Faculty Stories

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary Announces Historic Appointment of Rev. Dr. Mai-Anh Le Tran as Vice President for Academic Affairs and Academic Dean

Rev. Dr. Mai-Anh Le Tran

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary announces the appointment of Rev. Dr. Mai-Anh Le Tran as vice president for academic affairs and academic dean, effective August 1, 2019. This is a historic appointment in the seminary’s 166-year history as Tran is the first woman of color to serve as academic dean. This appointment comes after Academic Dean Luis R. Rivera announced in early 2019 that he will be stepping down as academic dean after five and half years of service.

Tran is an internationally recognized leader in theological education, an accomplished scholar, and much sought out for her expertise in pedagogy. She joined the faculty of Garrett-Evangelical in 2017 as associate professor of religious education and practical theology.

“I am delighted that Dr. Tran has accepted our invitation to become the next vice president for academic affairs and academic dean,” said President Lallene J. Rector of Garrett-Evangelical. “The seminary will greatly benefit from her creative collaborative style of leadership, and her mentoring and accompaniment of faculty in their development as effective teachers. We are blessed by the particular gifts she brings at this time in our history.”

Tran, a 2004 PhD alumna of Garrett-Evangelical, held prior faculty positions at Eden Theological Seminary and the Pacific School of Religion. Since joining the faculty at Garrett-Evangelical, Tran’s cross-disciplinary approach to Christian education has complemented the work of her colleagues in imagining creative, emancipatory Christian religious educational leadership and partnerships in the church and the wider community. She has embodied her vocation and ethic as a servant leader among the faculty, taking an active role in department leadership, faculty committees, and the ongoing development of the seminary’s curriculum.

Upon her new appointment Tran said, “I joined Garrett-Evangelical convinced that each member of this seminary body is an earnest, faithful, experienced, impassioned leader-learner who recognizes that we are standing in a kairotic moment. The work that we do here will prepare and challenge us to claim our respective purpose and part in God’s graceful and radical in-breaking. Ultimately, I can say, ‘Challenge accepted!’ because I love this school, I love its people, and I believe in its mission. I step up to this responsibility as co-laborer amongst wonderful colleagues, mindful of the reservoirs of wisdom surrounding me, and committed to making conditions possible for us to live into bold futures.”

Tran holds a doctor of philosophy degree in Christian education and congregational studies from Garrett-Evangelical, a master of religious education from Southern Methodist University, and a bachelor of science from Texas Wesleyan University. She is an ordained elder and member of the California-Nevada Conference of The United Methodist Church. She has traveled to, studied, or taught in over fifteen different countries including Brazil, Cambodia, Indonesia, American and Western Samoa, Kenya, Malaysia, and Germany.

Her research has focused on religion, education, and violence. Her writings delve into the local/global intersections of race, gender, and class in religious identity and practices. A selection of Tran’s writings can be found in the Religious Education Journal, Christians in Education, The New Interpreter’s Bible Pastor’s Bible Study series, Ways of Being, Ways of Reading: Asian American Biblical Interpretation, and Teaching for a Culturally Diverse and Racially Just World. Her latest book, Reset the Heart: Unlearning Violence, Relearning Hope, was published by Abingdon Press in May 2017.

Tran is a member and past president of the Religious Education Association: Association of Professors, Practitioners, and Researchers in Religious Education. She is also an editorial board member for Horizons in Religious Education book series and was consulting editor for the Encyclopedia of Christian Education. She is a member of the Association of Practical Theology, the International Academy of Practical Theology, and contributes to the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion, and the Association of Theological Schools initiatives on faculty development. Her denominational service included a quadrennial term on the Curriculum Review Committee of The United Methodist Publishing House and the District Committee on Ordained Ministry in Missouri.

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, a graduate school of theology related to The United Methodist Church, was founded in 1853. Located on the campus of Northwestern University, the seminary serves more than 450 students from various denominations and cultural backgrounds, fostering an atmosphere of ecumenical interaction. Garrett-Evangelical creates bold leaders through master of divinity, master of arts, master of theological studies, doctor of philosophy, and doctor of ministry degrees. Its 4,500 living alumni serve church and society around the world.