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Principal Announcement

22 May 2023

An exciting new chapter for Whitley Principal René Erwich.

Our Principal, Rev Professor René Erwich moved from the Netherlands to take up his three-year appointment at Whitley College in 2017. In 2020, the Assembly of the Baptist Union of Victoria affirmed a recommendation to appoint René for a further three years until 2023.

During the last few months, Professor Erwich has been discerning God’s call, in anticipation of the reappointment process. Having reflected on a combination of factors, including his family situation with children and ageing parents overseas; his professional interests and the continued growth of Whitley College; Professor Erwich will bring his principalship to a conclusion at the end of this three-year term.

René leaves with our full support, friendship and gratitude as he moves to take up an exciting position at Viaa University of Applied Sciences, Zwolle in the Netherlands. His last day will be in mid-September 2023.

We are very proud of what Whitley College has achieved over the last 6 years. It has been a challenging time for the College, the University of Divinity and the wider theological education sector.

As a Council, we could not have asked for a more committed and hardworking Principal. René’s skills and dedication have helped us to make great gains. We emerge at the conclusion of René’s principalship a stronger provider of quality theological education.

We wish René every success in his future role and God’s blessing on his family.

We are moving forward with recruitment to find a Principal who will pursue Whitley’s mission, build our culture, embody our values, and serve the College and the wider Baptist movement.

The Council has appointed Associate Professor Rev Darrell Jackson as Interim Principal. Darrell is currently the Dean of Research at Whitley and will take up this position as Professor Erwich finishes. Darrell’s area of focus is Christian mission. He joined Whitley College in 2019 after eight years at Morling College in Sydney. Darrell brings to the role his passion for theology that makes a difference in the world and forms people for service in the church and the world.

As a member of Whitley’s Executive Team, Darrell has played an active role in shaping the strategic direction and priorities of the College. He is committed to the ongoing development and implementation of these priorities. Notably, these include developing our facilities, strengthening our partnership with the BUV and evolving our governance framework.

Whitley College has grown enrolments, sharpened our focus on Christian formation, and research engagement with industry. All against a backdrop of sector-wide declines in enrolments and institutional mergers. It has not been easy and we thank the staff and faculty of the College who continue to support the learning and enrich the experience of students.

Rev Katrina Lambert
Chairperson on behalf of Whitley Council