Union News

Dr. Su Yon Pak Appointed Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean

Categories: Union News

Photographed by Mohammad Mia ’21

Union Theological Seminary President Rev. Dr. Serene Jones today announced the appointment of Dr. Su Yon Pak (‘99) to the position of Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean. Dr. Pak will be Union’s first Asian American and first queer Academic Dean, one of her many groundbreaking firsts.

“Su brings a wealth of experience and a beautiful creative spirit. She will be critical to Union’s efforts to strengthen and build capacity on the academic and community fronts,” said President Jones. “We are all excited to welcome Su in this new role and in particular, we are excited to engage in moving Union forward on all fronts.”

Dr. Pak has been at Union since 1994, first as a doctoral student in the joint Union – Teachers College Columbia University in Religion and Education program and then in various positions: Associate Dean for Student Life & Director of Recruitment, and Vice President for Institutional Advancement. In her current position, Dean and Associate Professor of Integrative and Field-Based Education, which she has occupied since 2009, she innovated field education expanding and cultivating over 200 field sites, paying particular attention to pedagogical and interreligious work of context-based experiential education. She also brought courses inside Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, created a unique ACPE-accredited hybrid field education-clinical pastoral education program in collaboration with the Jewish Theological Seminary, and gave vision and leadership to the new and burgeoning Chaplaincy concentration.

Dr. Pak shares, “I am honored and delighted to be appointed to this new role at this beloved seminary that I have served for many years. It is a privilege to be working collaboratively with President Jones, my esteemed faculty colleagues, and dedicated staff toward our common mission of fostering courageous leaders through practices of intellectual and academic excellence, social justice, and compassionate wisdom.”

As a Korean American queer feminist practical theologian, Dr. Pak intentionally practices collaborative work with a deep conviction that we are wiser together than alone. She is the co-author and co-editor of three books. Her most recent book, Sisters in Mourning: Daughters Reflecting on Care, Loss, and Meaning co-edited and co-authored with Rabbi Mychal Springer (Cascade Press, 2021) expresses her artistry as her embodied theological praxis. Her other collaborative works include: Leading Wisdom: Asian, North American Asian Women Leaders, (Westminster John Knox Press, 2017); and Singing the Lord’s Song in a New Land: Korean American Practices of Faith, (Westminster John Knox, 2005).

Active in the American Academy of Religion, Dr. Pak served in various leadership capacities including as the chair of the Professional Conduct Task Force. Among her many professional affiliations, she serves on the boards of Pacific Asian North American Asian Women in Theology and Ministry (PANAAWTM), United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia, Chaplaincy Innovation Lab, Center for Pastoral Education (JTS), and Brooklyn Zen Center.

A native of South Korea, Dr. Pak immigrated to NYC at the age of 10 and grew up in Queens, NY. She is a Ruling Elder of the First Presbyterian Church in the City of New York.