Past Deans & Presidents

1892-1893     Daniel A. Payne
1893-1900     John G. Mitchell
1900-1902     Benjamin T. Tanner
1902-1937     George F. Woodson
1937-1944     Charles S. Spivey, Sr.
1944              D.O. Walker
1944-1951     John H. Lewis
1951-1957     Rembert E. Stokes
1957-1967     Charles Spivey, Jr.
1968             Alvia A. Shaw
1968-1977     Handley A. Hickey
1977-1985     U. A. Hughey
1985-1988     John E. Brandon
1989-1997     Louis-Charles Harvey
1997- 2001.    Obery M. Hendricks, Jr.
2003–            Leah Gaskin Fitchue


Presidents and Deans of Payne Theological Seminary – A Chronology


1892-1893       Daniel A. Payne

Daniel Alexander Payne was born on 24 February 1811 in Charleston, South Carolina.  Both the Brown Fellowship Society of Charleston and the minor Moralist Society gave him some formal education.  He taught himself the Bible as well as Latin, Greek, history, other subjects.  He converted in 1829, was ordained a deacon in 1838, and became the A.M.E. Church’s sixth bishop in 1852.  In 1856, he co-founded Wilberforce University in Ohio.  He died on 19 November 1893.  His legacy is the great institution that bears his name, Payne Theological Seminary


1893 – 1900    John G. Mitchell

John G. Mitchell reopened Wilberforce University on 3 July 1863.  Initially, only six children sought education at the school. Mitchell, with some assistance from his wife, Fannie, served as the sole teacher.  By 1864, however, the growth of the student population led him to hire another faculty member.  The school progressed under his leadership.

1900 -1902      Benjamin Tucker Tanner

Benjamin T. Tanner was born on 25 December 1835 in Pittsburgh, PA.  He was educated at Avery College where he earned an honorary A.M. degree in 1870.  He also studied at Western Theological Seminary and earned his D.D. and his LL.D degrees from Wilberforce University.  He converted in 1856 and was ordained a deacon and an elder in 1860.  He edited the Christian Recorder from 1868 to 1884.  He also founded the A.M.E. Review and edited the publication from 1884 until 1888.  He was elected as the A.M.E. Church’s eighteenth bishop in 1888. He died in 1915.


1902-1937       George F. Woodson

George F. Woodson was born on 20 May 1861 in Pittsburgh, PA.  He was educated in the public schools of Pittsburgh.  He attended Wilberforce University and later earned an honorary A.M. degree from that institution.  He earned a B.D. degree from Drew University.  He also received a D.D. from both Payne Theological Seminary and Morris Brown University.  He earned his license to preach in 1887.  He pastured in Bermuda, New Jersey, and Ohio.  He taught at Payne Theological Seminary and served as the school’s dean from 1902 until 1937.


1937-1944.      Charles S. Spivey, Sr.

Charles S. Spivey, Sr., came into this world on 12 September 1891 in Cairo, Illinois.  He studied in Cairo’s public schools.  From Wilberforce, he earned an A.B. degree in 1916 and a D.D. degree in 1924.  He received  a B.D. degree from Payne Seminary in 1918 and an S.T.B degree from Yale in 1919.  In 1930, he earned an S. T. M. degree from Philadelphia Divinity School.  He served in Ohio, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Kentucky. He was the dean of Payne Theological Seminary from 1937 to 1944.


1944.               Dougal Ormonde Walker

D.O. Walker was born 5 January 1890 in Layou, St. Vincent.  He was educated at public schools in his native country, but eventually earned degrees from American institutions.   For example, he earned an A.B. from Shaw University and an S.T.B. from Boston University.  Also, he received an M.A. degree from Western Reserve University,  a D.D. from Allen University , and an LL.D. from Campbell College.  He pastured in Massachusetts, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Ohio and New York.  He became president of Wilberforce University in 1936 and presided until 1941.  He was elected dean of Payne Theological Seminary in 1944, but declined the offer.  In 1948, the A.M.E. Church elected him as its sixty-sixth bishop.  He died on 18 June 1955


1944 -1951      John H. Lewis

John H. Lewis was born on 8 March 1886 in Americus, Georgia.  He studied at Americus’ public schools.  Afterward, he attended Morris Brown college where he earned his A.B. in 1905.  He entered Yale Divinity School where he earned his B.D. in 1913.  He earned an M.A. from the University of Chicago in 1914.  Wilberforce conferred an honorary D.D. upon him in 1921 and an honorary LL.D. upon him in 1936.  He pastured in Georgia, Missouri, California, and Arkansas.  He served as Morris Brown’s president from 1920 until 1928.  He also served at Payne Theological Seminary from 1944 until 1951

1951-1957.      Rembert E. Stokes

Rembert E. Stokes was born 16 June 1917 in Dayton, Ohio.  He was educated in public schools.  He eventually attended Wilberforce University where he earned his B.S.  He received an S.T.B. from Boston University School of Theology. He also attended Harvard Divinity School.  He pastured in Massachusetts and Rhodes Island.  He served as president of Payne Theological Seminary from 1951 until 1957.

1957-1967.      Charles S. Spivey, Jr.

Charles S. Spivey, Jr., was educated at Wilberforce University and at Yale University.  He pastured in Pittsburgh and Chicago.  He served at Payne from 1957 to 1967.

1968                Alvin A. Shaw

Alvin A. Shaw was born in Duarte, California on 7 May 1915.  He attended public schools and earned an A.B. degree from the University of Southern California in 1939.  He pastured several congregations in California and served in the Pacific during World War II.  He served [in the capacity of president? Dean?] at Payne Theological Seminary in 1968.

1968-1977.      Handley A. Hickey

Dr. Hickey was a presiding elder in the Indiana Annual Conference.  He served as dean of Payne Theological Seminary from 1968 until 1977. He died on 11 March 2001, and his funeral was held at Holy Trinity A.M.E. Church in Wilberforce, Ohio.

1977-1985       U. A. Hughey

U.A. Hughey was educated at Wilberforce University and the University of Pittsburgh.  He pastured congregations in both Pennsylvania and Ohio.  He served at Payne Theological Seminary from 1977 to 1985.

1985-1988.          John E. Brandon

John E. Brandon earned the degree of D. Min.  He pastured in Bermuda, Massachusetts, and New York.  He served as dean at Payne Theological Seminary from 1985-1988.

1989-1997.          Louis-Charles Harvey

Louis-Charles Harvey received his B.S. degree from LeMoyne-Owen College.  He earned his M.Div. from the Colgate Rochester Divinity School.  He earned his M.Phil. and Ph.D. from Union Theological Seminary.  He later taught at both Colgate and United Theological Seminary.  He was the president of Payne Theological Seminary from 1989 until 1997.

1997- 2001.         Obery M. Hendricks, Jr.

Obery M. Hendricks, Jr. earned his B.A. from Rutgers University, his M.D. from Princeton Theological Seminary, and his Ph.D. from Princeton University.  He served as the president of Payne Theological Seminary from 1997 until 2001.


2003–Present    Leah Gaskin Fitchue

Dr. Fitchue holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Speech Pathology from Rutgers University, a Masters of Science degree in Speech Pathology from the University of Michigan, a Masters of Divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary, and an Ed.D. in Administration, Planning & Social Policy from Harvard University .

Compiled by George T. Johnson, Library Director, Reverdy Cassius Ransom Library, Payne Theological Seminary