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University of Dubuque

The University of Dubuque was founded in 1852. It soon became affiliated with the Presbyterian Church and is a Christian institution committed to the Presbyterian/Reformed tradition. Like many mainline Protestant colleges in the United States, the University of Dubuque took a secular turn in the wake of the 1960s. When J. Bruce Meriwether became Acting President in 1996, as the university was facing profound financial difficulties, he summed up the situation claiming, "if we are going to die, we might as well die trying to be who we were created to be." In the following two years the Board adopted a new distinctively Christian Mission Statement and a radical plan to transform the institution. The adoption of this new Mission Statement and engagement of the Plan for Transformation situated the University of Dubuque well for the changing context of higher education in the 21st century: since the late 1990s, student enrollment has increased four-fold and the endowment has increased sixteen-fold. Most importantly, the University is able to more clearly live into its Christian mission, which commits the school to the following:

  • Nurturing a hospitable Christian environment which respects other faith traditions;
  • Relationships which encourage intellectual, spiritual, and moral development;
  • A diverse and equitable community where Christian love is practiced;
  • Stewardship of all God's human and natural resources; and
  • Zeal for lifelong learning and service.

This mission has driven change at the University. Very early in the new millennium, the school, realizing that the demographics of the United States were changing rapidly and that the mission called us to develop the gifts of all, decided to target under-served student populations. While this cut against the popular ambition of seeking ever higher national rankings, it strengthened the diversity, hospitality, and intellectual richness of the campus. Likewise, the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary (UDTS), in response to the changing needs of those called to ministry, was the first Presbyterian Church (USA) seminary to offer fully-accredited online theological education. This moved the seminary from drawing students regionally to a national draw. Developing nimble, mission-driven responses to the current context is part of the culture of the institution.

University of Dubuque Theological Seminary

History and Mission

Theological education was the impetus for the establishment of what is now the University of Dubuque. In 1852, pastor Adrian Van Vliet began a school to serve those called to serve as evangelists and pastors to German settlers pouring into the Midwest. Since 1870, the Seminary has been approved by the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church - now the PC(USA) - as a theological institution of the church. Most of our graduates serve in Presbyterian-related denominations or in the United Methodist Church. Among the PC(USA) seminaries, UDTS is a leader in preparing pastors for ministry in the denomination. Within the United Methodist Church, UDTS graduates serve throughout the surrounding Annual Conferences. We are also enrolling more students whose ministry aspirations are not tied to a formal denominational affiliation.

UDTS is dedicated to forming God's people for servant leadership in ministry and mission. Its mission calls for five responses:

  • Gathering in gratitude and faithfulness, to be reformed according to the Word of God;
  • Growing in the Church's biblical faith in the Triune God;
  • Excelling in theological education and scholarship;
  • Living as faithful stewards of God's Gifts;
  • Engaging the changing needs of the Church and World.

UDTS was an early adopter of low-residency and distance degree programs, beginning in the early 2000's. Seven years ago, following a two-year process of discernment and study, the Seminary answered the question, "If we could invent UDTS from the ground up to address the contemporary missional situation of the church and our context as part of a university, what would we look like?" The result was a radical plan for transformation titled, New Day Dawning. This plan embedded the Seminary within the larger University and called for the development of new ways to provide theological education in the new millennium. The plan was designed to be "both inward focused and outward looking" in that it sought to expand traditional teaching and theological research with other initiatives.

New Day Dawning generated difficult and challenging work, but the transformation has produced fruit. We have been rethinking existing programs to better meet the needs of current students and imagining new approaches to theological education. The new approaches include a series of clergy coaching initiatives that are being developed as part of nearly $2,000,000 in funding UDTS received through the Lilly Endowment's Thriving in Ministry and Pathways for Tomorrow programs. Enrollment in Seminary programs is strong. Overall Seminary enrollment is up 24% from the spring of 2020 to the spring of 2021 and is currently at a ten-year high. Master of Divinity enrollment is up 20% for the same period. However, as we look to the future, serving the church through the formation of local ministry leaders will require the Seminary to look beyond its current offerings and relationships to new models of theological education.

Academic Programs

The Seminary provides a full range of educational opportunities across a spectrum of degree levels.

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  • Commissioned Ruling Elders in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) are trained through a series of online courses designed for laity.
  • Undergraduate students can earn a bachelor's degree in Theology.
  • Master's-level offerings include the Master of Divinity, the Master of Arts in Mission and Discipleship, and the Master of Arts in Christian Leadership (offered through the University's graduate school). In 2007, UDTS became one of a handful of mainline theological institutions accredited by the Association of Theological Schools to offer the Master of Divinity courses via distance education. In 2014 we started offering the Master of Arts in Mission and Discipleship in both distance and residential formats.
  • A vibrant, cohort-based Doctor of Ministry program serves working pastors. Non-credit professional development opportunities are offered in both online and face-to-face formats.

An Embedded Seminary

UDTS is fully embedded into the University of Dubuque. This provides the Seminary with a host of resources beyond the capacity of most theological schools, including a well-equipped and well-staffed library, student support services, an on-campus student health center, and world-class recreation and performing arts facilities. A variety of related academic programs provide opportunities to expand the reach of theological education.

The University provides an outstanding physical environment for learning. Over the last fifteen years, the University has invested more than $200 million in facilities on the main campus. All major buildings on the campus are either new or newly renovated. In addition, the University owns 121 acres of unglaciated land on the Mississippi River approximately 30 minutes from campus that serves as an environmental research and retreat center. The Seminary integrates this resource in every master of divinity student's program academic program through funding provided by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

As importantly, the University setting enables the Seminary to engage the world and the future generation from which Christ's church will be formed. The undergraduate student population at UD is one of the most diverse in the state of Iowa. In many respects, the future face of the church is right here on campus, giving Seminary students and faculty members an opportunity to engage in ministry right on campus.

The University of Dubuque Board of Trustees and President serve as the governing board and Chief Executive Officer of the Seminary, respectively. The Dean of the Seminary reports to the University's Vice President for Academic Affairs, along with the Dean for Undergraduate Studies and the Dean for Graduate and Adult Studies. Seminary faculty are full members of the University faculty and participate in the broader life of the university.

A 12- to 15-person Council of Advisors serves as a source of accountability, advocacy, and advice for the Seminary. This group meets twice a year. A member of the University's Board of Trustees serves on the council as a liaison to Trustees.


Currently, there are 11 full-time faculty members and 12 part-time instructors. Faculty members' tenure ranges from two to over thirty years at UDTS. Approximately one-half have joined the Seminary faculty in the last ten years. The faculty invest in their teaching. They publish and present. They are active in a local church and place a high value on pastoral experience and active involvement in the local church. More information about the faculty can be found at


UDTS has been accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of the Association of Theological Schools since 1938. The school's accreditation was last reaffirmed in February 2015 at a status of "Accredited in Good Standing." The current period of accreditation expires March 31, 2025. UDTS is approved to offer the DMin, MA in Mission and Discipleship, and MDiv degrees.In addition, UDTS is accredited through the University's regional accrediting body, the Higher Learning Commission. Through that accreditation the Seminary supports the Master of Arts in Christian Leadership degree that is offered through the University's graduate program.

Dean of the Seminary Opportunity

Dean Annette Bourland Huizenga will be retiring during the summer of 2022, after 5 years as Dean of the Seminary and 14 years as Professor of New Testament. The next Dean will be joining a vibrant and forward-looking community that is committed to theological education which serves the church of the 21st century. The next Dean will be presented with several opportunities:

The Opportunity to Promote the Principles that Energize the Work of the Seminary

As part of a strategic planning process, the Seminary faculty recently affirmed the following principles to preserve as they move into the future:

  1. To center our work on the person, presence, revelation, and redemptive mission of Jesus Christ, grounded in scripture, and guided by the great creeds, traditions, and practices of the church.
  2. To serve the flourishing of the church and its apostolic mission, by forming leaders as spirit-filled, prayerful disciples.
  3. To form ministry leaders in community, using all of the face-to-face, distance learning tools and pedagogical methods at our disposal.
  4. To balance action and reflection within a coherent theological and curricular framework.
  5. To leverage our position within, and contribute vision and vitality to, the larger University and the Dubuque region to extend the reach of theological education.

In support of the opportunity to promote the principles that energize the work of the Seminary, we are seeking a Dean who:

  • Commits to a gospel-centered life.
  • Brings church-based ministry experience to the positon of Dean.
  • Articulates and advances these principles in their speech and practice.

The Opportunity to Envision the Future of Theological Education

UDTS is unapologetic about envisioning a future that sustains its commitment to the core beliefs and practices of the historic Christian faith. In a context of increased polarization, our goal is to model to the world what God has called the church to be, forming God's people for servant leadership in ministry and mission.

Within our commitment to the historic Christian faith, we see opportunities to reimagine theological education. Initially, these opportunities emerged from the Seminary community as faculty members identified educational needs in the church and developed programs to meet those needs. More recently, opportunities are emerging from outside the Seminary as individuals and groups within the church see what the UDTS faculty is doing and approach us to serve as their educational partner. Currently, we are developing or exploring programs in five areas of opportunity:

  1. Synthesizing the significance of the changes made and experienced at UTDS over the last five years. New Day Dawning brought substantial changes to the form and substance of theological education at UDTS. The impact of some changes is easy to observe and evaluate, such as the positive impact of adjusting the class schedule to serve practicing pastors. But many changes are less obvious, such as the student's understanding of their vocation and the role of community building in student success. We've changed as a faculty, now representing seven denominations among eleven faculty members. While still serving predominately PC(USA) and UMC students, we are receiving more students who identify as non-denominational or interdenominational. They arrive with a sense of a call to ministry, but without traditional denominational supports for vocational discernment, mirroring a larger shift in denominational commitment and fluidity for younger generations. Each of these changes and trends require attentive theological and sociological reflection as the seminary discerns future pathways. We are now far enough into these changes to have meaningful data that will help us both improve the educational experience and solidify our identity as a seminary.
  2. Organizing education around a clergy coaching model. We have a thriving Doctor of Ministry cohort focused on clergy coaching. This program connects us with nationally-recognized programs and partners. These opportunities contribute to our goal of focusing degree programs on the pastoral behaviors, characteristics, and outcomes needed in the church today.
  3. Organizing learning communities of missional practioners. We have recently and successfully established new initiatives and collaborative partnerships with Christian community leaders and organizations in Madison, Wisconsin, a city with no nearby ATS schools, which is located about 90 miles from our campus. We are eager to build on these partnerships and to explore next steps for bringing diverse forms of theological education to the churches of the area. This opportunity contributes to our goals of providing entrepreneurship training for Seminary graduates who endeavor to start new worshipping communities or engage in bi-vocational ministry and creating various avenues for developing theologically-informed professionals.
  4. Developing constituent-driven educational offerings. We have been approached by groups within the two major denominations we serve, PC(USA) and the United Methodist Church, to develop specialized educational programs for their constituents. These groups are looking for a program that draws upon existing UDTS curricula and faculty expertise and that incorporates specialized courses and qualified experts from the constituent group. This opportunity contributes to our goal of focusing degree programs on the pastoral behaviors, characteristics, and outcomes needed in the church today.
  5. Scaffolding degree programs for life-long education. We have expanded our theological education to the undergraduate level and developed flexible and accelerated master's degrees for those students who do not need the Master of Divinity degree in their particular ministry setting. These programs need to be revised to allow for a seamless transition from lay education to undergraduate degree, undergraduate degree to graduate degree, etc. This opportunity contributes to our goals of expanding lay education offerings and creating various avenues for developing theologically-informed professionals.

In support of the opportunity to envision the future of theological education, we are seeking a dean who:

  • Champions a vision for Christian theological education in the 21st century.
  • Articulates UDTS's vision for theological education to a variety of constituencies.
  • Supports the work of the office of University Advancement in cultivating relationships that attract investments of time, talent, and treasure in the work of the Seminary.

The Opportunity to Empower Gifted and Committed Faculty, Staff, and Students

Historically, the Seminary faculty focused their attention on the Master of Divinity program, sharing the responsibility of preparing students for ordained pastorates. Increasingly, as UDTS develops new ways of serving the church, faculty members find themselves with varying degrees of involvement in any given Seminary program. Faculty members are identifying new ways of serving the church through theological education. The new Dean will have the opportunity to help the faculty find points of common calling with their various responsibilities.

As UDTS students now enroll in multiple programs, with varying levels of online learning, the nature of community is changing. The new Dean will have the opportunity to help build new forms of community that transcend geography.

The Seminary's context, embedded in the larger University, presents opportunities both to extend the reach of seminary faculty and staff and to empower qualified faculty and staff across the University to advance the work of the Seminary.

In support of the opportunity to empower gifted and committed faculty, staff, and students, we are seeking a Dean who:

  • Embodies servant leadership in providing administrative leadership to the faculty and staff of the Seminary.
  • Thinks strategically about theological education and the needs of Christ's church.
  • Builds community in both personal and systematic ways.
  • Finds energy in the work of the faculty's work of teaching, research, and service.
  • Understands academic systems and processes, including accreditation and assessment.
  • Administers budgets and grants in support of the work of the Seminary.
  • Models the habits and practices of a spiritual leader.
  • Engages students with the heart of a teacher-pastor.

The Opportunity for Personal Growth

As part of a growing Seminary within a growing University, there are many opportunities for personal growth. The Dean will be part of a larger leadership team with the Academic Affairs division of the University and will have opportunities to contribute beyond the confines of the Seminary's programs.

In support of the opportunity for personal growth, we are seeking a Dean who:

  • Collaborates well with individuals across the University.
  • Seeks opportunities for life-long learning.
  • Desires to be part of the University of Dubuque community and its efforts toward diversity, inclusion, and hospitality.

The Dean will meet the qualifications for appointment to the faculty. Candidates are expected to be conversant with the Presbyterian/Reformed tradition of University of Dubuque Theological Seminary and committed to a multi-denominational and ecumenical expression of theological education. Salary, benefits, and academic rank will be commensurate with qualifications and experience. The Dean of the School of Theology is on a 12-month contract with 4 weeks of vacation. Benefits include health and dental insurance, disability, and life insurance, as well as a generous retirement program. A moving allowance is provided.

Applications and Nominations

To Apply

Please submit the following to or Human Resources, University of Dubuque, 2000 University Avenue, Dubuque, IA 52001:

  1. Cover letter,
  2. Current curriculum vita, and
  3. UD Employment application form (
  4. A confidential review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled.

Applications from qualified persons with diverse backgrounds and cultures, including women and persons of color, are welcomed. AA/EEO

To Nominate a Candidate

Please send candidate information to and or Dr. Mark Ward, Vice President for Academic Affairs, University of Dubuque, 2000 University Avenue, Dubuque, IA 52001.