President Cynthia Campbell announces plans to retire


Dr. Cynthia M. Campbell, President of McCormick Theological Seminary, announced today at the annual spring meeting of the Board of Trustees her intention to retire from that position on or before December 31, 2011.

Upon stepping down, Campbell will assume the title of President Emerita. Addressing the board, 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.”

Campbell, the longest current-serving president of the 10 seminaries associated with the Presbyterian Church (USA) and the first woman to hold that position in a Presbyterian seminary, began her presidency at McCormick on January 1, 1995. “My goals for the next months are to begin implementation of the plan the Board has approved to expand programs designed to serve new leadership needs in the church,” Campbell stated, “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,” commented 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.”

John Buchanan, senior pastor of Chicago’s Fourth Presbyterian Church, one of the largest Presbyterian congregations in the country, 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.

Cynthia M. Campbell became the ninth president of McCormick Theological Seminary in 1995. During her tenure, Campbell led the largest and most successful capital campaigns in McCormick’s history that provided for the renovation of McCormick’s student housing facilities and the building of a new administration building.

A native of Pasadena, California, Campbell earned her undergraduate degree at Occidental College, her masters of divinity degree from Harvard University, and her Ph.D. from Southern Methodist University. She was ordained by the Presbytery of San Gabriel on June 30, 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, Kansas, one of the first large congregations in the denomination to call a woman as head of staff.

Within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Dr. 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.).

About McCormick Theological Seminary
Founded in 1829, McCormick Theological Seminary is one of ten theological institutions associated with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). Part of the Reformed Tradition is an ecumenical commitment and openness to dialogue with other perspectives within the larger Christian Tradition. Nearly 40 percent of McCormick’s student body comes from traditions other than Presbyterian. Included are Pentecostal and evangelical students as well as those from Baptist and Methodist churches. Common to all our students is an openness to one another that is rooted in a shared faith in Jesus Christ. Holding membership in the Association of Chicago Theological Schools (ACTS) and associated with the University of Chicago, McCormick is an integral part of one of the world’s great centers of theological education and research.