New grants will support innovation in theological schools

The Henry Luce Foundation has announced a new competitive granting process for schools of theology and related organizations. The new Luce Fund for Theological Education will support programs that are linked to the emphases of the foundation’s theology program, which has been awarding grants to seminaries, ecumenical organizations, and other religious institutions since 1937. These emphases include (1) collaborative, experimental, and potentially field-shaping initiatives; (2) curricular innovations and new pedagogical approaches; (3) inventive uses of digital technologies and new publication platforms; and (4) projects that are driven by faculty. 

Institutions eligible to apply include accredited U.S. seminaries and divinity schools, as well as other institutions and organizations that support the work of graduate theological education. Seminaries outside the United States may apply if they have nonprofit status recognized by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. The foundation welcomes multi-institutional collaborations. 

Grant amounts of $250,000 to $500,000 will be considered, and letters of inquiry must be submitted between January 1 and March 15. A select number of inquirers will be invited to present full proposals.

During the review process, the Luce Foundation will be assisted by an advisory committee that includes David Greenhaw (Eden Theological Seminary), Jan Love (Candler School of Theology), Ingrid Mattson (Huron University College), Alton B. Pollard III (Howard University School of Divinity), and Diane Winston (University of Southern California). 

Over the last two decades, the theology program of the Henry Luce Foundation has sought to deepen attention to globalism, pluralism, and religious diversity in theological schools while also supporting interdisciplinary scholarship that promotes engagement with both the religious community and the general public. 

More information on the new Luce Fund and the foundation’s theology program is available at

Union Seminary announces real estate partnership to develop air rights


Union Theological Seminary has announced that it will transfer air rights to a developer, who will build a narrow skyscraper on the northeast edge of the seminary campus in New York City. The lower floors of the new tower will include apartments for faculty, while the upper floors, with a separate entrance, will be sold as luxury condos.

In a public announcement, seminary President Serene Jones stated that while the institution has a balanced budget and a healthy endowment, the century-old campus needs renovations that will cost more than $100 million. The new condominium tower promises to finance these renovations and also pay for updated dormitories and “smart” classrooms.

GTU to create a new center for Hindu studies

The Graduate Theological Union (GTU) in Berkeley has announced that a $4.4 million gift will establish a Center for Dharma Studies. The GTU already offers certificates and concentrations in Hindu studies, as well as courses in Jain studies. The new Center for Dharma Studies will support these programs and foster new research in Hinduism and other religions and philosophies that constitute the “dharma tradition.” 

The Graduate Theological Union includes eight seminaries—two Catholic, five Protestant, and one Unitarian Universalist—as well as centers and institutes that focus on Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Orthodox Christianity, theology and science, and religion and the arts.

Bexley Seabury Federation announces closure of Ohio site

 Bexley Seabury’s Ohio campus

The board of directors of the Bexley Seabury Seminary Federation has announced that starting in fall 2016, all its programs — including the M.Div. and D.Min. degree programs — will be operated from its Chicago site. The announcement signals an end to the federation’s partnership with Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Columbus, Ohio, which began in 1999. Under the agreement that is now ending, Episcopal students in Ohio took most of their classes at Trinity Lutheran Seminary but received an Episcopal seminary degree through Bexley Seabury. Two of the three Ohio faculty members, including an associate professor of Anglican studies and the director of field education, will continue on the faculty of the federation after the Ohio program ends. The academic dean, Tom Ferguson, has been appointed rector of a parish in Massachusetts but will continue as an adjunct member of the faculty.

ChanGes at the top

 David Ray

■ The board of trustees of Cincinnati Christian University has named David Ray as the university’s interim president. He succeeds Ken Tracy, president since 2014, who resigned to return to his previous role as president of TaleMed, a health care consulting firm.

Ray has been a member of the faculty of Cincinnati Christian University since 2011. In 2013, he was named dean of Cincinnati Bible Seminary, a graduate division of the university, and in 2015, he was also named as dean of the Russell School of Ministry, an undergraduate division that offers bachelor’s degrees in practical ministries, music, and worship.

Before being named to the faculty of Cincinnati Christian University, Ray led churches in Tennessee, Indiana, and Ohio. He is a graduate of Johnson University, Emmanuel Christian Seminary, and Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

 Matthew Frizzell

■ The president of Graceland University in Independence, Missouri, has named Matthew Frizzell as dean of the university’s graduate division, Community of Christ Seminary. He succeeds Stassi D. Cramm, interim dean from 2014 to 2015, who is a denominational official in the Community of Christ.

The Community of Christ Seminary offers one degree, a master of arts in religion, and is the only seminary associated with the denomination formerly known as the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Frizzell is a graduate of Graceland University, Saint Paul School of Theology in Kansas City, and Chicago Theological Seminary. He holds the office of high priest in the Community of Christ and is a counselor to the president of the Quorum of High Priests. Before joining the seminary, he was campus minister at Graceland University and president of the Community of Christ’s Chicago Mission Center. He also taught both undergraduate and graduate courses at Graceland University.

Frizzell and his wife, Margo Frizzell, are the parents of two children.

 Karen Walker Freeburg

■ The board of trustees of Northern Seminary has named Karen Walker Freeburg as interim president of the seminary. She succeeds Alistair Brown, who is resigning effective June 2016 after a yearlong sabbatical. Brown has led the seminary, which is affiliated with the American Baptist Churches, since 2008.

Walker Freeburg has been a member of the seminary community since 1995 and has served in a variety of roles, including director of admissions and financial aid and director of supervised ministry. She was named academic dean in 2009 and is currently vice president of academic affairs and associate professor of ministry, positions she will continue to hold during her interim presidency.

An ordained American Baptist minister, Walker Freeburg is a graduate of the University of Puget Sound and Northern Seminary. She and her husband, Keith Freeburg, have three grown children.

 R. Keith Iddings

■  Robert Duffett, president of Eastern University, has named university provost R. Keith Iddings as interim dean of Eastern’s graduate division, Palmer Theological Seminary. Iddings succeeds Edwin David Aponte, who served as dean for one year before he was named executive director of the Louisville Institute at Louisville Theological Seminary.

Before moving to Eastern University in 2014, Iddings was for nine years the provost and vice president for academic affairs at Southern Wesleyan University in Central, South Carolina. He previously served at Indiana Wesleyan University and Trinity International University in various capacities, including dean.

Iddings is a graduate of Asbury College, Asbury Theological Seminary, and the University of Wisconsin. Ordained in the American Baptist and Wesleyan churches, he served as a church-planting missionary in the Philippines before earning his doctoral degree in adult education.

 Michael Joseph Brown

■ Michael Joseph Brown has been named interim president of Payne Theological Seminary in Wilberforce, Ohio. He succeeds Leah Gaskin Fitchue, who retired in 2015 after 11 years at the helm of the seminary, which is affiliated with the African Methodist Episcopal Church. When Gaskin Fitchue was named president of Payne in 2004, she was the first African American woman to lead an accredited seminary in the United States or Canada.

Brown was named academic dean of Payne in 2014 and is remaining in that role during his interim presidency. From 1999 to 2011 he was director of the graduate program in religion at Emory University and then, from 2011 to 2013, associate dean and director of the Malcolm X Institute of Black Studies at Wabash College.

Brown is a graduate of Vanderbilt University and the University of Chicago. He is an ordained minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

 Dale Woods

■ Dale Woods has been named principal of Presbyterian College in Montreal. He succeeds John A. Vissers, who was headed the school from 1999 until he departed in 2013 to become director of academic programs and professor of historical theology at Knox College in Toronto.

Woods was director of pastoral studies at Presbyterian College from 2008 until he was appointed principal in 2014. Previously he was for 14 years the senior minister of First Presbyterian Church in Brandon, Manitoba. He is a graduate of the University of Alberta, Regent College in Vancouver, the Vancouver School of Theology, and Luther Seminary.

Presbyterian College is one of the constituent members of the Montreal School of Theology, a consortium of three denominational theological colleges and the Faculty of Religious Studies at McGill University.

 David Mulroney

■ The governing board of the University of St. Michael’s College has named David Mulroney as the seventh president and vice-chancellor of the school, which is an independent Catholic university in federation with the University of Toronto. He succeeds Professor Anne Anderson, C.S.J., president from 2008 to 2015, a former dean of the university’s Faculty of Theology. (Anderson was recently elected to the board of directors of the In Trust Center for Theological Schools, the publisher of In Trust magazine.)

Mulroney is a career foreign service officer who from 2009 to 2012 served as Canadian ambassador to China. At the time of his appointment, he was serving as a distinguished senior fellow at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs.

 James Ginther

■ James R. Ginther has been named the new dean of the Faculty of Theology at the University of St. Michael’s College. He succeeds Basilian Father Mario O. D’Souza, who has returned to the faculty holding the Basilian Fathers Chair in Religion and Education.

Ginther has also been named to the Sisters of St. Joseph Chair in Theology. At the time of his appointment, he was director of the Center for Digital Theology at St. Louis University in St. Louis, Missouri. A scholar of medieval studies, he has harnessed the internet and social media to share information and insights about Norman intellectual and religious life.

A graduate of the University of Toronto, Ginther previously taught at the University of Leeds before moving to St. Louis in 2002.


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