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Kathryn “Kathy” Mapes, Louisville Seminary’s Academic Support Center Director, dies

Jun 09, 2016

Kathryn “Kathy” Mapes, director of Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary’s Academic Support Center, died unexpectedly June 8, 2016, at her home.

Kathy MapesAsked about Mapes’s importance to the seminary community, Professor Amy Plantinga Pauw reflected on bell hooks’ comment (in Teaching to Transgress) that “to teach in a manner that respects and cares for the souls of our students is essential if we are to provide the necessary conditions where learning can most deeply and intimately begin.” Plantinga Pauw said, “Respect and care for students were at the center of Kathy Mapes’s teaching ministry at Louisville Seminary. She was a great gift to us, and will be deeply missed.”

In 1999 Mapes (pictured) became the founding director of the Louisville Seminary Academic Support Center, a position made possible by a three-year support grant from the Luce Foundation written by Dianne Reistroffer, who was then dean of the seminary. Over the ensuing years, Kathy created and oversaw several programs in support of the work of adult learners coming to seminary: one-on-one and group tutorials in research and writing; summer enrichment English as a Second Language (ESL) programs for international students; assessment testing for incoming students and degree candidates; help with ordination exam preparation and study; and daily meetings with students working on papers.

Additionally, Mapes conducted extensive research on the state of academic support services in theological education and with Reistroffer presented her findings at biennial meetings of the Association of Theological Schools as well as at several other regional and national meetings of theological educators and denominational leaders. Her research on best practices in academic support services in U.S. seminaries was also published in Theological Education (“Equipping the [new diverse] Saints for Ministry,” Theological Education 40:2 (2005): 135-144). Mapes also authored several successful grants to continue the work of the Academic Support Center.

“Kathy was a pioneer in academic support services in theological education,” said Reistroffer, who is now a professor emerita of ministry and Methodist studies. “If ever there was an evangelist for academic support services, it was Kathy. Even though her position was half-time, she was a full-time presence on this campus. She was beloved by students and staff alike. Her expertise in teaching rhetoric and composition and English as a Second Language made her a perfect pick as the seminary’s first director. There are many, many pastors and teachers, chaplains and counselors who are in ministry today because of Kathy Mapes.”

An elder and member of the Middleton Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Mapes brought Disciples of Christ students at Louisville Seminary together for support.  

Mapes also served as the Louisville Seminary representative for the Kentuckiana Metroversity Adult Learners Award, which honors outstanding undergraduate adult and graduate adult learners as well as faculty and staff who support adult learning.

“Kathy believed in the importance of recognizing both the challenges and the successes of adult learners, and was committed to soliciting nominations, selecting the best from among them, and celebrating the recipients’ hard work,” said Louisville Seminary Dean Susan R. Garrett. “She expressed great pride in their achievements, as she did in the achievements of all those she assisted.”

UPDATE: Visitation for Kathy Mapes will be 10am-1pm on Monday, June 13, 2016, at Middletown Christian Church, 500 N. Watterson Trail, followed by a memorial celebration of Kathy's life at 1pm. Burial will be private. See the following link for more information.
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