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Columbia Theological Seminary announces inauguration of new president

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Columbia Theological Seminary announces inauguration of new president

Rev. Dr. Victor Aloyo will serve as the 11th president of Columbia Theological Seminary. Photo courtesy of Columbia Theological Seminary.

Decatur, GA — Columbia Theological Seminary has announced the inauguration of its 11th president, the Rev. Dr. Victor Aloyo. He is the first minority president in the institution’s 194-year history.

Inauguration events include a Symposium entitled “Forming Christian Leaders in the Endemic Era” on Friday, Nov. 11. Panelists will discuss higher education strategies for seminaries navigating periods of uncertainty in society, church and the world, according to a press release.

The installation ceremony will be on Saturday, Nov. 12.

Before becoming the president of Columbia Theological Seminary, Aloyo was the associate dean of institutional diversity and community engagement at Princeton Theological Seminary. He was the Organizer and Lead Pastor of La Iglesia Presbiteriana Nuevas Fronteras.

He received a 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, where his dissertation focused on navigating diversity and inclusion within a framework of social justice.

Aloyo is stepping into the position after Columbia Theological Seminary was in the middle of a controversy in June over how it treats students and staff of color.

The latest controversy stemmed from the unexpected firing of Rev. Samuel White III, a Black administrator who served as Director of Admissions and Recruitment. CTS fired White and notified the campus community via email on June 21, the day after the Juneteenth holiday was observed.

When asked for comment, a spokesperson for CTS said, “Columbia Theological Seminary is sensitive to students concerns over the departure of Rev. Samuel White. However, it was a carefully considered decision and out of respect for the privacy of all current and former employees and consistent with our policies, we do not comment on personnel matters. We are confident we’ve stayed true to our mission to nurture faithful and effective leaders as well as conduct school business in a forthright and equitable manner. For the record, the institution enjoys a diverse faculty, staff, and students, and we remain committed to delivering the same excellent educational opportunities for which Columbia Theological Seminary is known.”

This isn’t the first time the seminary has faced questions about how it treats students of color. In 2019, CTS students protested after the seminary closed the Office of International Programs, which serves international students.

On Thursday, June 23, members of the seminary’s African Heritage Student Association held a press conference and outlined the steps CTS should take to address their concerns. The school’s enrollment is now majority-minority, with 60% of students identifying as persons of color.

The students wanted Leanne Van Dyk, who planned to leave at the end of July, to resign as president effective immediately and wanted Jane Fahey to resign as chair of the school’s Board of Trustees. The students wanted the seminary to rehire White, and to create an independent advisory board overseeing the president’s council. When Dyk left, the plan was she would be replaced by a person of color, Rev. Dr. Victor Aloyo. Members of AHSA worried he would be undermined by the current administration before he takes over.

Editor and Publisher Dan Whisenhunt contributed to this article.

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