Announcing the Next Executive Director


Vivek with wife Jeanie and children Kalyani, Kavi, and Leena.

Dear Chesterton House Alumni and Friends,

The Board of Directors of Chesterton House is pleased to announce the ministry’s next Executive Director: Vivek Mathew. As many of you know, Vivek has served as Assistant Director since March, and he will assume the helm from Founding Director Karl Johnson effective November 1st.

Each of us on the board believes that Vivek has come to us as a gift from the Lord, at the right time and with the right capabilities to lead the organization into a future laden with both significant challenges and great possibilities.

Originally from Defiance, Ohio, Vivek completed his undergraduate degree in Computer Science at Princeton, after which he worked for almost ten years on Wall Street with a quantitative trading team at Morgan Stanley. He was an active member of Redeemer Presbyterian Church (Tim Keller’s church), where he met his wife, Jeanie. Vivek completed his M.Div. at Princeton Theological Seminary, followed by a masters in Philosophy (B.Phil) at Oxford University. In 2013, Vivek and Jeanie moved to Ithaca so he could pursue a Ph.D. in Philosophy at Cornell, focusing on metaphysics, philosophy of science, and philosophy of language. He and Jeanie, who now have three young children, are members of Bread of Life Anglican Church in Ithaca. Vivek will complete his dissertation defense this fall.

Vivek first came to our attention when he co-taught a Chesterton House course with Dr. Ryan O’Dowd last year. We began exploring his interest in the Executive Director role early this year, and in his time as Assistant Director he has absorbed a great deal about ministry operations and established relationships with many students. Vivek and I have spent considerable time together in Ithaca, New York City, at my home in Dallas, and most recently at the Consortium of Christian Study Centers Annual Meeting in Chicago. We have discussed at length everything from the complex issues related to student life, how best to continue serving and partnering with the larger Cornell community, and even some new ideas for programming such as the Logos Forum, a new discussion series Vivek will lead exploring the connection between faith and reason.

While Vivek was a strong candidate from the beginning, the Search Committee explored several options. We evaluated candidates from other study centers, as well as Christian leaders from other Ivy League schools and educational ministries. We solicited input from Chesterton House staff and students. Vivek also provided presentations to the Search Committee and later the full Board of Directors. I want to thank the other members of the Search Committee, Dr. David Williamson, Kelly O’Neal ’85 and Rev. Craig Higgins, for working with me through this process. In searching for a person to take on a role that Karl has so ably filled from the inception of this ministry, the Search Committee had its work cut out for us!

Karl will serve as Executive Director through the ministry’s 20th Anniversary and Dedication Weekend on October 3-5, after which he will transition to the part-time role of Founder. He will remain involved in strategy and alumni relations but already has handed over much of the day-to-day responsibilities to Vivek. Most importantly, Karl is truly excited for the vision that Vivek brings to the organization. He clearly possesses strengths in unique areas that can further develop what Karl and the Chesterton House staff have created.

Change is a healthy and important aspect of the growth and progress of any organization. While Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8), the Lord celebrates change when He proclaims, “See, I am doing a new thing!” (Isaiah 43:19). I am confident that as we trust in the Lord with all of our heart for the future of this ministry, he will make our paths straight.

Thank you for your continued support of Chesterton House.


Dr. Frederick Barber, DSL (Arts ’87)
Chairman of the Board

PS: Meeting the new director is yet one more great reason to join us for the 20th Anniversary and Dedication Weekend. See the great line-up of events and list of alumni and friends registered to date on the main events page.

Chesterton House Painting