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Columbia Theological Seminary Names New Dean/Executive VP


Decatur, GA. Deborah F. Mullen has been named dean of the faculty/executive vice president at Columbia Theological Seminary, in Decatur, GA. Her appointment, which includes the faculty rank of associate professor of American Christianity and Black church studies, is effective October 1, 2010, and was approved by the seminary’s Board of Trustees on May 14.

A seasoned academic administrator and an ordained pastor in the Presbyterian Church (USA), Dr. Mullen is currently on the faculty of McCormick Theological Seminary, in Chicago. She succeeds D. Cameron Murchison, Jr., who has held the position for the past nine years. Dr. Murchison, also professor of ministry, will begin a sabbatical leave at the start of the 2010-2011 academic year and will retire in June 2011.

President Stephen A. Hayner, announced Dr. Mullen’s appointment during the seminary’s commencement service on Saturday, May 15. “Our prayerful, nationwide search has led us to a new dean of the faculty / executive vice president who represents a wonderful combination of spiritual vitality, professional leadership skills, relational wisdom, and church commitment,” he said.  “God is at work here forging a partnership of seminary, congregation, and individuals to sustain a strong, healthy institution preparing leaders for Christ’s church.  Deborah Mullen will bring wonderful gifts and energy to this work together, and I am thrilled to have her as a key partner in this ministry.”

At McCormick Seminary, Deborah Mullen is associate professor of ministry and historical studies, and she is director of the Center for African American Ministries and Black Church Studies, which she founded in 2003. She joined the McCormick faculty in 1989 to fill the newly created position of associate dean of master’s program for experiential education and field studies. In 1998, she was elected dean of masters level programs, a post she held for 10 years.

Before joining the McCormick faculty, Dr. Mullen was associate dean of students/director of minority student affairs at her alma mater, the University of Rochester. She received the M.Div. degree from Colgate Rochester Divinity School/Bexley Hall/Crozer Theological Seminary, and the Ph.D. in the history of Christianity from the Divinity School of the University of Chicago.

Mark Douglas, associate professor of Christian ethics, chaired the search committee that nominated Deborah Mullen. “She is as winsome in person as she is impressive on paper,” Dr. Douglas said. “She gave wonderful answers to the search committee’s questions and asked provocative questions to follow up our answers. She speaks from deep faith and has the rare gift of encouraging the language of faith from others.“ 

A member of the Presbytery of Chicago, Dr. Mullen was previously in Genesee Valley (NY) Presbytery, serving a four-year appointment as stated supply pastor of Trinity Emmanuel Presbyterian Church, in Rochester. During her pastorate she was active ecumenically and was a collaborator with other local church pastors in the development of ministries for families and youth on the southwest side of Rochester. 

From 1988 to 2000, Dr. Mullen represented the Presbyterian Church (USA) on the Faith and Order Commission of the National Council of Churches of Christ, serving two terms on the executive committee and as its vice-chair. She has served the denomination in a variety of national leadership roles and internationally at ecumenical gatherings sponsored by the World Council of Churches. She served two terms as one of seven elected members on the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation's board of directors.

Among her published works are articles and book chapters found in Shaping Beloved Community: Multicultural Theological Education, the Presbyterian Survey, The Journal of the Presbyterian Historical Society, Renewing the Vision, Out of the Ashes, and Ending Racism in the Church. Dr. Mullen was also co-editor of Ordination: Past, Present, and Future, a collection published by the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Columbia Theological Seminary, located in Decatur, GA, was established in 1828 and is one of 10 theological institutions of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Media Contact:
Michael Thompson
Director of Communications

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