Academic Leadership Changes
at Grand Rapids
Cornerstone University’s Grand Rapids Theological Seminary is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Thomas Webber as the seminary’s interim dean. Webber served for 15 years in pastoral ministry at five churches, two years as a Christian nonprofit executive and over 25 years in the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. As a Navy chaplain, he oversaw the spiritual well-being of thousands of troops aboard aircraft carriers and in war zones. Webber is a graduate of both Cornerstone and Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. He also holds a Master of Theology from Emory University’s Candler School of Theology and a Doctor of Ministry from Faith Evangelical Seminary.
“Tom is an exceptional Christian leader who has been battle-tested during his service in war zones, churches, and national non-profit organizations,” said Dr. Gerson Moreno-Riaño, president of Cornerstone. “Tom is an exemplary servant of Jesus Christ, a leader committed to Christ, His church, the gospel and to the education of Christian leaders for the pulpit and the pew. We are greatly blessed to have a servant of Dr. Webber’s caliber take the helm of our seminary during this important time in its history and ministry.”
Besides Webber’s prestigious military, professional and educational accomplishments, he is also a certified life coach, specializing in character development. In 2019, he assisted nonprofit organization Samaritan’s Purse in their Operation Heal Our Patriots, which offers wounded veterans both physical and spiritual care. Webber looks forward to serving the seminary’s students, staff and faculty while the university conducts a national search for a new seminary dean for the coming academic year.
“When called upon by the president to do a servant’s job, I’ll do that,” Webber said. “My role is to meet the needs of the seminary and get it ready for its further ministry in the future.”
From two-time alumnus to dean of Grand Rapids Theological Seminary and executive vice president for academics to his more recent role as a Cornerstone University parent, Dr. John VerBerkmoes has participated in the life of the CU community for four decades. Based on these tremendous experiences, VerBerkmoes has decided to pivot his Cornerstone career from senior leadership administration at the seminary and university to coordinate the university’s accreditation and assessment efforts.
“John’s decision to pivot his Cornerstone career to serve as the executive director of accreditation and assessment is of great benefit to our university,” Moreno-Riaño said. “He will use his expertise in the assessment of student learning to continue strengthening Cornerstone’s culture of continuous improvement.”
In his new role, VerBerkmoes will work closely with faculty and staff to ensure educational effectiveness and implement assessment plans and strategies as the university continues to grow. He will also assist in securing program-specific accreditations for degrees such as nursing, engineering and counseling.
“It is the combination of a vital and compelling mission and working with honorable people in a Christ-centered community that has made serving as the academic dean for GRTS for the past 20 years an absolute delight and the highlight of my career,” VerBerkmoes said. “I am excited to lean into this new role in the areas of accreditation and assessment since these areas are vital to fulfilling our institutional mission and delivering on our promises to our students and other stakeholders.”
In the coming weeks, a national search will be undertaken as the university seeks a permanent candidate to assume the position of dean of GRTS. In addition, a national search will also be launched to seek a candidate for the position of vice president for academics & chief academic officer.