Dean Fowl Begins New Position

Stephen Fowl headshot

On Thursday, August 3, Dr. Stephen Fowl, president and dean of CDSP, sent this note on the occasion of the beginning of his appointment:

This is my first week as president and dean of Church Divinity School of the Pacific. I am writing to alums and friends of the school to let you know how grateful I am for this opportunity and how excited I am for our common future together

During my interview for this post, I was asked point blank why I wanted to leave my position at a fairly large university to move across the country to a relatively small Episcopal seminary. 

My answer then and now is that I have for many years been aware of the headwinds facing both those engaged in formation for ministry and seminary communities as a whole. I am convinced that pairing robust hybrid learning, formation, and community in students’ local contexts with funded post-graduation curacies is one of the most exciting models to emerge in this challenging climate for theological education and for the Church. I am eager to participate in that mission.

I am also aware that, for the vast majority of CDSP’s 1,500+ living alums as well as thousands of friends and ministry colleagues, a low-residence hybrid model of theological formation is a big change from past experience. I recognize that there are many questions you probably still have about the future shape of CDSP.

Many of those questions simply have not been resolved yet. Some were put on hold until the appointment of a new president and dean. For the most up-to-date published snapshot of our plans, I commend to you the cover story of our most recent Crossings magazine

I want to be in conversation with alums and friends as we continue resolving these questions. I want to hear your perspectives. It is important that we establish strong continuities between the strengths of CDSP’s past and its very bright future. If you are reading this message, you have something to contribute to that endeavor. Stay tuned for more information about how to do so.

As we continue on this path together, let me offer an encouragement from my past 34 years at a Jesuit university. The Jesuit tradition stresses the importance of presuming the goodwill of others whenever possible. In this case, I believe that presumption is well founded. The last several months have convinced me that everyone involved in the leadership of CDSP is committed to its flourishing. We will not always agree on the best way to achieve that goal, but the core commitment is unwavering. 

At the same time, I know that we don’t have all the answers. We will make mistakes, and we will learn from them and adapt accordingly. Thankfully, we are all servants of the God “whose nature is always to have mercy.”

As the summer comes to a close and CDSP looks forward to a new academic year, I ask that you keep our community in your prayers.

With all good wishes,

Stephen Fowl signature (first name)

Dr. Stephen Fowl
President & Dean
Church Divinity School of the Pacific