The fall semester for Drew Theological School started on a very good note. We enrolled 80 masters students, 13 Ph.D. students, and 51 D.Min. students. Our masters students represent an increase of 10% over last fall. Our enrollment and retention remain healthy. Drew continues to draw excellent and diverse students as we grow in size and strength.
Just when we thought we might enjoy a disaster-free semester, we were visited with great force by Hurricane Sandy. I know that many of you in the northeast in one way or another have been impacted by Sandy. There was significant devastation, particularly to the trees in our beautiful Forest. We were fortunate at Drew and in Madison in that we had less rain and no flooding. Nonetheless, the devastation was significant with downed trees and power lines.
We learned a lesson from last October’s winterstorm. On Tuesday, when power went down, many trees had fallen and the temperature was dropping, we made the decision to evacuate all our Theo and Grad students from Tipple, Wendel, and the Townhouses. Many of our students and their families went to stay with friends and family. Through Dr. Tanya Bennett, we were able to contact Chatham UMC, and Rev. Dr. Rich Knox immediately opened up his church campus as a shelter for us. We brought more than 60 people there. On Wednesday, the new Bishop of the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference, Bishop John Schol and his wife Beverly stopped by to visit the students. We knew that many people were thinking and praying for us and we are grateful!
Over the summer, our Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Dr. Morris Davis and I had the privilege to be invited to participate in the inaugural Appenzeller Memorial Conference at the Chungdong First Methodist Church in South Korea on June 9-12. Dr. Se-Hyoung Lee, M.Div. and Ph.D. Drew alumnus is the pastor of the English ministry in this church. Incidentally, two of Dr. Lee’s sons are now enrolled in the M.Div. program at the Theological School. This was a conference to commemorate the 110th anniversary of the death of Henry G. Appenzeller, a Drew alumnus of 1885, who became that same year the first Methodist missionary to Korea. Dean Davis presented an academic paper, while I preached at a worship service. Out of this conference, a Drew theological scholarship was established by Chungdong First Methodist Church. Dr. Davis and I also attended the morning prayer service at Myungsung Presbyterian Church, the largest Presbyterian Church in the world, where two of our alumni, Dr. Hana Kim and Dr. Eunsung Park, are on the pastoral staff.
On August 27, I was invited to deliver the congratulatory remarks at the installation of the new President, Dr. Jong-Chun Park, of Methodist Theological University in Korea. MTU has long ties with Drew and many of our alumni have taught in this leading theological institution. A good number have even served as presidents of the university, including the immediate past president, Dr. Hong-Ki Kim. This is an historic tie that we continue to nurture as we continue to receive many students from MTU into all our programs at the Theological School.
Then on October 12, I had the honor of delivering the Willson Lecture at the meeting of the Board of Directors of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. I talked about my vision of United Methodist higher education and theological education and the role that the Theological School continues to play. Delivering that lecture reminded me yet again of the privilege of serving as the Dean of the Theological School!
Wishing you and yours peace and health in the wake of the storm,
Kah-Jin Jeffrey Kuan, Ph.D. 關嘉仁博士