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José R. Irizarry called as Austin Seminary’s Tenth President

The Austin Seminary Board of Trustees, at a called meeting on June 27, elected the Reverend Dr. José Ramon Irizarry as the Seminary’s next president.

Reflecting on conversations with [Rev. Dr. Irizarry], Board Chair Keatan King recalled, “Dr. Irizarry lifted up the distinctive gifts of our seminary and gave voice to a hopeful vision of theological education for our time. For José, listening isn’t simply a best practice of leadership; it is his spiritual gift—one he has honed in his personal practice of contemplative prayer. José Irizarry will lead Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary by listening to all members of the community to hear God’s dreams, already emerging within us, so he can guide us in reaching our potential.”

Since 2016, Irizarry has served as Vice President of Education at the Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). A scholar in the field of practical theology, Irizarry teaches at Villanova University and has held teaching and administrative positions at various educational and theological institutions including The University of Cambridge (Visiting Fellow), Lutheran School of Theology, the Pacific School of Religion, and McCormick Theological Seminary.

Out of his expertise as a bilingual educator, Dr. Irizarry directed Cambridge College’s regional campus in his native San Juan, Puerto Rico, (2011-2015) and served as academic dean, acting president, and held The Limardo Chair in Practical Theology at the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico (2007-2011). He earned degrees from the University of Puerto Rico (BA), McCormick Theological Seminary (MDiv), and Northwestern University (PhD) as well as professional certifications from the Universitá per Stranieri di Perugia, Italy, Boston College, and Cornell University.

Supporting his work in the field of religious education and intercultural relations, Irizarry has traveled internationally to lead seminars and conferences and to conduct research. He has chaired academic accreditation teams in the US and Puerto Rico and served as president of the Religious Education Association in the United States and Canada. An ordained minister in the PC(USA), he has served the church as member of the Review Committee of the Whole (assessing the work of all agencies of the Presbyterian Church) and on the Committee on Theological Education. He was also a member of the Board of Directors of the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation (Westminster John Knox Press, Geneva Press) for eight years and is currently a Trustee at Columbia Theological Seminary. He served interim pastoral positions at Presbyterian and inter-denominational congregations in Puerto Rico and the US.

The Reverend Dr. Jill Duffield (DMin’13), who served on the Presidential Search Committee, said, “After our conversation with Dr. Irizarry, I kept returning to a question he posed to us: ‘Who needs theological education?’ His instinct and commitment to begin with people rather than program, opportunity rather than challenge, invited imagination and creativity. We began to consider new possibilities. This simple question has profound implications not only for what we do as a theological institution, but for who we are as a community of believers. I can’t wait to see how the Spirit will answer this question under Dr. Irizarry’s leadership.”

The Reverend Dr. José Irizarry is married to Mildred (Milly) Del Valle, a speech pathologist and ruling elder, and they are parents to three young adults currently engaging undergraduate and graduate studies: Yuyza (23), Darien Farel (21), and Abayomi Nicola (18). He will begin his tenure with Austin Seminary on August 22, 2022.

 

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