Brilliant administrator, encourager, problem solver, champion. Such are the some of the words used to describe School of Theology Dean Howard Loewen, who retired on June 30, 2014, after serving for 13 years in this key role.
During a period of complex change in the field of theological education, “Howard has always had an attentiveness and openness to what is possible,” says Mark Lau Branson, Homer L. Goddard Professor of the Ministry of the Laity. “He is a consistent listener and always clarified the work we needed to do, provided support amidst the risks, and let us know that he was with us.”
Before joining Fuller in 2001 as dean and professor of theology and ethics, Loewen -- a native of British Columbia -- taught and published in the field of theology for three decades, most recently having served as provost of Fresno Pacific University and academic dean of the Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary.
At Fuller, he capably led the seminary’s largest and oldest school with insight, sensitivity, and a clear-eyed assessment of both reality and possibility. “At any given time,” says Provost Doug McConnell, “Howard could give the best explanation of where we were as an institution. Time and time again, he was able to clarify very complex situations with credibility” – and, many others note, see those complex situations as opportunities for innovation.
Under Loewen’s leadership, three School of Theology initiatives – Urban Initiatives, Just Peacemaking, and, most recently, the Asian American Initiative – were launched. New degree and certificate programs have included the MA in Theology in Ministry, Certificate in Anglican Studies, and a growing number of emphasis options that enable students to engage in more focused study in their area of interest.
Perhaps even more important than his academic and administrative leadership, however, has been Loewen’s role as a listener, encourager, and bridge builder. “Howard treats every single person who walks through his door as an equal,” stresses Abigail Cook, his executive assistant. Whether student, faculty, or staff, with whatever struggles or challenges they bring, “they almost always walk out of his door with a smile on their face. He handles every situation with grace and a captivating sense of calm.”
An alum himself, Loewen completed his MDiv and PhD in historical theology at Fuller, after earning bachelor’s degrees in philosophy and theology at the University of Winnipeg. Specializing in the theology of Karl Barth, he also offers expertise in Scripture and tradition, systematic theology, theological ethics, Anabaptist-Mennonite theology, just peace theology, and ecumenical formation. He has engaged in pastoral, denominational, and global ministries as well as in ecumenical dialogue, and serves as a Eucharistic Minister at the Church of Our Saviour in San Gabriel.
Loewen is married to Irene Loewen, a clinical psychologist -- and, says Loewen, the instrumental behind-the-scenes partner and supporter of his work. Together they have two daughters and three grandchildren.