations skills to recruit students, build the program, and relate to accrediting and approval agencies. He’s not only qualified, but he also combines deep spirituality with a hunger for truth and intellectual curiosity.”

Stephen, Rejyna, and their five children, Opal Ruth (12), James Foster (12), Stephen Linton (10), Samuel Fletcher (9), and Charlotte Grace (6), will move to Nashville this summer, when he will assume his new role.

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