Upon the recommendation of Father Joseph Taphorn, rector and vice president of The Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity, and with the approval of Most Reverend Bernard Hebda, archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, St. Thomas President Julie Sullivan has appointed Christopher Thompson, PhD, as dean of The Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity. Thompson will begin his second term as Dean on July 1.
Thompson joined the academic faculty in 2006 as an associate professor of moral theology and served his first term as dean from 2006-2016.
For the past three years, Thompson has lectured and published extensively on the topics of Catholic rural life, integral ecology and Green Thomism, including the publication of The Joyful Mystery: Field Notes Toward a Green Thomism (Living Faith 2017). In addition, he founded and directed the Institute for Theological Research and was co-director of the Murphy Institute, a joint venture of the Center for Catholic Studies and the School of Law. He will be stepping down from these roles to focus on his new position.
In 2018, Thompson was promoted to the rank of professor. This award was based on his fine record of achievement as a teacher and scholar and is a tribute to his contribution to The Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity, the university and the broader academic community.
“After a national search for our next dean, it became increasingly clear that the most qualified candidate was already here within our own faculty,” Fr. Taphorn said. “Dr. Thompson has a keen and creative theological mind, he is committed to this institution, and he has a heart for lay and priestly formation. I am thrilled that he is willing to serve again in this role, and I look forward to working closely with him.”
According to Richard Plumb, executive vice president and provost of the University of St. Thomas, Thompson brings a wealth of institutional knowledge to his new role.
“Having served as co-director of the Murphy Institute and holding faculty appointments in theology, Catholic Studies, and The Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity gives him a unique insight into the university’s academic programs," he added. "I look forward to his joining the deans’ council and future collaborations.”
Thompson is eager for another opportunity to serve the Church in an administrative leadership role.
“The Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity is an example of authentic formation and theological scholarship. I welcome the partnership with the University of St. Thomas as we guide this institution into the future,” he said.
Kenneth Snyder, PhD, interim dean since 2016, has been appointed associate dean beginning July 1. During his tenure as dean, Snyder played a significant role in promoting faculty and establishing the Institute for Catholic School Leadership.
“I am grateful to Dr. Snyder for his administrative service to this institution during a time of significant transition and growth,” Fr. Taphorn said. “His commitment to strong formation and preparation of the laity has further complemented and benefited our seminarians. I am excited that he will continue to serve our faculty, seminarians, lay students and staff as an academic and administrative leader.”
Founded in 1894 by Archbishop John Ireland, The Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity has a twofold mission: as a seminary, to prepare men for ordination to the priesthood of the Roman Catholic Church; and, as a graduate school of theology and ministry, to prepare women and men for service and leadership in the Church and society. Together with Saint John Vianney College Seminary, the seminary and the graduate school comprise The Seminaries of Saint Paul, a national center of formation for seminarians, diaconate candidates, lay ministers, theologians, Catholic school leaders and clergy.