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Dr. Leanne Van Dyk, President of Columbia Theological Seminary, has announced she will retire in July 2022. She has served the seminary since July 2015.
Throughout her career, Van Dyk has worked tirelessly in the calling of theological education to prepare church leaders for a variety of ministries. Her career spans 29 years, beginning at San Francisco Theological Seminary, then moving to Western Theological Seminary in Michigan before being called to Columbia. Her commitments to theological education are also evident in her key roles in the Association of Theological Schools and various projects and committees of the PC(USA).
Under her leadership, Columbia has largely fulfilled the strategic priorities set by the Board of Trustees in 2017, and realized its Vision 2020 framework, articulated more than a decade ago. This year she started a new visioning process of looking ahead to Columbia’s Third Century that begins in 2029 by leading the development of a new vision and strategic plan that will chart the next chapter for Columbia.
Van Dyk has also taken steps forward to ensure that Columbia is a place that is inclusive and welcoming. She has helped build a more diverse faculty and student body – the 2021-2022 school year saw the school’s first majority minority class of students and the number of faculty of color has increased to now comprise 45% of the faculty. In 2020, she initiated and then worked with Columbia’s Vice Presidents to develop the Repairing the Breach commitment which the Board of Trustees approved. This document names the reality of deep-seated patterns of racism and exclusion that Columbia Seminary participated in and is now determined to collaboratively address for a future of racial justice.
With a belief that online education is not second best and that it should be as relational, participatory, and community-building as residential educational models, Van Dyk has helped Columbia step into the online world with a new MA(TS) degree program. The school is moving ahead to develop additional online degree programs.
“President Van Dyk has led Columbia forward with boldness and courage, and we are grateful that she will continue to be at the helm during the rest of this academic year as we finalize a vision for Columbia’s next chapter,” said the Rev. Dr. Jane Fahey, Chair of the Board of Trustees. “It is a great personal privilege to work as Board Chair with a leader of such integrity and forward-looking vision. She is always willing to take big risks to further our mission of educating and nurturing faithful, imaginative, and effective leaders for the sake of the Church and the world. While I regret that she will not be here to witness the blossoming of all the positive seeds she has planted, I honor her desire to move into her next chapter.”
About Columbia Theological Seminary
Columbia Theological Seminary 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.
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