News & Announcements

Jen Harvey Appointed New Dean of Garrett

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary is pleased to announce that the Rev. Dr. Jennifer Harvey has been appointed the new vice president for academic affairs and academic dean, effective August 1, 2023.

“Garrett’s faculty are among the most dynamic and highly respected in the academy. This, combined with its commitment to liberationist ways of approaching every aspect of theological education, leave me thrilled to be joining the Garrett community,” said Harvey. “Our nation and world need strong educational institutions characterized by high integrity leadership, an unwavering vision for justice and a message of hope—as they cultivate these same qualities in their students. I am so grateful for the opportunity to become part of a team committed to continuing to grow Garrett as precisely such an institution.”

Poised to lead at this critical juncture, Garrett stands amidst tremendous shifts taking place across the church and the global religious landscape, as well as in the emergence of numerous challenges and opportunities that face institutions of higher learning.

“Garrett is at a crucial inflection point in its history, an incredibly creative and potentially transformative moment in a distinguished 170-year trajectory,” President Javier Viera said. “Dr. Jennifer Harvey has proven that she has the scholarly, administrative, and prophetic skills to lead our educational enterprise with fresh perspective and bold ambition. A highly respected author and scholar, and a supremely gifted administrator and leader, Jen will bring creativity, integrity, and rigor to the role of dean. I am thrilled to welcome her, look forward to our partnership, and know we are fortunate to have her in leadership at Garrett.”

Harvey has served for nearly 20 years at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, first as visiting professor in the university’s religion department, eventually achieving full professor status, and then as associate provost for campus equity and inclusion for the past three years. She is ordained in the American Baptist Churches (USA).

Harvey is a writer and educator long engaged in racial justice and white antiracism. Her books include the NYT bestseller Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in Racially Unjust America and Dear White Christians: For Those Still Longing for Racial Reconciliation. Her next book, Antiracism as Daily Practice: Refuse Shame, Change White Communities and Help Create a Just World, will be out in summer 2024. She has written for the New York Times and CNN, appeared on CNN’s Town Hall on racism with Sesame Street, and been heard on NPR’s All Things Considered and It’s Been a Minute with Sam Sanders.

This appointment comes after an international public search and the diligent work and prayer of the Dean’s Search Committee—“a labor of love, whose efforts have secured a first-rate scholar and administrator to join the Garrett community,” said President Viera. The Committee included chair Javier Viera, Tasha Mitchell (student representative), Vince McGlothin-Eller (staff representative) and faculty members AHyun Lee, Gennifer Brooks, Kate Ott, Ron Anderson, and Brooke Lester.

“Jennifer exudes energy and excitement that connects well with the exciting new ventures that are part of our strategic plan,” Brooks said. “She’s a welcome addition to the community. I look forward to working with her.”

Mitchell added her enthusiasm to Harvey’s appointment: “[Harvey] brings excitement, experience, personality, genuine passion, and a fresh perspective to this role as academic dean,” she said. “She is personable and approachable, and I believe she has the temperament to establish great working relationships with faculty, staff, students, trustees, and community partners.”

During her tenure at Drake, Harvey helped launch the Crew Scholars program, and for nearly a decade served as its faculty director. This incredibly successful program dramatically reduced racial disparities in Drake’s student experience and built a supportive community for students of color who are now graduating from the university at a rate of 90 percent. Under her leadership, the program tripled in size, reaching 75 first-year Crew Scholars in the 2022–23 academic year.

Her dedication, service, and scholarship at Drake earned high praise and recognition, including the Madeline M. Levitt Mentor of the Year award in 2009, Stalnaker Lecturer in 2017, and Centennial Scholar in 2018.

“In her nearly two decades with Drake, Jen has had an unwavering commitment to building meaningful connections through healing conversation and compassionate education,” said Drake University’s Provost Sue Mattison. “Her gift to us and legacy to Drake is a more inclusive, informed, and vibrant campus. In difficult situations, Jen acts with authentic integrity and speaks the truth clearly.”

She and her co-parent, Chris, are raising two teenagers—Harper and Emery—who, according to Harvey, “teach her something important every single day.”

Harvey takes over the Garrett deanship from Dr. Mai-Anh Le Tran, who has faithfully served in theological education for 20 years and in the dean’s role for the past four years. Tran came to Garrett in 2017 as associate professor of religious education and practical theology, and previously served as associate professor of Christian education and acting administrator of contextual education at Eden Theological Seminary (2008–2017), and as assistant professor of religious education and Asian American cultures at Pacific School of Religion, Graduate Theological Union (2003–2008). Starting August 1, 2023, Tran is entering sabbatical for the year with the hope of retracing the transnational itineraries of Vietnamese refugee communities for clues on religion and education in postcolonial, diasporic spaces.

“As Garrett stands firmly within a generative nexus of faithful legacy and courageous future and begins to realize its strategic vision of being an ever-verdant ecosystem for transformative theological learning and formation in and with multiple publics, the Seminary will be blessed by the clarion voice of scholarship and public conscience of Dr. Jennifer Harvey,” said Tran. “Her seasoned praxis as author, teacher, public speaker and educator exemplifies the kind of bold academic leadership that Garrett values, and her commitment to resourcing communities for their work of creating ‘robust, sustainable, multi-racial solidarity for justice’ is exactly what we need for theological education today. I extend very best wishes to Dean Jennifer Harvey.”

Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, a graduate school of theology historically affiliated with 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.