Seminary Community Honors Steve Hayner, Announces Global Leadership Endowment

Seminary Community Honors Steve Hayner, Announces Global Leadership Endowment

Interim President Bill Scheu Addresses Community, Presidential Search Plans

The entire Columbia Theological Seminary community came together last week for events honoring its ninth president Steve Hayner. Students, faculty, staff, Board trustees, close friends, and even representatives from the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) with which the seminary is affiliated took time to recognize his contributions and accomplishments. Earlier in the week, the Board of Trustees elected Dr. Hayner as President Emeritus.

Throughout the summer, Steve Hayner has been pursuing an aggressive chemotherapy treatment plan for a pancreatic tumor which to date has yielded limited results. Steve and his wife Sharol Hayner continue to update the wider community about their daily challenges through their CaringBridge site.

“The one who signs his letters ‘Joyfully’ is the same one who did his thesis on Jeremiah. In it, he identified that suffering is not the effect of being a prophet, but integral to the prophetic call itself,” said Mark Labberton recounting his early experiences with Steve Hayner at a Board dinner last Monday night. Dr. Labberton is President of Fuller Theological Seminary and a longtime personal friend of the Hayners. Multiple speakers identified Steve Hayner’s ability to model faith and joy in the face of adversity.


Hayner Global Leadership Endowment

In response to supporters of Columbia Theological Seminary seeking a way to honor Steve Hayner and his many years of service, the Board established a new Stephen A. Hayner Global Leadership Endowment accepting the first contributions designated toward it. Board members and others were then encouraged to give additional amounts to support the endowment.

“The purpose of the Hayner Global Leadership Endowment is to foster initiatives for mutual enrichment and robust scholarship by engaging with leaders from diverse cultures empowering students for creative service in God’s changing world,” said Doug Taylor, Vice President of Institutional Advancement.This endowment will strategically fund leadership initiatives for personnel, programmatic, and curricular changes necessary to further deepen and strengthen our global partnerships through technology, education, global outreach and service.”

“Columbia Theological Seminary has a long history of world mission, but it has grown in recent years with a renewed focus on partnering with other institutions in other parts of the world for our mutual benefit,” said Deborah Flemister Mullen, Executive Vice President and Dean of Faculty. “Because of Steve’s passion for diversity and global leadership, Columbia Seminary now looks more like the world.”

In material provided at the events, Hayner’s personal commitments to cultural diversity, global outreach, instructional technology and relational leadership were noted as values central to the new Global Leadership Endowment. More information is available on the seminary’s Connections blog.


Interim Leadership for the Seminary

The Board of Trustees monitored Steve Hayner’s health over the summer, making decisions along the way to advance the seminary’s mission by identifying interim executive leadership. Initially, Dr. Mullen was appointed Acting President until the Board recently appointed William Scheu as the Interim President. Bill Scheu is a ruling elder at the Riverside Presbyterian Church in Jacksonville, FL. He and his wife Peggy will be moving to Decatur where the seminary is located. He currently serves as a member of the Rogers Towers, P.A. law 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.

In his comments to the community, Steve Hayner responded to questions asked about the interim leadership of the seminary saying, “I’m not worried about Columbia, because Columbia has never been about me. With all that we have put into thinking about our mission and curriculum and plans for the future, this is not a time to wait. It is a time to walk in hope and joy and faithfulness.”


Presidential Search Committee

A presidential search committee has been formed to recommend someone as the tenth President of Columbia Theological Seminary. The committee, made up of 14 people, was elected by the Board of Trustees, the faculty, the staff, the Alumni Council, and the Student Coordinating Council:

“Each member of the committee feels a strong sense of call to the work of discernment before us,” said Pen Peery, co-chair of the search committee. “We are in need of the prayers of our community – students, faculty and staff, alumni, donors, partner churches, global partners, and friends of the seminary – so we ask that you would actively pray for our work and for the Spirit of God to make plain what kind of leader is needed for the next great chapter of Columbia’s life as an institution that prepares leaders for the Church in God’s changing world.”

In his comments to the community, Interim President Bill Scheu stated that the goal is to have a new president in place before the new fiscal year starting July 1, 2015. “There are many new programs which have launched just in the last year under Steve’s and Deb’s leadership, and we are eager to keep that momentum going,” said Scheu. “That’s really the best way we can honor the work that has been done and prepare the way for the new president.”

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

Media Contact:
Michael Thompson
Director of Communications

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