Dr. Colleen Derr ’13 (School of Education) has been named president of Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University. Derr will provide leadership and vision to the seminary, and she credits her time at Regent as being paramount to her preparation for this task.
“Wesley Seminary has grown to a little over 500 students in 10 years,” Derr said. “I will be giving leadership to the vision, connecting externally to other denominations and to pursue partnerships globally, and keeping us on mission for what we are called to do — that means maintaining relational, curricular and financial health.”
Derr has been involved in local church Christian education for over 30 years and has taught in both public and private schools. She received her bachelor’s degree in Christian education from United Wesleyan College, a master’s degree in education from Ashland University in Ohio, and a master’s degree in ministry from Indiana Wesleyan University. She was a children’s pastor for 10 years and served as the director of children’s ministry for the Wesleyan Church.
When Derr was considering a doctoral program, she reached out to Dr. William Cox, the director of Christian Education Programs at Regent. Derr says it was Regent’s willingness to meet her specific needs that convinced her to join the program.
“Regent’s approach to distance learning was excellent,” Derr said. “The faculty invested in me in terms of understanding education, curriculum development, and the philosophy of Christian education as well as excellence in leadership and communication, and all of that together prepared me well.”
While at Regent she was asked to become a faculty member at Wesley Seminary. Since joining the seminary in 2011, Derr has been an assistant dean and is an associate professor. The seminary has students in 34 states and 11 countries. While some programs are face-to-face, the majority are online.
“I was able to glean so many insights from how Regent did online with excellence,” Derr said. “We have adopted that standard and it has been a significant help.”
Derr also says that Regent gave her the ability to be a thinker and a researcher. Because of this Derr has been able to publish in journals and has a book coming out next year.
“The way Regent fully integrates faith and work was so profound for me,” Derr said. “Regent really prepared me to think in terms of the two partnering together in everything we do.”
During her first class, a faculty member made a comment that has gone with her as a gift, which she now shares with others.
“If the Lord has called you to something, your obedience to follow through and do what it takes to succeed is your spiritual act of worship,” Derr relayed. “That frame of mind completely changed how I approached my education and career, and I share it with every new class of students.”
Derr will step into her role as president on July 1.