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President Dean K. Thompson to retire in 2010

Jun 26, 2009
Rev. Dr. Dean K. Thompson announced today that he will retire from the presidency of Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary on August 31, 2010.

Thompson, who will be 66 years old this summer, has served as the Seminary’s eighth president since 2004.

He will be retiring at the conclusion of the Seminary’s current Strategic Plan (2006-2010), which has shaped the tenure of his ministry and leadership as President, “allowing for the next president to fully participate in charting strategic directions for Louisville Seminary and addressing the opportunities of these new and recreative days in theological education for the sake of the Church and the world,” Thompson said.

Speaking on behalf of the Board of Trustees, Board Chair Pamela G. Kidd expressed deep appreciation for Thompson’s contributions to the Seminary:

“Dean Thompson’s forty years of ministry have been characterized by a love for God, love for the Church, love for theological education, and love for the people of God. We are extremely grateful for the pastoral skills President Thompson brought to the position of president at an important time in the life of Louisville Seminary. One of his great strengths has been his ability to articulate in a compelling way the mission of the Seminary to individuals and congregations and to connect both congregations and individuals to the Seminary. He has guided Louisville Seminary through significant challenges, while also helping to initiate programs and opportunities that will continue to distinguish Louisville Seminary as a premier theological institution for pastoral preparation and public leadership.”

Thompson was called to the presidency following 31 years of ministry as a pastor of congregations in Texas, California, and two in the State of West Virginia. During his three decades of pastoral leadership, Thompson also served as a trustee on the boards of two Presbyterian seminaries and as a member of the adjunct faculty at three seminaries. In serving at Louisville Seminary, Thompson has brought a wealth of knowledge and leadership in theological education, which had been shaped by his experiences at other Presbyterian seminaries, through his work with the denomination’s Committee on Theological Education (COTE), and as a participant on three major Lilly Endowment Inc. Consultations on the Pastor as Theologian in the Congregation. Thompson is also co-author of three books, and he has written more than 60 articles on ministry, church history, and theology.

During Thompson’s administration, Louisville Seminary has developed new relationships and fortified existing connections in the Church and in the public and with the Seminary’s major constituents, strengthening the school’s Presbyterian and ecumenical identities. These partnerships have helped President Thompson to lead aggressive scholarship endowment and student enrollment plans, which have attracted exemplary students for preparation in pastoral leadership, chaplaincy, pastoral counseling, teaching and other ministries, many who have been able to accept their first vocational calls with little or no debt.

Over the past five years, Louisville Seminary has added five new professors, roughly one-fourth of the current faculty, who have enhanced the Seminary’s ability to prepare students in the areas of global worship, prophetic preaching, reconciliation and social justice and mercy, and pastoral counseling. These faculty appointments, and the additional appointments of racial-ethnic key administrators, also represent the Seminary’s aggressive response to developing a more diverse and culturally inclusive community.

Louisville Seminary has welcomed 21 new Trustees since 2004; nearly two thirds of the Board is comprised of new members. Under Thompson’s leadership, the Board moved from a non-rotating Board to a rotating model and established an annual full-day Board education structure, focused on developing a deeper understanding of shared governance between the Board, faculty, and administration.

In partnership with the Board of Trustees and the Seminary’s CFO and administration, President Thompson’s leadership has navigated Louisville Seminary through a period of incredible economic challenges while maintaining the financial health of the institution and preserving the Seminary’s ability to carry out its core mission of teaching and learning. During this time Louisville Seminary also completed a three-year project to upgrade the 40-year-old campus infrastructure, which included the addition of new residential apartments; and the renovation of an existing dormitory into classrooms, faculty and program offices, and a student center; ADA renovations; a new wing for the Louisville Seminary Counseling Training Center; and renovated space for the Women’s Center.

Coinciding with its current strategic plan, Louisville Seminary also conducted a year-long marketing study. The final outcome, a new visual identity and marketing platform, is representative of the thoughts, critiques, and affirmations of people from every segment of the Louisville Seminary family and according to Thompson, “may be one of the major unifying events during my presidency.”

With his wife, Rebecca Thompson, President Thompson has enhanced the meaning of hospitality and pastoral care at Louisville Seminary, particularly as they have opened the president’s home as a place of welcome for every segment of the Louisville Seminary family. Their spirit of generosity and hospitality has, as a member of the President’s Roundtable stated, “fueled the family of LPTS to be a welcoming community in Louisville and around the world.”

“Our time of leadership and service, during a pastorally critical period in the life of our beloved school of the Church, has been a tremendous spiritual blessing for Rebecca and me,” said Thompson.

“In the words of I Corinthians 4:1, we, all of us, are called to live and love as ‘servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries’—stewards of God’s overall saving plan for our human race, which has been entrusted to us to study, teach, preach, and confess. As James I. McCord used to remind us, the Church can lose its memory in one generation. Thus, at the heart of Louisville Seminary’s mission is the inspired privilege of passing on our faith to the present and coming generations.

“As a Coventry Cathedral booklet on evensong affirms, we are stepping into a story that began long before we were born and that will continue, by the grace of God, long after we have died and entered into the promises of the great company of heaven.

“Rebecca and I are profoundly honored to have been a part of this sacred story.”

Upon retirement, Dean and Rebecca Thompson will move to their cottage in Black Mountain, N.C., with their three Collie dogs.

Founded in 1853, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary is one of ten theological schools of the Presbyterian Church (USA) and offers an inclusive and diverse community, welcoming individuals from wider ecumenical backgrounds. As its mission statement affirms, Louisville Seminary is called by God through the Church to educate men and women to participate in the redemptive ministry of Jesus Christ in the world.

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