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The Rev. Dr. José R. Irizarry to become Austin Seminary’s 10th president

Now a vice president at the Board of Pensions, Irizarry will begin his new duties on Aug. 22

by Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary | Special to Presbyterian News Service

The Rev. Dr. José Irizarry

AUSTIN, Texas —The Austin Seminary Board of Trustees, at a called meeting on Monday, elected the Rev. Dr. José Ramon Irizarry as the Seminary’s next president.

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.

Reflecting on conversations with the candidate, Board Chair the Rev. 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.”

Out of his expertise as a bilingual educator, Irizarry directed Cambridge College’s regional campus in his native San Juan, Puerto Rico from 2011-15 and served as academic dean, acting president, and held The Limardo Chair in Practical Theology at the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico from 2007-11). 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.

As a scholar 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 United States 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 a 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 interdenominational congregations in Puerto Rico and the U.S.

The Rev. 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.”

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 Aug. 22.

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