Union Theological Seminary Appoints First Woman President

Union Theological Seminary in New York City selected its first woman president in its 172-year history, the school announced Monday.

Dr. Serene Jones was selected to become the 16th president to succeed Dr. Joseph C. Hough, Jr., who is retiring after serving as Union's president since 1999. Jones will assume the presidency of the independent, non-denominational seminary on July 1, 2008.

"Dr. Jones's exceptional leadership style and distinguished scholarship make her the ideal person to lead this vibrant theological institution, which has been home to notable scholars Reinhold Niebuhr, Paul Tillich, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer," David Callard, chairman of the Seminary's Board of Trustees said, in a statement.

"With Dr. Jones's vision and commitment, Union is positioned not only to continue its role as a leading institution of theological education but also to be a strong voice at a time when religion, with all its pluralistic manifestations, has become an increasingly powerful and divisive issue."

Jones, the Titus Street Professor of Theology at Yale Divinity School, will come to Union after serving for 17 years on the Yale faculty. Currently, she is also chair and faculty member of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Yale University. Jones has also held faculty appointments at Yale Law School and in the Department of African American Studies and Religious Studies.

A popular scholar and author in the field of religion and gender studies, Jones has published 37 articles and book chapters since 1991 as well as a long list of professional papers.

"In the intellectual Christian world, Union Theological Seminary has long held a preeminent position shaping not only American religious life but its cultural and political values as well." Jones said. "At the present historical moment, in North America and globally, Union stands ready to assume this role with renewed vigor, intellectual acuity and abiding faith."

She added, "With its outstanding faculty and student body and a location in New York City, Union is wonderfully positioned to be the hub for building and sustaining religious and political dialogue and partnerships. I look forward to being part of this exciting community, whose future promises to outshine even its past."

Jones earned her M.Div. from Yale Divinity School (1985) as well as her Ph.D. in theology from Yale University (1991). She holds a B.A. from the University of Oklahoma (1981) and is an ordained minister in both the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ.