News & Announcements

Dean of Students: Thehil Russelliah Singh

Garrett is delighted to announce Thehil Russelliah Singh is transitioning from her role as Director of International Student Recruitment and Engagement to become the seminary’s new Dean of Students! In her current position, Russelliah Singh has created beautiful programs to improve international students’ academic experience and communal life like the Let’s Talk Globally monthly series, which features international students and friends reflecting on social, political, and theological issues in students’ home countries, or Eliza’s Kitchen and Closet—a free store where students can get clothing and other household items donated by the Garrett community. “I’ve enjoyed being a part of students’ journeys at such crucial points of their lives,” Russelliah Singh says. “To be part of that story for so many different people is deeply gratifying.” We’re thrilled to watch her broaden her passion for our international community into this new role, where she will work to ensure the thriving of all students.

         Russelliah Singh’s enthusiasm for the particularities of students’ journeys makes her uniquely suited to serve as their Dean. “Hearing where people come from, why they feel called to their work, it’s so moving,” she says. “There are so many similarities, and yet they are so different too—different experiences, languages, and cultural backgrounds. It enriches my life to partner with them.” Indeed, the fruits of this commitment are why seminary senior leadership quickly identified her for the job. “Thehil has been leading transformative and innovative work on behalf of the student experience for some time—especially with international students,” Academic Dean Jen Harvey says. “Every initiative she has been part of—including those she conceptualized and implemented start to finish—has moved us meaningfully closer to delivering on our commitments to students and their families.”

         Russelliah Singh’s excitement for this new calling is clear. “We’re in the middle of deep change, not just in theological education but all of higher education,” she says. She points to the dramatic rise in remote learning post-COVID as just one way we’re seeing this shift. Part of how she sees her work is addressing challenges raised by those changes. “How do we build community with commuter students, or with students who will never set foot on Garrett’s physical campus?” she asks. “We have to think creatively about how we enrich their experiences, so they feel like they are also part of Garrett.” Still, she says, strengthening the in-person community that has been core to generations of Garrett students’ experience is also essential. “Let’s grill with the Housing office!” she says with animation. “We can go to the lake or do Field Trip Fridays—there’s so much to see in Chicago. Or for families on campus, let’s have a game night with food and fellowship!”        

 While these activities may be informal in nature, Russelliah Singh reflects that these smaller moments are a core part of the transformative lives to which students feel called. “Theological education is investment in a communal life,” she says. “Students are going to be serving in communities and Garrett life can be a model for the ones they will serve. The community we create here trains better leaders for tomorrow.” This sensibility is part of what distinguishes Russelliah Singh’s approach to administrative work, informed by her own experience in theological education—she has a BD from Gurukul Lutheran Theological College & Research Institute, an MTS from McCormick Theological Seminary, and is currently finishing her PhD in biblical studies at Garrett. “As a scholar, an administrator, and pastor she is perfectly positioned to revamp our critical support structures for students,” President Javier Viera