March 26, 2001
By Jan Gleason
Provost Rebecca Chopp is leaving Emory to become dean of Yales divinity school. She will assume leadership of Yales interdenomi-national, nonsectarian, graduate divinity school on July 1.
Chopp is the 13thand first femaledean 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
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 Emorys 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 Chopps 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 Emorys 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
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 Yales 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 Womens Center. I hate to see her go, but I understand
that this was a vocational decision.
When I reflect about Rebeccas 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 didnt please everyone.