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Dr. J. Paul and Mary Savell met at Southwestern in the late 40s. Encouraged by Dick Pruett, Mary’s older brother (Paul’s roommate and quartet partner), a strategically placed picture of Mary on Dick’s nightstand did the trick. Their four children are eternally grateful for their uncle’s meddling. After marrying in 1951, the Savells took an associate pastor position in Dallas and later pastored a church in Tennessee. Shortly after leaving Chattanooga, they heard God’s call to a career in education, which meant returning to school.

Every summer, one or both of them took classes toward a degree—a pattern that endured well into their children's adult years. Their children weren't surprised when Paul, after two Bachelor’s, a Masters, and the completion of his Ed.D., signed up for another Master’s program the following semester. In fact, in his mid-70’s, Paul decided to learn Spanish at the local Jr. College and took classes until the final year of his life. 

Paul, a perfectionist, always made the A. But not Mary—she enjoyed the journey and was just as happy with a C as with a higher grade. Paul’s interests led him into Administration while Mary entered the classroom, first as a kindergarten teacher and later as a Diagnostician in Early Childhood. Gifted with patience and insight into the struggles of those with difficulties learning, Mary's grasp of how kids learn unlocked barriers hindering students from gaining skills necessary to succeed.

After leaving the public schools in 1986, Mary founded the Learning Lab at Southwestern.

Joining Southwestern in 1973, Paul filled a variety of positions until his retirement in 1990. During his five years as president, he developed the Distance Education Program and secured Level II Accreditation with SACS, enabling the University to offer bachelor degrees in programs other than church ministries. More than half the students enrolled today are majoring in programs made possible by Paul's vision that laid the academic foundation for the growth SAGU experiences today.

 

Summary of Ministry

  • Associate Pastor, Pastor, Music Minister for different churches in TX
  • Dr. Savell served as a public school teacher and administrator for HISD until he returned to Southwestern to serve as the Dean and Registrar for the Jr. College in 1973.  He later served Southwestern as the Academic Dean and then President until his retirement in 1990.
  • In 1986, Dr. Savell helped to establish the SAGU Foundation in order to build and manage the school’s endowment funds.
  • In 1988, the Bible College and Jr. College merged into one four-year institution after receiving accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
  • Mrs. Mary Savell served as Kindergarten Teacher and Educational Diagnostician until her retirement in 1986.  She then joined the staff at Southwestern, where she was instrumental in creating the Learning Lab.  She also taught several introductory college classes.
  • In 2004, Dr. Savell received the P.C. Nelson Distinguished Alumnus Award for achieving prominence in his field of service.
  • In 2009, the South Texas District of the Assemblies of God honored Dr. Savell for fifty years of service.

 

Dr. J. Paul and Mary Savell Gallery

 

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