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March 26, 2001

Chopp leaving to head
Yale Divinity school

By Jan Gleason


Provost Rebecca Chopp is leaving Emory to become dean of Yale’s divinity school. She will assume leadership of Yale’s interdenomi-national, nonsectarian, graduate divinity school on July 1.

Chopp is the 13th–and first female–dean of the school. She also will be the Titus Street Professor of Theology and Culture, a position held previously by Jarsolav Pelikan and, before him, Roland Bainton.

President Bill Chace paid tribute to Chopp in a campuswide e-mail: “We have had, for four years now, the good fortune of building with the aid of her diligent guidance, her evocative leadership, her fine grasp of the heart of the issue, her acute intellectual capability and her humane character.”

During her four-year tenure as provost, Chopp worked to articulate the intellectual vision of Emory. She initiated a number of conversations with the faculty about the nature and structures of Emory’s intellectual life, including explorations of teaching and research. She reformulated the Council of Deans to include just the deans of the schools to create a more coherent group. She encouraged a vision of the graduate school as the preeminent scholarly center of Emory that would speak to the scholarly life and agenda of the faculty.

Chopp was supportive of a number of collaborative activities including the Law and Religion Center, the Center for Community Partnerships and many initiatives in the international arena. She led the planning activities for the use of the Emory West campus. She worked to make the Presidential Advisory Committee, which reviews tenure decisions, more regular and rigorous.

“Rebecca deployed discretionary resources of the budget in support of the academic agenda,” said Senior Vice Provost Harriet King. “For example, she supported the addition of faculty positions and the creation of academic initiatives such as the new Cancer Center as well as supporting activities like the acquisition of mummies by the Carlos Museum.”

Dean Woody Hunter of the School of Law will serve as interim provost, beginning this summer, while a search is conducted for Chopp’s replacement. “Despite having resigned last fall from his deanship, after 12 successful years, in order to return to the faculty, Woody has exhibited his customary generosity and loyalty to Emory by agreeing to return to administrative duty. In him we will gain the seasoned wisdom of Emory’s most senior dean,” Chace wrote in the campuswide e-mail.

A scholar of Christian theology and an ordained Methodist minister, Chopp has served as provost and executive vice president for academic affairs since 1998 after a quick rise through the faculty ranks in the School of Theology.

“Rebecca Chopp brings an extraordinary array of strengths to her new position at Yale, and we are extremely fortunate to have attracted a person of such distinction,” said Yale President Richard Levin. “She is an outstanding scholar as well as an energetic and capable administrator. Her judgment and humanity are widely appreciated by her colleagues at Emory and elsewhere.”

Chopp said the Yale Divinity School has a rich heritage and a promising future, and she plans to work with Yale’s president and provost to strengthen its campus presence and to envision what theological education will look like in the 21st century.

In a letter to colleagues she wrote, “I want to underscore my professional commitment not only to higher education but also to Christian theology, the role of religion in culture, and to theological education.”

“While this is a time of flux for our university, we should not fear such change,” Chace wrote. “We should, rather, relish it as a sign of health, of dynamism, of strength.”

“She was a good match for us because she was able to see that what we do enriches the academic community,” said Ali Crown, director of the Women’s Center. “I hate to see her go, but I understand that this was a vocational decision.”

“When I reflect about Rebecca’s leadership on campus what comes to mind first is her sense of openness and fairness,” said Jim Fowler, Candler Professor of Theology and Human Development and Director of the Center for Ethics. “She created a space for an issue to be discussed and then she made a decision. She inspired confidence even when she made decisions that didn’t please everyone.”


Back to Emory Report March 26, 2001