August 29, 2005
Richey to step down as Candler dean in 2006
BY Michael Terrazas
Dean Russell Richey of the Candler School of Theology announced recently that he will step down as dean following the 2005–06 academic year to return to his teaching and scholarship.
Richey has served as Candler dean since July 2000, when he left his position as professor of church history at the Duke Divinity School. From 1986–97 he served as associate dean for academic programs at Duke, and for 17 years before that he taught at Drew University’s theological and graduate schools.
“Under Russ’ leadership, Candler has made several strong new faculty appointments, has launched creative programs that build on important partnerships in Atlanta, has strengthened collaborations across the campus, has enhanced relationships with the United Methodist Church, and has laid the groundwork for major expansion and long-overdue upgrade of its facilities,” Provost Earl Lewis said. “These advances have positioned Candler well, and we are confident that the school will continue to build on its strengths under new leadership.”
Richey pointed to several of the accomplishments Lewis listed as those of which he is most proud during his tenure as dean. In addition, he mentioned a number of hirings and promotions of women and persons of color, as well as strengthening relationships between Candler and various religious denominations. Richey arrived just a few years after relationships between Emory and those denominations, particularly the United Methodist Church, were strained by controversies over extending benefits to same-sex partners of University employees and use of Emory chapels for same-sex commitment ceremonies.
“There were quite a number of persons who misconstrued those decisions, and my efforts have been focused on interpreting Candler and Emory more accurately and indicating that we will continue to be a school that welcomes persons of a range of theological perspectives,” Richey said. “Our evangelical constituents need to know Candler is place tha continues to have space for them.”
He added that he was proud of managing the school at a time of severe economic strain. In one sense, Candler is a “wealthy” school with a large institutional endowment, but in times of poor stock-market performance, dependency on endowment income can be a hindrance.
“We’ve been able to tighten our belt and live within a much tighter financial picture,” Richey said. “And we’ve been able to retain most of our top faculty and staff. In particular, Harvard, Princeton and Yale have looked again at our community, and for the most part we’ve been able to hold on to people.”
Lewis announced that Emory College Dean Bobby Paul will chair a search advisory committee to locate Richey’s successor, and that committee will include:
• Michael Brown, associate professor of New Testament;
• Nancy Eiesland, associate professor of sociology of religion;
• Thomas Frank, professor of church administration;
• Larry Goodpaster, United Methodist bishop and Emory trustee;
• Susan Henry Crowe, dean of the chapel and religious life;
• Jeannie Hunter, Candler student;
• David Bevel Jones, senior pastor of Snellville United Methodist Church;
• Shonda Jones, assistant dean of admissions and financial aid;
• Carol Newsom, professor of Old Testament; and
• Wendell Reilly, Emory trustee.