Seminary Dean Steps Down at Andrews University, Speculation Results
by AT News Team
Dr. Denis Fortin has announced that he will return to full time teaching at the end of the current academic year. He has served as dean of the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University for the last six years and associate dean prior to that.
In a statement released this week by the university, Dr. Fortin said, “For personal and professional reasons, I have come to the conclusion that after serving in academic administration for the better part of the last 14 years … it is time for me to take a break. I have therefore asked … to return to full-time teaching in the Department of Theology and Christian Philosophy.”
The seminary “has been very well served by Dr. Denis Fortin, both as a professor … and dean,” the release quoted Dr. Niels-Erik Andreasen, university president. “I am happy to note that he will return to his first love: teaching Seminary students. We are delighted to welcome him back full-time to the faculty.”
The seminary has grown to become one of the largest of any faith in the United States, despite the fact that both Southern Adventist University and La Sierra University also operate competing graduate school programs for clergy. The Andrews seminary not only prepares pastors for the Adventist Church in North America, but also educates faculty for college and university religion programs and trains church administrators for the global Adventist movement.
Adventist Today has been told that there is speculation among the faculty and denominational leaders about Dr. Fortin’s announcement. “What are the real reasons for his decision?” one person who refused to be identified in any way, even anonymously, told Adventist Today. He has published articles documenting the support that Ellen White and other denominational founders expressed for women serving as pastors and with the current controversy about ordination, some speculate that General Conference (GC) leaders may feel more comfortable with a different person in this crucial role.
“A search committee will be established, overseen by President Andreasen, to identify Dean Fortin’s successor,” the university’s news release states. “The search committee will include representation from the Seminary faculty, Andrews University administration and Seventh-day Adventist Church leadership.” It is unclear if the denominational leaders will be from the North American Division or only the GC.
Dr. Fortin joined the seminary faculty in 1994 after serving as a pastor in Quebec, Canada. He is the author of a book about the early history of the Adventist movement in Quebec, an area where the vast majority of the church membership is among immigrants from the Caribbean and French-speaking nations in Africa. The Adventist Church has been slow to win significant numbers of native-born Quebecois.