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Dr. Ken Yamada returns to GBHEM as interim higher education leader

Nicole Burdakin
May 22, 2015

Dr. Ken Yamada
Dr. Ken Yamada at the 2015 APAMEI Conference in Incheon, Korea.

Dr. Ken Yamada will serve as interim associate general secretary for the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s Division of Higher Education beginning June 22, 2015.

Yamada has nearly 50 years of experience in Methodist education. After serving 13 years as the director of Institutions Research and Development at Hiwassee College in Tennessee, Yamada joined the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) in 1979 as the assistant general secretary for Schools, Colleges and Universities, and later as the associate general secretary for the Division of Higher Education. From 2005–2011, he served as special assistant to the GBHEM General Secretary for Global Education and New Initiatives.

“As we begin the search for the next associate general secretary, we are pleased to welcome Dr. Ken Yamada back to the Division of Higher Education as interim associate general secretary,” said the Rev. Dr. Kim Cape, general secretary of GBHEM. “Dr. Yamada’s numerous contributions to The United Methodist Church will be invaluable to the GBHEM during this transition.  We are grateful to Dr. Yamada for his continued commitment to all that we do.”

During his tenure with GBHEM, Yamada created unprecedented partnerships for the agency with United Methodist and Methodist educational institutions around the world. Yamada was also the primary designer and implementer of Africa University in Zimbabwe, and he played an important role in assisting Chancellor Ovidio Torres and his group to establish the Universidad del Centro Educativo Latinoamericano in Argentina. He was instrumental in the development of the International Association of Methodist Schools, Colleges and Universities (IAMSCU), an association that has its seen membership grow to include more than 700 educational institutions with student enrollment numbers nearing one million.

Born and raised in Japan, Yamada completed his undergraduate education at a Methodist-related university in Tokyo.  He has earned graduate degrees in Library and Information Science, Educational Technology, and Higher Education Administration from George Peabody College for Teachers. He has received numerous international honors in recognition of his work. In 2011, the IAMSCU and National Association of Schools and Colleges of The United Methodist Church (NASCUMC) boards of directors announced the creation of the “Flame of Excellence: The Ken Yamada Distinguished Leadership Award,” and presented the first award to Yamada.

Dr. Roger Ireson, former general secretary of GBHEM, said, “Ken Yamada is, without doubt, the most valuable resource The United Methodist Church has within the field of higher education, and remains the most trusted advisor and confidant of leaders in the field. His reputation is known throughout the world, and his dedication has increased the involvement of the church in higher education projects globally.”