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Historic Promotion of Dr. Ralph Basui Watkins to Full Professor

The First African American Male Full Professor and Endowed Chair in Columbia Theological Seminary’s Nearly 200-Year History 

On June 15, 2020, the Columbia Seminary Board of Trustees unanimously approved the promotion of Dr. Ralph Basui Watkins, MFA, DMin, PhD to full professor. Previously, Dr. Watkins was the first African American male to be installed in an endowed chair when he was named the Peachtree Chair of Evangelism and Church Growth on October 2, 2019.  

“Dr. Watkins is committed to leading the church into the future while not forgetting or abandoning its historical roots.  He is committed to helping the church lead what he calls ‘fully digitally integrated lives’ that embrace both the old and the new,” says Dr. Love Sechrest, Dean of Academic Affairs. “His writing and work have been focused on leading the church into the digital age with a focus on reaching young adults,”  

“I am deeply honored be a part of this great faculty and I especially thank our President, Dr. Leanne Van Dyk, for her leadership,” Dr. Watkins says. “Dr. Van Dyk, along with the leadership of the school have supported me and my work from day one and were committed to supporting my promotion. With her leadership, it happened. I am honored to be a part of a world class faculty, and I am fortunate to serve with each of them”  

Dr. Watkins is a regular preacher and workshop leader for churches, denomination bodies and presbyteries across the United States. He has over twenty-five years pastoral ministry experience, most recently serving as the Senior Pastor of the Historic Wheat Street Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia.  

Dr. Watkins is considered a national leader in digital and online teaching and learning and has led national workshops on the topic of teaching in the visual age. Dr. Watkins’ forthcoming book from Judson Press is The Fully Digitally Integrated Ministry: Integrating the Old and the New. He was the executive producer and host of the television show Religion Roundtable with Dr. Ralph Basui Watkins on the Atlanta Interfaith Broadcasting Network where his show was the top-rated show on the network for five years. 

He is also a leader with the Louisville Institute where he mentors doctoral students. He is on the board of the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion where he writes a monthly vlog / blog, leads workshops, and mentors junior faculty.  

It was under the leadership of the late Columbia Seminary President Dr. Steve Hayner and retired Dean Deb Mullen that Dr. Watkins was brought to CTS from Fuller Seminary in Pasadena, California. While at Fuller Dr. Watkins was the Assistant Dean for African American Church Studies and Associate Professor for Society, Religion and Africana Studies. 

To learn more about the work of Dr. Watkins we invite you to watch the following video: https://youtu.be/UYx_zD6H4Y8 

About Columbia Theological Seminary  

Columbia Theological Seminary’s exists to cultivate faithful leaders for God’s changing world. As the most diverse educational institution of the Presbyterian Church (USA), Columbia Seminary is a community of theological inquiry, leadership development, and formation for ministry in the service of the Church and the world. Columbia offers six masters and doctoral degree programs, and opportunities for continuing education through The Center for Lifelong Learning. For more information, please visit our website: ctsnet.edu.   


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