Board members of North America’s free-standing theological schools are about to be surveyed in depth for the first time as to who they are, what gifts and experience they bring to trusteeship, and what hopes they entertain for the schools they serve.
“These are the people in whose hands the future of these institutions ultimately rests,” said Barbara G. Wheeler, president of Auburn Theological Seminary, the New York-based research institution whose Center for the Study of Theological Education is conducting the survey. “We really don’t know much about them.”
The great preponderance of those receiving the survey questionnaire will be readers of In Trust. Those who collaborated in the design of the survey, a group drawn from a wide array of experts in theological school governance including the editor and senior editor of In Trust, are hoping that most of those surveyed will respond. A small test run earlier in the year drew responses from more than two-thirds of those who received the questionnaires, Wheeler said.
The findings of the survey seem certain to provide insights of key importance in helping seminary boards to understand their role better and in equipping trustees to do their jobs better. The survey is being funded by a grant from Booth-Ferris Foundation in New York.
The Seminary of the East, a theological school that offers evening courses at four churches in the Northeast, has become an extension site of Bethel Theological Seminary and College. Bethel has campuses in St. Paul, Minnesota, and San Diego, California.
Both schools are affiliated with the Baptist General Conference.
This past spring the Seminary of the East held its thirteenth commencement and marked the first time it graduated students from all four of its centers, in Baltimore; Dresher, Pennsylvania; New York; and Auburn, Massachusetts. All sites except New York now offer masters of divinity degrees accredited through Bethel; New York’s accreditation is awaiting approval of the New York Board of Regents.
Interim president of the Seminary of the East is Philip Baur. Its new dean and executive officer is David Ritter.
Changes at the Top
James J. Walsh, director of the National Catholic Educational Association’s Seminary Department for the last seven years, has been called as pastor of St. Dominic’s Parish in Cincinnati, Ohio, effective October 1. A search for a new director is currently underway.
Laura S. Mendenhall assumed the presidency of Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia, in August. She comes to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) school from the pastorate of Westminster Presbyterian Church, Austin, Texas, where she has headed the staff since 1991. Her predecessor at Columbia, Douglas Oldenburg, is on sabbatical until his retirement begins in December.
Richard A. Rosengarten is the new dean of the Divinity School of the University of Chicago, the school from which he received his doctorate. He has been dean of students and senior lecturer at the school since 1991. His predecessor, W. Clark Gilpin, has returned to full-time teaching and research at the school.
Heidi Hadsell is the new president of Hartford Seminary. Until next June, she will also continue to serve as the director of the Ecumenical Institute of the World Council of Churches in Bossey, Switzerland, a position she has held since 1997. During this time she has been on leave from McCormick Theological Seminary, Chicago, where she was vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty. Her predecessor, Barbara Brown Zikmund, is joining the faculty of the Graduate School of American Studies at the Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan.
Patrick Williams has stepped up from the vice-rectorship of Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans to become the school’s rector-president. His predecessor, Gregory Aymond, has been appointed coadjutor bishop of Austin, Texas.
Rod J. K. Wilson assumed the presidency of Regent College in August. He comes to the evangelical school in Vancouver, British Columbia, from Forest Brook Bible Chapel in Pickering, Ontario, where he has been teaching pastor since 1995. He previously taught at Ontario Theological Seminary (now Tyndale Seminary). His predecessor, Walter Wright, who was president of Regent for twelve years, is now head of the De Pree Leadership Center at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.
Ron Benefiel became president of Nazarene Theological Seminary in July. He comes to the Kansas City school from Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego, California, where he was professor of sociology and religion. Gordon Wetmore, Benefiel’s predecessor at Nazarene, retired after eight years as president.
David Maldonado has been named the twelfth president of Iliff School of Theology. He comes to the United Methodist Church’s Denver school from Perkins School of Theology in Dallas, Texas, where he was professor of church and society. His predecessor, Donald Messer, will return to the school to teach practical theology after a year’s sabbatical.
David Schroeder was elected president of Alliance Theological Seminary in Nyack, New York, on September 1. Since 1993 he has been president of Nyack College, a position he will continue to hold. His predecessor at the Christian Missionary and Alliance school, David L. Rambo, is teaching at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky.
Neal Fisher is retiring next June after twenty years as president of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois. During his tenure, the United Methodist school has instituted centers for ethics and values, religion and the news media, Hispanic ministries, and Asian-American ministries. Over the last ten years, the seminary’s endowment has increased from $11 million to more than $60 million. The school’s board chair, James M. Hook, is serving as chair of the search committee.
Hallett Llewellyn has announced his resignation as principal of Queens Theological College, the United Church of Canada school in Kingston, Ontario. He and his wife, Karen MacKay Llewellyn have accepted a call to a team ministry at Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church in Toronto. Daniel Fraikin, professor emeritus of New Testament, will serve as acting principal.
Arthur Heidebrecht is serving as interim principal of McMaster Divinity College in Hamilton, Ontario. Heidebrecht, former provost and vice-president of McMaster University, is a Presbyterian; the Divinity College is a school of the Baptist Convention of Ontario and Quebec. He is the school’s second interim principal since William H. Brackney left in June to become dean of the department of religion at Baylor University in Waco, Texas; the first, Richard Vosburgh left the post for health reasons.
George H. Sinclair, Jr., has been named interim president at the Swedenborg School of Religion in Newton Centre, Massachusetts. He was formerly director of field education, professor of church and ministry (chairing that department), and acting dean and president at Andover Newton Theological School in Newton Centre. He had retired two years ago but agreed to serve as Swedenborg’s interim president while the school considers its future direction. Former president Mary Kay Klein, feeling she had completed a significant ministry during her first five-year term, decided not to stand for reappointment and has moved on to All Saints parish in Brookline, Massachusetts, where she is executive director of RUAH, a program that brings people together from various traditions to develop their spirituality.
John H. Chapman is the acting dean at Huron College Faculty of Theology in London, Ontario. He succeeds Bradley McLean who has taken a teaching position at Knox College in Toronto. Last year Chapman held the Huron-Lawson Chair of Pastoral Theology, coming there from a parish ministry at St. Jude’s Anglican Church in London.
Robert F. Coleman is the new rector and dean of Immaculate Conception Seminary in South Orange, New Jersey. He moves up from his position as vice rector-business manager. The previous rector-dean, John W. Flesey, began a sabbatical year in June and will be returning to his earlier post as spiritual director.
J. Randall O’Brien has been appointed acting dean at George W. Truett Theological Seminary at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He takes over from J. Bradley Creed who resigned as dean at the end of May. O’Brien will also continue to serve as the executive assistant to the president of Baylor University and a member of the Baylor religion faculty while the search is in progress for a new dean.
Gordon MacDermid leaves his teaching position at the Atlantic School of Theology in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to assume the post of dean at the University of Winnipeg Faculty of Theology in Manitoba. He replaces Ray Whitehead who will be taking up an eighteen-month volunteer teaching position in the Philippines now that he has retired.