Dean Jonathan Walton to leave School of Divinity, Walker named interim dean

Walton will become the president of the Princeton Theological Seminary on Jan. 1, 2023


Courtesy of Wake Forest

Dean Jonathan Walton led the School of Divinity through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Christa Dutton, News Editor

Dean of the School of Divinity Jonathan Lee Walton will be leaving Wake Forest on Jan. 1, 2023, to assume the presidency of Princeton Theological Seminary, where he earned his MDiv and PhD. Corey D.B. Walker, Wake Forest Professor of the Humanities and director of Wake Forest’s African American Studies Program, will serve as interim dean. 

Walton is a social ethicist whose scholarship focuses on evangelical Christianity and its relationship to mass media and political culture. He began his full service as Dean of the School of Divinity and Dean of Wait Chapel on Jan. 1, 2020. 

“My experience at Wake Forest University has been nothing short of amazing,” Walton said. “Though forced to confront varying challenges born of the pandemic, trying times reveal much about a community. I learned just how thoughtful and creative my colleagues are at the School of Divinity and beyond. The extraordinary discipline and resilience of Wake Forest students speaks further to the character of this institution.

An email announcement described Walton as providing “an inspirational voice of hope, healing and unity during an extraordinarily challenging time.” 

During his tenure, Walton navigated the pandemic, a feat in itself, while also accomplishing several other initiatives. 

Walton secured many philanthropic gifts and competitive foundation grants totaling more than $15 million to support the School of Divinity. 

Walton also established key collaborations with other university partners.  Under his leadership, School of Professional Studies and School of Divinity worked together to develop new certificate and degree programs like the Graduate Certificate in Faith and Health Equity. Additionally, Walton also enhanced university-wide collaborations to further integrate the School of Divinity with other programs like Worship in Wait, Wake the Arts and Department of Athletics. 

As Walton transitions away from Wake Forest, Walker is stepping up to take his place as the interim dean. As an ordained American Baptist minister, Walker has served in leadership positions at numerous churches and universities, including Virginia Union University, Winston-Salem State University and Brown University. Throughout his career, he has published more than 60 texts, many of which are focused on African American religion, philosophy and culture. His contributions at Wake Forest include establishing the African American Studies program and working in both the English department and Interdisciplinary Humanities Program. 

In a press release announcing his new position, Walker expressed his excitement to take on the new role. 

“I am deeply honored to serve the School of Divinity and Wake Forest University in this capacity,” Walker said. “In a challenging moment in our nation and world, the School of Divinity is uniquely positioned to draw on its rich intellectual and spiritual resources to faithfully live out our university motto Pro Humanitate. I welcome the opportunity to be a part of this extraordinary community in this righteous endeavor.”

While Walton may be leaving Wake Forest, he plans to stay connected to Wake Divinity.  

I am excited about the future of Wake Divinity,” Walton said. “It has been a joy to join their incredible work living out Pro Humanitate on campus and throughout the larger community. Though I have opted to leave Wake Forest to serve my alma mater, the world of theological education is very interconnected. Thus, I will remain a supporter of Wake Divinity. Institutional affiliation cannot undercut a shared commitment to justice, reconciliation, and compassion.”