When I set up an appointment to interview Dr. Steven Mason (ThM, 2002), the president of LeTourneau University, I hesitantly expected to meet a glossy, rigidly driven bureaucrat. After all, such a highly influential position must have demanded a fair amount of elbow-throwing and jostling.
Instead of a stiff administrator, I met a very different man at the helm: a highly relational, modest, witty, and congenial believer. Dr. Mason was driven, but he wasn’t motivated by a desire for worldly position. He was motivated to find the Lord’s will by chasing questions.
Steven and his wife, Bonnie (MABS, 2002), met at Baylor University. After their marriage, questions about the Bible and the faith guided them to DTS. There, Steven graduated with his ThM with an emphasis in New Testament and Bonnie with her MABS. They never took any classes together. “Thankfully,” Dr. Mason joked, “I was scared she would make a better grade.” But their time at DTS generated friendships that have continued to this day.
While their seminary days were filled with lasting community, their path forward was wide open. Under the guidance of Professor Darrell Bock (ThM, 1979), Steven knew that he had an aptitude for teaching and shepherding. Yet, he faced numerous questions about what his family’s future would hold. Thankfully, Steven was becoming increasingly familiar with chasing questions.
The couple moved to Scotland to study at the University of St. Andrews. Steven began his program without declaring a specific field. His emphasis at DTS was New Testament, which made studying New Testament for his PhD logical. However, as Steven reflected on the questions that drove him to pursue doctoral work, he realized that most of them were about the Old Testament; professors such as Gordon Johnston (ThM, 1985; ThD, 1992) had stirred his interest in biblical covenants. Taking his uncertainty as a sign from the Lord, he began his research into the phrase “everlasting covenant” in the Pentateuch.
A doctoral degree, four years, and a child later, Steven’s work was picked up by T&T Clark and published in 2008 as Eternal Covenant in the Pentateuch: The Contours of an Elusive Phrase. Then, an opportunity to teach Old Testament at LeTourneau University popped up. As Baylor and DTS graduates, Steven and Bonnie had little knowledge of the university, known as “The Christian Polytechnic University.” The university was known for high academic output with flagship programs in engineering and aviation.
Dr. Mason never anticipated serving as a professor at LeTourneau University. Yet, the questions he had chased to Dallas and then Scotland led him to Longview, Texas. Over the next fifteen years, the Lord continued to guide Dr. Mason into different roles from Dean of Faculty to Provost and Chief Academic Officer. The Lord would open a door, and Steven would faithfully walk through it. In March 2021, the Lord led Dr. Mason to the role as president of LeTourneau University.
While his role as president primarily involves coordinating a team of vice presidents, he cherishes the opportunity to build relationships with students, professors, staff, alumni, and friends of the university, casting vision for the years to come. When asked what he wanted people to take away from this article, Dr. Mason first joked “that bald guys can be cool” (e.g., Bock, Johnston, Mason). But then he went on to say,
I wouldn’t be the president of LeTourneau without the formation from DTS—not only because of DTS; God has used everything in my life, but I truly believe that DTS was one key, formative time in my life that enabled me to be in a role where I am leading spiritually. I am grateful for how my heart and mind were shaped at DTS.
Earning a degree at DTS has an incredible potential to cultivate faith and answer the difficult questions. However, it takes a student who is willing to walk in faith and chase questions. Prior to interviewing Dr. Steven Mason, my expectations for the role were woefully inaccurate. Instead of a rigid bureaucrat, I met a highhearted and dedicated believer, eager to meet God and unafraid to chase questions.