Columbia Seminary Board Appoints Interim President

Columbia Seminary Board Appoints Interim President

Decatur, GA—This morning the Board of Trustees for Columbia Theological Seminary met by conference call to elect an Interim President. With a strong recommendation from the search committee, the vote by the full Board was unanimous to appoint William E. Scheu, who currently serves as the outgoing Board Chair, to begin Wednesday, October 8 until the 10th President is elected. Rev. Dr. Tom Walker, pastor of the Palms Presbyterian Church, Jacksonville Beach, FL will serve as the incoming Board Chair.

Many were enthusiastic about the election of Mr. Scheu. “I couldn’t be more pleased that Bill will be serving in this role,” said Steve Hayner. “He has been Board Chair for seven years with both Laura Mendenhall and me. He is a longtime friend of the seminary, and has great working relationships with the Cabinet, as well as the staff and faculty. One of the great things about Bill is that these relationships are already in place, and he feels them genuinely.”

Throughout the summer, Dr. Steve Hayner has been pursuing an aggressive chemotherapy treatment plan for a pancreatic tumor which to date has yielded limited results. The Board of Trustees has monitored his health, and has made decisions to advance the seminary’s mission by identifying interim executive leadership. Steve and his wife Sharol Hayner continue to update the wider community about their daily challenges through their CaringBridge site (

Executive Vice President and Dean of Faculty Dr. Deborah Flemister Mullen was previously appointed Acting President until an interim appointment could be made. “I am consistently amazed by the ministry of Steve and Sharol. Our community is forever changed by their faithful witness,” said Dr. Mullen. “I am thrilled that the Board has chosen Bill as our Interim President. He knows us well, and is committed to a seamless transition ‘for such a time as this.’”

“As a member of the faculty, I am so grateful for the election of Bill Scheu to lead us during this interim time,” said Rodger Nishioka, Benton Family Associate Professor of Christian Education and a member of the search committee. “I can testify with certainty that Bill Scheu loves Jesus Christ.  He loves the Church. And he loves Columbia Seminary. He offers to us gracious leadership that will comfort the community in our grieving, sustain the community in our ongoing work, and prepare and inspire us for the future that God is unfolding before us.”

William Scheu is a ruling elder at the Riverside Presbyterian Church in Jacksonville, FL, where he has served as clerk of session, deacon, trustee, and church school teacher. He received an undergraduate degree in history at the University of the South and a juris doctorate with honors from the University of Florida. He currently serves as a member of the Rogers Towers, P.A. firm in Jacksonville and specializes in commercial real estate and business transactions. He will take a leave of absence from the firm with plans to return there at a later time. Bill has also served in numerous ways in the greater Jacksonville community including supervisor of elections for Duval County and chair of the Jacksonville Retirement Reform task force at the invitation of the mayor of Jacksonville. He has received a number of honors and awards including twice being recognized as lawyer of the year by the Jacksonville Bar Association and the humanitarian award by the National Conference of Christians and Jews. He is married to Margaret (Peggy), and together they are the parents of three adult daughters and grandparents of six.

In a statement, Bill Scheu said, “It is an honor to be called as Columbia’s Interim President, but somewhat bittersweet, because all of us wish that Steve and Sharol Hayner were still able to lead the Columbia community. Peggy and I, and many others, learn daily from Steve and Sharol the true meaning of “joy,” as they continue to witness to us in truly remarkable ways. Going forward, our call is to help Columbia’s faculty and administrative staff continue to do well in what they already excel. Columbia is in a strong and healthy place, thanks to the leadership already provided by the faculty, staff and Board of trustees. Today, students at Columbia are learning to be imaginative and resilient leaders, and God’s changing world is already anticipating their service. Peggy and I feel privileged to serve among them and to be part of a very Christ-centered and caring community. We ask for prayers for Steve and Sharol, for the entire Columbia community and for the Church and world.”

The Board of Trustees also elected eight of its members to the search committee for what will be the 10th President of Columbia Theological Seminary. They are:

The Board will later vote on recommendations for five additional members including a student, a staff member, an alum, and two faculty from the seminary to complete the search committee. After that vote, the committee will begin its work.

The Board will convene for its regular fall meeting on Monday, October 6 and Tuesday, October 7. During that time, the Board and the campus community will pause to recognize and to honor all of Steve Hayner’s contributions to Columbia Seminary.

Columbia Theological Seminary is committed to “educating imaginative, resilient leaders for God’s changing world.” As an educational institution of the Presbyterian Church (USA), Columbia is a community of theological inquiry and formation for ministry in the service of the Church of Jesus Christ. Columbia offers seven graduate degree programs and dozens of courses and events as a resource for church professionals and lay people through the Center for Lifelong Learning. For more information, please visit

Michael Thompson
Director of Communications
404.687.4530 or

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