The Rev. Cynthia M. Campbell, president of McCormick Theological Seminary and the longest-serving president of the 10 seminaries associated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), has announced her intention to retire from that position on or before Dec. 31, 2011.

Campbell, who became the first woman PC(USA) seminary president when she began her tenure at McCormick on Jan. 1, 1995, will assume the title of President Emerita when she concludes her service.

Announcing her retirement to the seminary’s board of trustees May 14, Campbell said, “It is with deep gratitude to God for the opportunity I have had to serve as President of McCormick Theological Seminary, that I announce my intention to retire. One of the characteristics of strong institutions is to plan and prepare carefully for transitions in leadership, and it is clear to me that now is the right time for McCormick to enter its next chapter.”

She said her goals for the remainder of her term are “to begin implementation of the plan the board has approved to expand programs designed to serve new leadership needs in the church and to raise funds to support these exciting new initiatives.”

“Cynthia has been a remarkable leader for McCormick, and we are so thankful for her many accomplishments during the past 15 years. Building upon the great legacies of her predecessors, she truly has helped shape and define what McCormick is today — a leader in cross-cultural theological education,” said John L. Anderson, chair of McCormick’s board of trustees.

Anderson also noted, “Cynthia has led with strength, foresight, devotion, and an unyielding faith in God, the church, and McCormick’s mission of preparing women and men for ministry and leadership in the church. With extraordinary compassion and determination, she recently led us through the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression and put us in a position now to look boldly toward a lasting future. McCormick is an exceptional seminary today, and Cynthia has left an indelible mark on this institution and upon all of us who have had the privilege to serve with her. We gratefully look forward to continuing our work together in the year ahead.”

The Rev. John Buchanan, pastor of Chicago’s Fourth Presbyterian Church and a former McCormick board chair said, “I have known and worked with Cynthia Campbell for more than 20 years. Her steadfast leadership, innovative scholarship, and keen intellect are well known throughout and beyond the world of theological education. Fourth Church has long had a special bond with McCormick Theological Seminary and I consider it one of the great privileges of my own ministry that I have been able to work and serve with Dr. Cynthia Campbell.”

The board of trustees will elect a presidential search committee that is expected to begin its work this summer.

A native of Pasadena, CA, Campbell graduated from Occidental College, earned her Master of Divinity degree from Harvard University, and her Ph.D. from Southern Methodist University. She was ordained by the Presbytery of San Gabriel in 1974 and served three congregations in Texas prior to joining the faculty of the Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary where she served as associate professor of theology and ministry from 1981-1988.   In 1988, she became pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Salina, KS, one of the first large congregations in the denomination to call a woman as head of staff.

Within the PC(USA) Campbell has served on numerous task forces and committees, including the Special Committee of Fifteen, which prepared the final text of the Brief Statement of Faith approved by the denomination in 1990, the General Assembly Council, the Special Committee on the Consultation on Church Union and the Committee on Theological Education.  She also served as the President of the Association of Theological Schools, 2004-2006.

In addition to contributing essays to volumes such as Feasting on the Word, she is author of A Multitude of Blessings: A Christian Approach to Religious Diversity (Westminster John Knox, 2007) as well as a monograph, Theologies Written from Feminist Perspectives, published by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).