April 14, 2015—The Board of Trustees for Columbia Theological Seminary voted unanimously today to appoint Dr. Leanne Van Dyk to be the school’s tenth president. She is currently the Dean and Vice President of Academic Affairs and Professor of Reformed Theology at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, MI. Dr. Van Dyk’s appointment is effective July 1, 2015.
After a nationwide search, Dr. Van Dyk succeeds Dr. Steve Hayner who began as president in July 2009, but had to step down after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer just one year ago. He died on January 31, 2015. Since that time, the seminary has been led by Dr. Deborah Flemister Mullen, the Executive Vice President and Dean of Faculty who served as Acting President from April till October, and by William E. Scheu who has served as Interim President since October.
“Dr. Van Dyk is deeply rooted in the Reformed tradition,” stated Rev. Dr. Tom Walker, Chair of Columbia’s Board of Trustees and pastor at the Palms Presbyterian Church in Jacksonville Beach, FL. “From that rootedness comes her commitment to cultural diversity and a proven track record for speaking theologically across cultural and religious boundaries. As evidenced by her significant connections within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and with other denominations as well, she is known for her ability to create close ties with students, faculty, staff, and members of the community.”
“It was hard to imagine whom this community guided by the Holy Spirit would call to be our next president,” said Deborah Flemister Mullen, Dean of Faculty and Executive Vice President for Columbia Theological Seminary. “Now we can rejoice! After years of watching Rev. Dr. Leanne Van Dyk from a distance and respecting her considerable gifts, I believe that our prayers have been answered. We can rely on Leanne to be an experienced administrator, visionary leader, prolific scholar, and passionate teacher of theology rooted in the Reformed tradition, to faithfully lead the seminary into the future embracing our diversity as a gift from God.”
“Leanne Van Dyk is a thoughtful and gifted theological educator, who understands both how to do theological education and why it is crucial to communities of faith,” said Daniel Aleshire, Executive Director of The Association of Theological Schools (ATS). “In addition to her years of service at Western Seminary, Leanne Van Dyk has been an active contributor to ATS accreditation and currently serves on the Board of Commissioners. She is a perceptive observer of theological education and deeply understands its complexities and possibilities.”
“Columbia Theological Seminary sings a loud hallelujah to welcome Dr. Leanne Van Dyke as its new President!” proclaimed Billy Michael Honor, a member of the presidential search committee and pastor at New Life Presbyterian Church in Atlanta. “Without a doubt, her administrative credentials, strong faith and commitment to educating Christian leaders for the Church and the world make her especially qualified to lead Columbia into its next chapter.”
“Leanne has long been a role model and mentor for me. Her essays have been read by our students for many years,” said Martha Moore-Keish, Associate Professor of Theology. “I had the pleasure of working with Leanne on A More Profound Alleluia, a volume which she edited and to which I contributed. She was a consummate editor, nurturing the writers with calm attention to detail as well as clear vision for the book as a whole. These gifts, which she has developed through her years of leadership at Western Seminary, will also make her a great president for Columbia Seminary—as role model, visionary, administrator, and friend.”
“Columbia is fortunate to have Leanne as its next president!” said Joseph Small, former Director of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Office of Theology and Worship. “She has proven administrative experience, but I always think of her as a fine theologian who has always done her scholarly work in the service of the church. The combination of theological faithfulness, love of the church, and administrative excellence makes her a great fit for Columbia, which has a reputation for quality academic service, done for the church.”
Dr. Leanne Van Dyk holds degrees from Calvin College (B.A.), Western Michigan University (M.A.), Calvin Theological Seminary (M.Div.) and Princeton Theological Seminary where she earned her Ph.D. in Systematic Theology, magna cum laude. Before teaching at Western Theological Seminary, she previously taught at San Francisco Theological Seminary and Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA.
Dr. Van Dyk’s other professional experience includes serving as a member of the Board of Commissioners of the Association of Theological Schools (ATS); as a member of the advisory committee for a $6 million Lilly Grant on new models in theological education; as a member of the Wabash Center’s Consultation on Theological Education; and on various projects with the Office of Theology and Worship for the Presbyterian Church (USA). One of her efforts remembered by many in the PC(USA) was as a member of the Catechism Committee which completed its work in 1998. She also participated in the Re-Forming Ministry project with the Office of Theology and Worship.
She has served on the editorial boards of Perspectives, the Journal of Reformed Thought, and the Scottish Journal of Theology. Dr. Van Dyk has published several books, including A More Profound Alleluia: Theology and Worship in Harmony for which she was also editor (Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2005); Believing in Jesus Christ, part of the “Foundations” series sponsored by the Office of Theology and Worship of the PC(USA) (Geneva Press, 2002); and The Desire of Divine Love: The Atonement Theology of John McLeod Campbell (Peter Lang Publishers, 1995).
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 www.ctsnet.edu.
The Presidential Search Committee was assisted by Diversified Search, the world’s 10th largest executive search firm according to industry rankings recognized for delivering high quality senior-level executive and corporate board searches. The firm is committed to bringing a diverse view to their work, helping clients open up new possibilities that go beyond the conventional. For more information, please visit: http://www.diversifiedsearch.com.
Image courtesy of Western Theological Seminary.
Director of Communications