Meet Dr. Jason Hiles, the Dean of the College of Theology. Check out our exclusive interview with him below:
Tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up in a small town northwest of St. Louis, just about thirty minutes from Mark Twain’s hometown. I was married at the end of my sophomore year to my high school sweetheart. After that, I completed my undergraduate degree in sculpture. As I was wrapping up, I became very involved in ministry with a church that valued leadership development. Under the guidance of a mentor, I began to pursue a career at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where I received my Masters of Divinity.
I became involved in restaurant management during the course of my graduate degree program. This is where I was able to further develop a few leadership skills. At the time, I had anticipated becoming a pastor. However, my colleagues and professors suggested that I continue my studies at the PhD level.
So, I transition to Wake Forest, North Carolina a year after completing my master’s. I completed a PhD in Systematic Theology under John Hammett at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. By the time I had completed my third degree I had two children. My wife and I packed up our family and we moved to central Louisiana, where I became an assistant professor of systematic theology; we had our third child there. Over time, I was promoted to the assistant dean position over a small divinity school for training pastors in the state of Louisiana. After five years there, I applied to GCU and the rest is history.
If I could say, I love football and particularly the Chicago Bears. Mike Singletary is the greatest linebacker ever, but I don’t think anyone will believe me. I enjoy reading books, drinking coffee and drawing. Most of my time I spend enjoying my children; we go hiking, to the gym and watch old and modern western movies.
What do you enjoy most about your work with the College of Theology?
That’s a very good question. I would have to say that for the most part, I enjoy setting the direction of the college and ensuring that we are educating students in ways that clearly equip them to share the gospel and minister accordingly. I love that we are creating an environment where we can equip students to integrate faith in their ministry service opportunities as God leads. Those are a few of my favorite things.
In what way do you see the College of Theology as fostering “United in Focus”?
The college is made up of faculty and staff coming from diverse perspectives. They are diverse theologically, denominationally and academically. In a similar way, our students are also diverse. We are attempting to teach theology in a context that is complex but rewarding. We are attempting to encourage students to understand that they have in common, things that are much deeper than that which would distinguish them. We are on a campus where we are able to interact with individuals that are spiritually distinct. Yet, we are able to share what we have in common; which is Christ. That is not easy to do in the United States. But we do it for the sake of a shared mission.
After taking a look at instructors, students, alumni and church partners, how effective do you perceive the impact of this vision?
I would say that we have been pretty effective in the five years since I have arrived. We have created a foundation that we can build on for the future. In the space, we are trying to establish relationships that may take decades in order to build in the ways we hope to build. In short, we have made great progress in the time that we have had together, but there is quite a bit more to do.
What resources would you provide to students seeking to pursue unity in focus?
As the Dean, a major goal is to teach and to model Biblical unity; and this is a unity that is rooted in a common faith— guided by the same Spirit and for the glory of Christ. I too, try to model this Biblical unity.
We also bring people into the college who are similarly committed to unity in Christ and serving a broad constituency of students who work in those areas. We have also been concerned with structuring programs and courses that maintain the unity that we have in Christ. By underscoring this, we are able to ensure that students are being continually guided back towards the reality of unity in Christ.
It is our hope to drive students to the Biblical text, provide co-curricular resources and offer events that promote the understanding of that which students have in common as they serve the same Lord. The experience of striving for unity can impress upon students the value of working together for a shared mission. When they enter the local church, this can translate into an ability to work well with others without letting go of central gospel principles.
At Grand Canyon University, our faculty is committed to the success of all students. To learn more about our College of Theology, please visit our website or use the Request More Information button on this page.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University.