Leanne Van Dyk named as president of Columbia Theological Seminary

April 20, 2015

Leanne Van Dyk

Leanne Van Dyk —Columbia Theological Seminary

Decatur, GA

The Board of Trustees for Columbia Theological Seminary, a seminary of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), voted unanimously on April 14, 2015, to appoint Leanne Van Dyk as the school’s tenth president. She is currently the Dean and Vice President of Academic Affairs and Professor of Reformed Theology at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Mich. Van Dyk’s appointment is effective July 1, 2015.

Following a nationwide search, Van Dyk succeeds Steve Hayner who began as president in July 2009, but had to step down after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer just one year ago. He died on January 31, 2015. Since that time, the seminary has been led by Deborah Flemister Mullen, the executive vice president and dean of faculty who served as acting president from April till October, and by William E. Scheu who has served as interim president since October.

“Leanne's work has deftly integrated the best of our theological tradition and weekly practices of worship to talk about the importance of Jesus Christ for the church today,” said Charles A. Wiley III, coordinator of the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s office of Theology and Worship. “She's a friend and colleague, and a great selection to lead Columbia Seminary.”

“Dr. Van Dyk is deeply rooted in the Reformed tradition,” stated the Rev. Tom Walker, chair of Columbia’s Board of Trustees and pastor at the Palms Presbyterian Church in Jacksonville Beach, Fla. “From that rootedness comes her commitment to cultural diversity and a proven track record for speaking theologically across cultural and religious boundaries. As evidenced by her significant connections within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and with other denominations as well, she is known for her ability to create close ties with students, faculty, staff and members of the community.”

“Leanne Van Dyk is a thoughtful and gifted theological educator, who understands both how to do theological education and why it is crucial to communities of faith,” added Daniel Aleshire, executive director of the Association of Theological Schools (ATS). “In addition to her years of service at Western Seminary, Leanne Van Dyk has been an active contributor to ATS accreditation and currently serves on the Board of Commissioners. She is a perceptive observer of theological education and deeply understands its complexities and possibilities.”

“Columbia is fortunate to have Leanne as its next president!” said Joseph Small, former director of the PC(USA) Office of Theology and Worship. “She has proven administrative experience, but I always think of her as a fine theologian who has always done her scholarly work in the service of the church. The combination of theological faithfulness, love of the church, and administrative excellence makes her a great fit for Columbia, which has a reputation for quality academic service, done for the church.”

Van Dyk holds degrees from Calvin College (B.A.), Western Michigan University (M.A.), Calvin Theological Seminary (M.Div.) and Princeton Theological Seminary where she earned her Ph.D. in Systematic Theology. Before teaching at Western Theological Seminary, she previously taught at San Francisco Theological Seminary and Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, CA.

Van Dyk’s other professional experience includes serving as a member of the Board of Commissioners of the Association of Theological Schools (ATS); as a member of the advisory committee for a $6 million Lilly grant on new models in theological education; as a member of the Wabash Center's Consultation on Theological Education; and on various projects with the Office of Theology and Worship for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) One of her efforts remembered by many in the PC(USA) was as a member of the Catechism Committee which completed its work in 1998. She also participated in the Re-Forming Ministry project with the Office of Theology and Worship.

She has served on the editorial boards of Perspectives, the Journal of Reformed Thought, and the Scottish Journal of Theology. Van Dyk has published several books, including A More Profound Alleluia: Theology and Worship in Harmony for which she was also editor (Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2005); Believing in Jesus Christ, part of the “Foundations” series sponsored by the Office of Theology and Worship of the PC(USA) (Geneva Press, 2002); and The Desire of Divine Love: The Atonement Theology of John McLeod Campbell (Peter Lang Publishers, 1995).

  1. Great choice! Congratulations to Columbia, to the PC(USA), to Leanna, and to the wider church!

    by Louis Weeks

    April 24, 2015