Hall of Fame Member Biographies

Dr. William Tabbernee

Few Oklahomans have faced as daunting a task as has the Rev. Dr. William Tabbernee, and few Oklahomans have succeeded so completely in mastering a perilous situation. Phillips Theological Seminary, whose roots extend back to 1907, was in dire straits in 1991 when Dr. Tabbernee was chosen president. The Seminary, a graduate theological school, had separated from Phillips University in 1987 and was in danger of financial collapse.  In his eighteen years as president, Dr. Tabbernee increased the Seminary’s endowment from $2.1 million to more than $25 million, and moved the institution from a rented space to a campus of 60,000 square feet on seven-and-one-half acres in Tulsa.  The campus now has over 200 students.  Moreover, Dr. Tabbernee has maintained scholarly excellence in his area of expertise.  He has published over seventy scholarly articles, seven books, and has two books forthcoming.  As a student of the history of early Christianity, Dr. Tabbernee has also engaged in archaeological explorations, and his work in Turkey has produced major discoveries, including two long-lost significant cities.  Since 1991 he has been the Stephen J. England Distinguished Professor of the History of Christianity.  As evidence of his work for the community, Dr. Tabbernee was recognized by the Oklahoma Conference for Community and Justice and the Tulsa Metropolitan Ministry for his outstanding leadership in Tulsa’s interfaith community.  The Oklahoma Higher Education Heritage association proudly welcomes Dr. William Tabbernee into the Oklahoma Higher Education Hall of Fame.