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An Introduction from Illiff President, Rev. Dr. Lee Butler

Greetings from Denver, the Mile High City located in Colorado! I am the Rev. Dr. Lee H. Butler, Jr., the 17th President and CEO of Iliff School of Theology. I began this new role on September 1, 2023. Along with being the President, I hold the rank of full professor as the Bishop Henry White Warren and Elizabeth Iliff Warren Professor of Africana Pastoral Theology. I am an American Baptist ordained clergyperson serving in executive leadership at a United Methodist theological school.

Iliff School of Theology and DSF share a mutual commitment for preparing religious leaders for ordained and other forms of public ministry. Prior to joining the vision and purpose of Iliff, I served the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) as the Vice-President of Academic Affairs and Academic Dean and the William Tabbernee Professor of the History of Religions and Africana Pastoral Theology at Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, OK, from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2023. I was the first African American tenured full professor and the first person of color to hold the office of VPAA and Academic Dean. I also served Phillips as Acting President during my tenure.

Before Phillips, I was the Distinguished Service Professor of Theology and Psychology at Chicago Theological Seminary (CTS), a seminary affiliated with the United Church of Christ (UCC). I joined the CTS faculty as assistant professor of theology and psychology in 1996. In 2006, I was promoted to the rank of full professor and became the first African American to achieve this rank at CTS. In 2017, I was installed in an endowed academic chair. I was a former director of the CTS Master of Divinity program, a former Acting Vice-President for Academic Affairs and Academic Dean, and the founder of the Center for the Study of Black Faith and Life at CTS. With a significant number of Disciples churches in Chicago, and the official relationship between the DOC and UCC, CTS was home to many Disciples theologues. Furthermore, being across the street from the Disciples Divinity House at the University of Chicago, I also taught and mentored a number of Disciples students through the years.

Theological education is leadership formation for persons called to be faithful witnesses. I am delighted that Iliff maintains a covenantal commitment with the DSF. I bring my experiences and commitments of partnering with the DOC to my leadership at Iliff. We covenant together to encourage ministries that will transform society for justice and the common good. This also means supporting students through the rigors of degree work to know intimately the meaning of doing justice and loving mercy.  Thank you for our partnership! 


Rev. Dr. Lee Butler received his Ph.D. and Master of Philosophy in Psychology and Religion from Drew University. He holds a Master of Theology in Pastoral Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, a Master of Divinity with a concentration in Pastoral Care and Counseling from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary (now Palmer Theological Seminary), and a BA in Religion from Bucknell University.


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