Seabury dean and president heads to Michigan rectorship; interim appointed[Episcopal News Service] The Very Rev. Gary Hall, currently dean and president of Seabury-Western Theological Seminary, is leaving the school to become rector of Christ Church Cranbrook in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
Robert G. Bottoms, chair of Seabury's board of trustees, made the announcement November 16. Bottoms will become Seabury’s interim dean and president from January 1, 2010 until June 30, 2011. He retired in July 2008 after 22 years as president of DePauw University.
"This call is a homecoming for Gary and Kathy, who began their married life at Christ Church Cranbrook when Gary was its associate rector from 1978-1981," Bottoms said in his announcement about Hall.
Hall came to Seabury in 2005 and Bottoms called the couple's service to the Evanston, Illinois-based seminary "invaluable."
"Under Gary's leadership, Seabury has undertaken a journey of discernment that has resulted in our vision of being an educational community, grounded in the Baptismal Covenant, that proclaims the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the church and the world," Bottoms said. "Now Seabury is embodying our vision by becoming what's next in a seminary."
In a series of decisions in late 2007 and early 2008, Seabury said that it would stop offering a traditional residential master of divinity degree, which at one time had been the norm in Episcopal seminaries. In July of this year, it sold its property to its neighbor, Northwestern University, for $13 million. Seabury since has entered into a joint doctor of ministry degree on congregational development with Church Divinity School of the Pacific (CDSP) in California.
Seabury now offers a diploma in Anglican studies, consisting of eight courses and designed for people preparing for ministry in the Episcopal Church who are not attending an Episcopal seminary full time. The courses combine online work with on-campus classes in an intensive format that includes worship and formation. CDSP has offered online education for many years, and Episcopal Divinity School (EDS) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, has increased such offerings as well.
"Our robust program of theological education includes single classes, diplomas and doctoral degrees as well as events, programs and classes for intellectually serious church leaders, seminarians, and pilgrims and seekers," Bottoms said in his Nov. 16 announcement. "As we become an innovative 21st century seminary that embodies generous Christianity, our education is rooted in the Episcopal tradition and presented with academic rigor."
Bottoms said Hall's departure "comes at a time of natural transition," saying Seabury has a "healthy financial position and energetic faculty and staff working to implement and realize our strategic plan."
Bottoms also serves on the board of the Joyce Foundation in Chicago and has been a consultant to the Lilly Endowment, the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations and the Fund for Theological Education. His career in higher education began when he was appointed chaplain and assistant to the president at Birmingham-Southern College, according to a release from Seabury. He was later assistant dean and assistant professor of church and ministry at Vanderbilt Divinity School. In 1978, he became vice president for university relations at DePauw; he also held the post of executive vice president there before being named president in 1986.
"We could not ask for a more dedicated and qualified leader to serve Seabury in this transition. On behalf of the entire executive committee," said Anne Lea Touhy, vice chair of Seabury's board of trustees, in a second Nov. 16 announcement. "I am deeply grateful to Bob for his leadership and commitment to Seabury’s vision of being what’s next in theological education."» Respond to this article