After two whirlwind years as Dean of Holy Trinity Seminary, Archpriest Alexander F. C. Webster, PhD, has retired and returned to his home and family in Virginia. During the annual Commencement exercises on June 2, the Seminary’s Faculty Council bestowed upon Fr. Alexander the title of Dean and Professor of Moral Theology Emeritus effective August 15, 2019.
Upon his arrival in Jordanville in August 2017, Fr Alexander brought a remarkable level of energy and worked long hours, while making tremendous personal sacrifices, to revive and spearhead the Seminary’s dormant proposal for a new Master of Divinity (MDiv) degree program to the New York State Education Department (NYSED) and New York Board of Regents (NYBOR). Those efforts, together with those of the Seminary’s Curriculum Committee and other members of the faculty and staff, bore fruit in April 2018 when HTOS received approval to launch a new MDiv degree in Fall 2018. Immediately the Seminary administration kicked into high gear with a special MDiv Scholarship fund-raising effort, which exceeded the announced goal of $50,000 in only a few months (also matched dollar for dollar by a generous benefactor). That enabled HTOS to offer full-tuition scholarships for 2018-2019 to the initial MDiv cohort of nine graduate students.
Among the other milestones during Fr Alexander’s tenure as Dean, these deserve mention here:
- Implementation of a new process for faculty review and promotion and the recruitment and appointment of several new full-time faculty.
- Additional classroom space, a large room dedicated to faculty offices and a lounge, and a “Five-Year Strategic Vision” plan
- Guaranteed housing for all MDiv students separate from the undergraduates in the Dormitory.
- Full tuition scholarships for ALL incoming undergraduate and graduate seminarians and for returning students with the requisite grade-point-averages.
- A very successful pan-Orthodox academic conference hosted by HTOS in March 2019 titled, “Chastity, Purity, and Integrity: Orthodox Anthropology and Secular Culture”—most of the presentations to be published in 2020 by Holy Trinity Seminary Press.
- Appointment of Dn. Michael Pavuk as the first HTOS Director of Development in November 2017, followed by several fund-raising drives with unprecedented success.
- Total team effort of all faculty to devise a 91-page Institutional and Program Student Development and Assessment Plan with Initial Implementation, which HTOS submitted to NYSED on June 1, 2019.
For additional biographical information about Fr. Alexander before his tenure as Seminary Dean, including his three vocations as a parish priest, professor, and “padre” (that is, a U.S. Army chaplain for more than 24 years), see his Faculty Profile: https://hts.edu/fralexanderwebster.
Suffice to say that HTOS will always cherish his inestimable contributions to the Seminary’s life, especially his unforgettable leadership, force of vision, and commitment.