Albert Aymer makes his mark

  • Posted: Sunday, May 12, 2013 1:01 a.m.

Since its founding as the theological department of Livingstone College in 1903, the most significant date in Hood Theological Seminary’s timeline may be 1994. That’s when Dr. Albert Aymer arrived.

Formerly an associate dean at Drew University, Aymer passed up a job offer from a prestigious Ivy League school to join Hood as dean. Neither he nor the seminary’s trustees have ever regretted the decision.

Where earlier leaders had planted seeds of hope, Aymer carefully cultivated a growing, vibrant institution.

Aymer and the leadership team he assembled took Hood from a little school that was part of Livingstone College to an independent institution with its own campus off Klumac Road beside Interstate 85. Hood’s roots are AME Zion, but its commencement Saturday included graduates who are United Methodist, North American Lutheran, Baptist, Church of God, Missionary Baptist, United Church of Christ, Holiness and non-denominational.

To say that Aymer has made his mark at Hood is an understatement. He has made Hood.

Bishop Richard K. Thompson, chairman of the Board of Trustees, draws an apt analogy. “I often like to refer to him as Hood Seminary’s Moses,” Thompson one said, “because he has brought it from a mighty long way.”

Swimming against a strong tide, the nation’s seminaries need more Albert Aymers. According to a recent Inside Higher Ed story, enrollments are falling, costs are rising and students’ reluctance to take on debt is increasingly. But the world needs religious leaders more than ever.

Now officially president emeritus headed for a yearlong sabbatical — and then retirement — Aymer received well-deserved praise Saturday for building the seminary’s faculty, staff, enrollment and donor base. He kept the seminary fiscally responsible,not an easy feat for any school. And with charm and wit, he won widespread affection for himself and the school.

Aymer has led Hood with vision, determination and — most important — faith. “The heart of man plans his way,” Proverbs says, “but the Lord establishes his steps.” Albert Aymer’s steps have indeed brought Hood Theological Seminary a mighty long way. He’s been a blessing to Hood and to Salisbury.

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