After the decision of the IAMSCU Board of Directors on April 25, 2023 during their meeting in London, and the affirmation received by the IAMSCU General Assembly which met in Bristol on April 30, 2023, the IAMSCU Immediate Past President, Rev. Dr. Tom Wolfe, received the Ken Yamada Award in a special ceremony held at Emory University on December 11, 2023. The IAMSCU President, Lic. Adriana Murriello, could not travel from Argentina, but sent a letter to Tom Wolfe, congratulating him on the honor bestowed upon him.
Professor emeritus Dr. George ”Tink” Tinker, the renowned scholar of American Indian Studies, introduced Tom Wolfe and highlighted his lifelong commitment to social justice and his contribution to the conciliation between Methodist educational institutions and Native Americans victim of racism and colonialism. Rev. Dr. Gerald Durley, the famous Civil Rights leader who worked with Dr. Martin Luther King and served as adviser to President Barack Obama, gave an energetic and inspiring speech honoring Wolfe.
Dr. Ken Yamada, the first recipient of the award and after whom this recognition is now name, traveled from Japan to deliver the award in person. Dr. Gerald Lord, former Executive Secretary of IAMSCU, led a liturgical moment of the Special Program during which the award was delivered to Tom Wolfe, who then addressed the participants and expressed his thankfulness for the opportunity to serve Methodist education and the recognition he received from IAMSCU.
Complementing the activities and the reception in honor of Dr. Wolfe, Greg Bergquist, the General Secretary if the General Board Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM), and Prof. Dr. Jan Love, Dean of Candler School of Theology and member of both the University Senate and the Association of United Methodist Theological Schools (AUMTS), shared special words of appreciation for Dr. Wolfe’s leadership in the Church, the Academy, and the World.
The Ken Yamada Distinguished Leadership Award (“The Flame of Excellence”) recognizes truly outstanding and visionary leadership in the functions of either or both organizations. The recipient will have exhibited those unique and compelling qualities of leadership, both tangible and intangible, which inspire others to follow in bold new directions. This person will be creative, dynamic, courageous, and willing to take risks for the sake of improving the organization and the church. Unquestionable and exemplary integrity and grace will be hallmarks of the recipient who will also have left an indelible mark of enhanced quality on the organization and its operations. The award recognizes faithful, dedicated, and competent accomplishment and service to the organization over a sustained period of time. This award is the highest public recognition given by IAMSCU and will be reserved for extraordinarily distinctive and effective leadership.