A Q&A With the New President

A Q&A With the New President

A Q&A With Our New President

Rev. Dr. Victor Aloyo joins Columbia on August 1. Read some reflections from him as he gets for his new role.

What is it that draws you to Columbia Theological Seminary?

Columbia’s commitment to educating and nurturing faithful, imaginative, and effective leaders for the Church and the world resonates with my experience and skills in being an effective and collaborative instrument for the “equipping of the saints.” I am drawn to Columbia Theological Seminary because I believe with its long and rich history, it is positioned to serve a vital purpose of leading the theological academy by preparing people for innovative, creative, and substantive leadership. My call to ministry embraces important principles of adaptive leadership, innovation in strategic planning, trust-building, equitable distribution of resources, and access to education. With the collaboration of trustees, students, faculty, administrators, alumni, community organizers, faith leaders, and donors, I intend to serve to equip the saints for ministry. The vision statement recently approved excites my outlook and is integral to my passion for continuing exploring and modeling how God intersects our common call at all levels of the teaching-learning-serving paradigm.

What are your thoughts/hopes/ideas as you prepare to become the 11th President of Columbia?

During these endemic times when viruses, wars, political unrest, and religious divisiveness are impacting the integrity of institutions created to serve as transformative platforms, such as the family, communities of faith, and educational systems, I am convinced now is the time for substantive evaluation of existing approaches in theological higher education and sustainable innovation in curricular development. Columbia is committed to meeting these challenges by raising intellectual capacity and imagination while nurturing passion, compassion, and empathy through its students, faculty, administration, staff, alumni, and partners.

We will move forward in meeting these challenges by operating from a position of grace and strength. I am ready to lead the Columbia community by ensuring that the Seminary’s mission is clearly articulated to internal and external constituents. I am committed to engaging, transparent, and collaborative leadership so that the campus community shares a collective understanding of the Seminary’s mission, vision, and values.

Converting challenges into innovative solutions and focusing on continuous improvement is necessary to ensure the ongoing success of Columbia Theological Seminary. Supporting team members by recognizing their tireless work and who are prepared to take risks is a crucial part of my role. Too often, stakeholders are afraid to “think outside of the box” for fear of negative repercussions if the idea does not create positive results.

While risk must be tempered, my job is to support entrepreneurial ideas and theological imagination while ensuring support if things do not go as hoped.

What is one message you want to convey to the Columbia community as they learn of your appointment as President-elect?

Previous financial shocks have hit higher education institutions and, more adversely, theological schools and seminaries, either the revenue or the expenditure sides of the ledger, but the coronavirus and its variants have hit both simultaneously. In the last two years, hiring freezes, furloughs, salary freezes, and layoffs have become the norm for survivability. This current reality has created a phenomenon where the priority on financial flexibility will need to be operational for a period. With a decline in overall applications stemming from the fear of indebtedness in an unstable economy, prioritizing financial liquidity may lead seminaries to reconsider ambitious plans to grow their way out of budgetary challenges. Therefore,

We will need to examine different rhythms of learning, community service, and other experiential opportunities with the bold confidence that something new is being created (Isaiah 43).

We must reimagine what community will look like after these numerous disruptions have challenged the very core of our theological foundations. It is imperative to design an inclusive process wherein we can define and refine our questions before enumerating solutions that skim the surface of our lament and grief. Questions such as “What creative solutions will our faculty members devise to challenge their classes?” “How will students develop new ways of finding and maintaining friends and taking care of one another?” “What disciplines need to be integrated into our curriculum development processes to acknowledge the long-term effects of the pandemic, such as mental health, spiritual direction, ministry entrepreneurship, and so on?”

We will explore and implement creative cultural capacity-building platforms that will enhance our sense of inclusive community as we will commit to safeguarding the integrity and viability of every story in our midst.

We have tough days coming, yet Columbia Theological Seminary has the resolve and capacity to explore and execute. It has weathered many storms in its close to two centuries of being an educational ministry of the Presbyterian Church with excellence. I am aware that the Office of the President is more complex and demanding than it has been. Yet, I am enthused about this opportunity to serve with faculty, students, alumni, trustees, and staff. I am committed to not only being an effective communicator of the Seminary’s mission and vision but an integral part of the healing, change, and innovation process.

How will your service to La Iglesia Presbiteriana Nuevas Fronteras, and other churches, inform your work as President of Columbia?

As I reflect on the gift of God’s call in my life, I rejoice in the opportunity of serving Christ and the Church. As an organizing pastor of three congregations, including my current call with La Iglesia Presbiteriana Nuevas Fronteras for the past eighteen years, I have learned that every voice matters. In this context, we have seen the hand of God guiding us through many transitions. A congregation composed of families from twenty-one countries in Latin America, Asia, Europe, and Africa, I consistently witness God’s Kairos in our interactions. Amid the chaos of pandemics and a country riddled with racism and socio-economic depravity, I admire the resilience of a group of people who suffered immeasurable loss and are walking on eggshells every day of their lives. Amidst these struggles, we have served as an educational platform for over sixty seminarians from Princeton Theological Seminary. They are now pastors, educators, social workers, and servants of the Lord in numerous places. In creating a leadership style of collaboration, I have learned countless lessons of grace, resilience, and humility from elders, deacons, children, scholars, and young adults. My parents and mentors taught me invaluable lessons regarding the responsibility of “equipping the saints” for ministry. This honorable venture is not to be accomplished alone. I bring to the call of the President of Columbia Seminary an eager willingness to walk with students, faculty, staff, alums, and trustees in this journey of life as we keep our hands on the plow (Luke 9:51-62) and our sights beyond what we can see.

What are some things that you are looking forward to learning and working on as you prepare to transition to be our next President?

This is an exciting time to be part of Columbia Theological Seminary. Then again, every chapter in Columbia’s history has been exciting because the God we serve is constantly creating. As I prepare to transition to be your next President, I look forward to learning from and working with;

Every constituent of the Seminary in learning the institution’s history and appreciating its aspirations by establishing a comprehensive process of listening and dialoguing. Vision casting and strategic planning are successful when we all contribute to its strategy and implementation.

The faculty who has demonstrated a long-term and profound impact on our students and the community. I pledge to work with the Vice President of Academic Affairs and the Academic Affairs team to strengthen Columbia’s commitment to its faculty through further support. Our commitment to the teaching-learning process must remain at the very core of everything we do. Columbia can never lose sight of its primary responsibility to provide the experiences, instruction, and examples to support culturally sensitive pedagogy and meaningful learning in each new cohort of students.

Our students represent numerous denominations, cultural realities, and theological perspectives. I will encourage us all to view and embrace the diversity of our campus community as an irreplaceable educational resource that enriches all our lives and permits student formation and human flourishing to be experienced across institutional lines.

Our Student Affairs and Enrollment Management colleagues as we enhance how we conduct our outreach, recruitment, mentoring, and retention efforts of a diverse population of students. This is fundamental to the overall learning experience at Columbia. We must commit ourselves to providing the most comprehensive learning environment of belonging possible, one that will equip our students to lead and contribute to a world of multiple perspectives, viewpoints, and values.

Our Administrative Staff as we continue to steadfastly intensify our continuing efforts to be wise stewards as we support such inclusivity since the Church and entities called to transform oppressive systems will fully actualize.

Our Board of Trustees as we continue to strive to provide a top-tier education to those who most need it and to those who can least afford it. The promise of what we as a community of scholars and practitioners can become in this endemic era is paramount. Seeking the resources necessary from partners to solidify an environment where innovation, experimentation, and community are central to Columbia’s mission will be a crucial objective in my service as President.

Our resilient alumni who are leading the charge in creative and impacting ministries. Enhancing our capabilities to celebrate accomplishments and challenges from their scholarship and experience will be essential to bridge both praxis and pedagogy.

Our friends and partners in the region, across the country, and around the globe –residents, business and community leaders, and government officials, to reach our fullest potential, for what we do will be — and must be — a collaboration.

Read the Press Release Announcing Rev. Dr. Victor Aloyo’s Appointment

Columbia Theological Seminary’s presidential search committee and board of trustees are pleased to announce Rev. Dr. Victor Aloyo will become Columbia’s 11th president effective August 1, 2022.

“Victor Aloyo brings a passion for God’s work in the church and the world that resonates with Columbia’s deep commitment to preparing leaders. His experience in congregational ministry equips him to understand the hopes and challenges for local pastors, and his experience at Princeton Seminary prepares him for leadership in theological education,” said Rev. Dr. Millie Snyder, search committee chair, Executive Pastor Myers Park Presbyterian Church, Charlotte, NC and Columbia Board of Trustees member. “I believe Victor Aloyo will lead Columbia to embody God’s vision for our future. Victor conveys an excitement that embodies hope for the role Columbia will have in the church, in the community, and in the world.”

Currently Dr. Aloyo is the associate dean of institutional diversity and community engagement at Princeton Theological Seminary where he is the chief strategist on matters related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Under his leadership, the Seminary developed a Diversity Action Blueprint as a resource for the seminary to establish goals, objectives, and assessment criteria to strengthen multicultural relations across departmental lines, and he initiated and led the seminary’s campus-wide antiracism formational platforms focusing on matters of race, power, privilege, stereotypes, and justice. In addition, through a collaborative effort with a cohort of community leaders and organizers, faith leaders, seminary faculty and students, and administration from area colleges and universities, Dr. Aloyo prepared a Community Engagement Blueprint identifying a “place-based” model for community engagement to support a sustainable approach to urban ministry. Dr. Aloyo is also the organizing and lead pastor of La Iglesia Presbiteriana Nuevas Fronteras, a multicultural community of faith in North Plainfield, NJ, composed of families from twenty-two countries from across the globe. Dr. Aloyo and the church developed a “teaching church” model that witnessed the flourishing of twelve candidates to the ministry and created a field education platform for sixty-two seminarians during his tenure.

” I am drawn to Columbia Theological Seminary because I believe with its long and rich history, it is positioned to serve a vital purpose of leading the theological academy by preparing people for innovative, creative, and substantive leadership. My call to ministry embraces important principles of adaptive leadership, innovation in strategic planning, trust-building, equitable distribution of resources, and access to education,” said Dr. Aloyo. “With the collaboration of trustees, students, faculty, administrators, alumni, community organizers, faith leaders, and donors, I intend to serve to equip the saints for ministry. The vision statement recently approved excites me and it speaks to my passion for continuing to explore and model how God intersects our common call at all levels of the teaching-learning-serving paradigm.”

Dr. Aloyo is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Presbyterian Foundation, Family Promise, the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico, the Muhlenberg Foundation, and Convener of the Covenant Architects Network. He received his Bachelor of Arts in Religious Studies and Sociology from the College of New Rochelle, a Masters of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary, and a Doctorate in Higher Education Administration from the University of Pennsylvania focusing his dissertation on navigating diversity and inclusion within a framework of social justice.

“Victor Aloyo’s pastoral presence and his experience with DEI and leading multicultural communities of faith will help Columbia realize its vision of becoming a community of belonging,” said the Rev. Dr. Jane Fahey, Chair of the Board of Trustees. “He has the skills and experience necessary to guide Columbia toward its third century.”

Columbia Theological Seminary, an educational institution of the Presbyterian Church (USA), commits to educate, equip, and nurture students to become a new generation of pastoral leaders for the church and the world; to become a community that embodies welcome, hospitality, justice, and belonging; to build partnerships that bring vibrant spiritual, cultural, and academic exchanges; and to embrace boldness, enabling us to learn, teach, serve, and live joyfully.

 

 

2 thoughts on “A Q&A With the New President”

  1. Rev. Miriam Shelton says:

    I have known Dr. Aloyo since he was a pastor in New York City. As his career has led him to positions of broader areas of responsibility and higher administrative oversight, he has maintained a full-hearted, personal commitment and passionate energy to the people he serves and to the power of the gospel message. He has much to offer CTS. God bless all the seminary family as you move forward together.

  2. Isaac Abiola says:

    Congratulations Rev. Dr Victor Aloyo.

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