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Dr. Lallene J. Rector Named President of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary

May 16, 2013

Today, the Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary Board of Trustees unanimously elected Dr. Lallene J. Rector to be the next president of Garrett-Evangelical. Currently serving as the seminary’s vice president for academic affairs and academic dean, Rector will succeed Dr. Philip A. Amerson, who will retire on December 31 after nearly eight years as president. Rector, an extraordinary scholar and practitioner, shares a deep love for the church and possesses the perfect mix of skills, education, experience, and faith to further Garrett-Evangelical’s mission to prepare bold, spiritual leaders for the church, academy, and world.

As the first woman president in Garrett-Evangelical’s 160-year history, Rector will join the seminary’s legacy of remarkable women who have served the institution, including: Eliza Garrett, who founded Garrett Biblical Institute in 1853; Lucy Rider Meyer, the first principal of the Chicago Training School in 1855; Georgia Harkness, the first woman to be named professor of theology in the United States in 1939; and Rosemary Skinner Keller, the seminary’s first female academic dean appointed in 1993.

As the first layperson to be appointed president, Rector will bring a creative perspective to the seminary’s commitment to train bold leaders. She is a person of profound faith and is devoted to theological education in the ecumenical church and the building of strong interfaith alliances. She is a member at First United Methodist Church at the Chicago Temple in Chicago, Illinois. Her background as a United Methodist who brings expertise in pastoral psychotherapy makes her an invaluable asset on the Ministerial Assessment Specialists Advisory Committee on Candidacy and Clergy Assessment for the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. Additionally, she is a convener for the United Methodist Theological Schools academic deans and regularly represents the seminary at denominational conferences.

A search committee of trustees, faculty, and administrators unanimously recommended Rector to the board. In her remarks to the search committee Rector said, “I believe that if Garrett-Evangelical understands itself, first and foremost, as a servant to the church and to the world, then we will not stray far from God’s purpose for us. My own personal call to service, along with my experience in the seminary for the last 27 years, has well prepared me to become the next President.”

In response to the board’s decision, Mr. Jerre Stead, Board of Trustees Chair, said, “I am thrilled with the work of the search committee and their recommendation. When I speak with faculty and administrators at other theological schools, Lallene’s reputation precedes her. She is considered one of the top-tier talent in theological education and we are blessed to have her as president elect.” Stead further shared his confidence that Rector will be a visionary leader advancing the school’s mission.

Rector has been a member of the Garrett-Evangelical faculty for 27 years, with the last seven spent in her current role as academic dean. Some of her more recent achievements at the seminary include developing and implementing the seminary’s strategic plan, chairing the budget reduction task force, initiating curriculum review, and negotiating the seminary’s charter membership in the Seminary Stewardship Alliance.

Her influence at the school can be further witnessed by looking at the student body. Rector is committed to creating a diverse community, which has driven her to develop strong relationships with the Seminary Consortium for Urban Pastoral Education (SCUPE), Advanced Latino/a Theological Education Program, and the Center for African American Studies program. 

Rector’s influence expands far beyond her work at Garrett-Evangelical. Locally, she has convened the academic deans of the Association of Chicago Theological Schools (ACTS) and served as the secretary for the ACTS Common Council. Nationally, she is a member of the Association for Theological Schools (ATS) Advisory Committee for Chief Academic Officers.  Further involvement with ATS includes serving as member or chair of several re-accreditation teams since 2005 and being a panelist or presenter at various ATS meetings and conferences.

Rector’s educational background includes a bachelor of arts in psychology and religion from Texas Christian University, a master of theological studies from Boston University’s School of Theology, and a doctor of philosophy in psychology of religion from Boston University’s Graduate School for the Arts and Sciences. She holds memberships in the American Academy of Religion; has served on the Steering Committee for Person, Culture and Religion Section; and has been a member of the American Psychoanalytical Association and the Chicago Society for Psychoanalysis.

As Garrett-Evangelical celebrates its 160th anniversary in 2013, we give thanks for the outstanding leadership of Philip A. Amerson and look forward to the leadership of President-Elect Lallene J. Rector. In the coming months we will share more news related to how the seminary will honor our 160-year history, the service of President Amerson, and the installation of President-Elect Rector.