The Rev. Dr. Edwin David Aponte Named Dean of Drew Theological School

Aponte will assume his term on June 1

February 2022 – Drew University has named the Rev. Dr. Edwin David Aponte as the new dean of its theological school. His term will begin on June 1.

Currently, Aponte is the executive director of Louisville Institute in Louisville, Kentucky, where he has achieved great success in missional philanthropy and interdenominational work. Drew Theological School has had a longstanding partnership with the Louisville Institute to support the formation of theological educators by welcoming postdoctoral fellows with visiting professorships at the University. He also serves as a research professor of religion and culture at Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

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The Rev. Dr. Edwin David Aponte

“The Rev. Dr. Edwin Aponte’s experience in higher education and the church will enrich the work of our students and continue the trajectory of success in the Theological School,” said Drew University President Thomas J. Schwarz.

Aponte has a diverse and extensive background in higher education. He served for nearly a decade in the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University, where he was both a tenured professor in Christianity and culture and a director of advanced studies. 

Prior to Louisville, Aponte served as dean and chief executive administrator at Palmer Theological Seminary, vice president for academic affairs and dean of faculty at Christian Theological Seminary, and vice president of academic affairs and dean of the seminary at Lancaster Theological Seminary.

In addition, Aponte has served with the American Association of Pastoral Counselors, the Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools (ATS), the Commission on Accreditation of Marriage and Family Therapy Education, the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs, the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association, and the Middle States Commission of Higher Education (MSCHE). 

Aponte earned his bachelor’s degree from Gordon College, his Master of Arts in Theological Studies from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and his Master of Arts in Religion and PhD in Religion and Society from Temple University.

“Drew Theological School’s distinctive mission, identity, and commitments match with my own calling as a theological educator and administrator. I am honored and excited to be invited to lead the Theological School in this next season of creative, courageous, and contextual theological education that will contribute to the flourishing of church and society in our ever-changing environments,” said Aponte. 

Aponte will succeed the Rev. Dr. Melanie Johnson-DeBaufre, Professor of New Testament, who has served as the interim dean since the Rev. Dr. Javier Viera departed in 2020 to become the president of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. Aponte and Johnson-DeBaufre will work together to enable a seamless transition.

“Drew extends its heartfelt gratitude to the Rev. Dr. Melanie Johnson-DeBaufre for serving as interim dean of the Theological School for the past two years. Through her leadership, Drew Theological School was well-prepared to pivot to remote and asynchronous learning for all students. We are grateful for her leadership and dedication in continuing to grow our school and support faculty and students during this difficult time,” said University Provost Jessica L. Lakin.

As a scholar and educator, Aponte links interdisciplinary, multicultural, ecumenical, and international perspectives while practicing a central characteristic of Latinx theologies, teología en conjunto, with its collaborative methodology of cooperative and shared work.

Aponte’s research and teaching focus on North American religions and cultures, especially on Latinx and African American Christianity. He researches issues of diversity, multicultural and intercultural realities, religion and politics, and connections between race, ethnicity, and religion.

An ordained Teaching Elder/Minister of Word and Sacrament, Aponte has worked collaboratively with the establishment of the Center for Latino Studies and the Institute of International and Cultural Studies at North Park University, as well as the Center for the Study of Latino/a Christianity and Religions at Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University (funded with grants from the Henry Luce Foundation).

Aponte is a widely respected keynote speaker, an accomplished grant writer, and the author of several books and countless chapters, articles, and papers.

“This is a moment of unprecedented change for higher education, and for theological education specifically. I am confident that Drew Theological School will continue to thrive under Dr. Aponte’s leadership as dean,” said Lakin.

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