Talbot professor installed as first new dean in 20 years

Clinton Arnold, the new dean of the Talbot School of Theology was installed on Tuesday.


Pastor of the Whittier Hills Baptist Church, Robert D. Bishop, joins President Barry Corey in praying for new Dean of Talbot, Clint Arnold – Bishop’s former teacher. | Rachel Adams/THE CHIMES

Katie Nelson, Writer

Pastor of Whittier Hills Baptist Church, Robert D. Bishop, joins President Barry Corey in praying for new Dean of Talbot, Clint Arnold – Bishop's former teacher. | Rachel Adams/THE CHIMES

After two decades of leadership under dean Dennis Dirks, Talbot School of Theology instated his successor, Clinton Arnold, a Talbot professor, in a ceremony Jan. 29.

Junior music major Echo Lau attended the event by accident, but ended up staying to honor Arnold.

“I usually go to Talbot chapel,” she said, noting she did not realize the ceremony was taking place during chapel. “[But] it’s nice to be here and it’s really encouraging.”

Although students like Lau may not attend Talbot, Arnold pointed in the interview out that decisions made within the seminary affect undergraduates taking Bible classes.

“A lot of people think of Talbot as just the grad programs, but Talbot is responsible for all of the Bible and theology for undergraduate students, so one quarter of the curriculum for every Biola student is taught by Talbot,” he said. “My role is much more expansive than just the graduate school.”

The event featured several biblical studies professors, including Joanne Jung, who read Scripture, and Robert Bishop, who assisted president Barry Corey in delivering the commissioning prayer. Their colleague Arnold has been teaching Bible classes at Biola for the past 25 years and earned both his undergraduate degree in communications and his Master’s of Divinity from the university.

“I was torn between going to Cal Poly [California Polytechnic State University] and studying agriculture, or going to Biola,” Arnold said in an interview. “I came here, thinking I would come for a year and just get a little bit of Bible, and I got hooked.”

Though several candidates were considered for the position from a variety of schools, in the end one of Talbot’s own to filled Dirks’ shoes. The Biola Board of Trustees announced Arnold as the new Talbot dean this past May after Dirks stepped down in April. But for a long time, Arnold said he was content to teach and did not plan on pursuing a different career until he was nudged in that direction.

“When our former dean stepped down, I had a lot of very trusted friends and colleagues that strongly urged me … to really consider this,” he said. “Something about finishing 25 years and [receiving] the service awards, it made me really reflective about, ‘What do I want to do with the next chapter of my life?’”

In his speech during the ceremony, Corey referred to Arnold as a good friend. Those who know him acknowledge his friendly personality and kindness in his work.

“I had him for one class last semester,” said Talbot student Kenneth Santos, who is pursuing a Master’s in New Testament studies. “Just from knowing him in class, he’s really humble, he does great leadership, he’s really knowledgeable [and] really personable, and he cares about his students a lot. I’m just really proud to see him as the dean.”


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