Iliff School of Theology Trustees Appoint Rev. Dr. Butler, Jr. As Iliff's 17th President

May 11, 2023

DENVER, CO. — Iliff’s Board of Trustees is pleased to appoint Rev. Dr. Lee Hayward Butler, Jr. as Iliff’s seventeenth president effective July 1, 2023.

Born in Central Pennsylvania, the Rev. Dr. Lee H. Butler, Jr. is a lifelong Baptist and a first-generation beneficiary of the Post-Civil and Human Rights struggle in the United States.

Dr. Butler comes to Iliff from Phillips Theological Seminary in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he has served as the Vice President of Academic Affairs and Academic Dean, and the William Tabbernee Professor of the History of Religions and Africana Pastoral Theology since July 1, 2020. Prior to joining Phillips, he served as the Dean of the Faculty at Chicago Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois.

Dr. Butler received his PhD and Master of Philosophy in Psychology and Religion from Drew University. He holds a Master of Theology in Pastoral Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, a Master of Divinity with a concentration in Pastoral Care and Counseling from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary (now Palmer Theological Seminary), and a BA in Religion from Bucknell University.

He is the first African American tenured full professor and the first person of color to hold the office of VPAA and Academic Dean and serve as Acting President at Phillips. As VPAA, his responsibilities included oversight and supervision of the Associate Dean, Registrar, Recruitment, Admissions and Financial Aid, Director of Theological Field Education, Director of the Doctor of Ministry Program, Director of Black Church Traditions Program, Dean of the Chapel, Faculty, and Dean of the Library.

In the Iliff Board of Trustee’s announcement regarding Dr. Butler’s appointment, Chairman Andrew Folkerth stated, “We are very excited to welcome Dr. Butler’s vision and passion for scholarship, learning, and equity for our community and communities across the globe. We strongly believe that he is the right leader at the right time to lead one of the most innovative theological institutions of higher learning well into the future.”

About Iliff

Founded in 1892, the Iliff School of Theology is an independent, graduate school that is recognized nationally and internationally for its emphasis on justice, diversity, and ethics. Iliff is a graduate school that cultivates compassion and justice through courageous imagination. Iliffians are activists, leaders, and innovators in diverse religious, secular, and academic communities. Located in Denver, Colorado, Iliff offers a progressive and diverse community that is supportive, inclusive, and enriching for students. For more information, visit

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