The reverend Dr. Cynthia M. Campbell, ninth president of McCormick Theological Seminary, was born in Pasadena, California, in 1948. She received a Bachelor of Arts magna cum laude from Occidental College in 1970, where she majored in philosophy and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She earned a Master of Divinity magna cum laude from Harvard Divinity School in 1974 and a Doctor of Philosophy in systematic theology from Southern Methodist University in 1981. In 1991, Hastings College awarded her the honorary Doctor of Divinity.
Campbell was ordained by the Presbytery of San Gabriel on June 30, 1974 and began service in Dallas, Texas, as an associate pastor at Northminster United Presbyterian Church. While pursuing her doctoral studies, she served as interim pastor at St. Paul Presbyterian Church in Fort Worth, Texas, and Madison Square United Presbyterian Church in San Antonio, Texas. In 1981, she became associate professor of theology and ministry and director of the doctor of ministry program at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. In 1988, she became pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Salina, Kansas, one of the first large congregations in the denomination to call a woman as head of staff.
Within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Campbell has served on numerous task forces and committees. For the General Assembly, she chaired the Special Committee on Examination of Candidates, co-moderated the Presbyteries' Cooperative Committee, and served on the Board of the Vocation Agency. She was a member of the Task Force on Christian Obedience in a Nuclear Age as well as the Special Committee of fifteen, which prepared the final text of the Brief Statement of Faith approved by the denomination in 1990. She was a member of the Committee on Theological Education, served on the General Assembly Council, and was the moderator of the Congregational Ministries Division. Campbell has made significant contributions to the ecumenical church as well. She represented the Presbyterian Church in the United States on the theology commission of the Consultation on Church Union (COCU) in the preparation of the final draft of the COCU consensus and chaired the General Assembly special committee on COCU.
She is author of a monograph, Theologies Written from Feminist Perspectives, published by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). She has written articles on theology, ministry, ethics, and worship for Presbyterian Outlook, Reformed World, Insights, Interpretation, and Reformed Liturgy and Music. She contributed the Trinity entry in the Encyclopedia of the Reformed Faith and wrote the forward to Presbyterian Polity for Church Officers.