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Richard Hays Selected As Divinity School Dean
Durham, NC - Richard B. Hays has been appointed to a full term as dean of Duke Divinity School, a role he assumed on a two-year basis in August 2010, President Richard H. Brodhead and Provost Peter Lange announced Monday.
Hays, the George Washington Ivey Professor of New Testament, is a scholar of the letters of Paul and on New Testament ethics. His work has bridged the disciplines of biblical criticism and literary studies, exploring the innovative ways in which early Christian writers interpreted Israel's Scripture.
Hays' appointment as the school's 12th dean comes after a six-month national search.
"I am very pleased that Richard has agreed to a full term as dean," Lange said. "He has already led the Divinity School in exciting directions and has implemented new programs with skill and finesse. Richard's leadership of the faculty in a period of change will be particularly welcome, as will his strong and collegial relationships with his fellow deans."
Brodhead added: "Richard Hays embodies the union of faith and knowledge that lies at the heart of the Divinity School's mission. He has led the school's broad work of scholarship and spiritual training with wisdom, devotion and imagination. Duke is lucky to have him continue his service in this key role."
Hays came to Duke in 1991 from the faculty of the Yale Divinity School, where he earlier received a Master of Divinity degree. He earned a Ph.D. at Emory University. His book, "The Moral Vision of the New Testament: Community, Cross, New Creation," was selected by Christianity Today as one of the 100 most important religious books of the 20th century. His other influential books include "Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul" and "The Conversion of the Imagination." He has lectured widely in North America, Europe, Israel, Australia and New Zealand.
"Duke Divinity School combines world-leading scholarly excellence in theological studies with a strong commitment to the training of ministerial leadership for the church. No other theological school in the world so compellingly unites learning, faith and service," Hays said. "It is a great honor to be invited by President Brodhead and Provost Lange to continue to serve as dean. In community with our superb faculty, staff and students, I will do everything I can to lead the Divinity School forward faithfully and imaginatively."
Ellen Davis, the Amos Ragan Kearns Distinguished Professor of Bible and Practical Theology, chaired the 13-person search committee whose members were drawn from the Divinity School faculty, other university faculty, Duke's board and administration, the United Methodist Church and Duke Chapel.
"While we had some truly excellent candidates, we came to the conclusion after much deliberation and prayer that the best choice for the Divinity School at this time is the person who has been serving as dean for the past two years," Davis said. "Richard has brought both innovation and stability to the Divinity School during an important transition, and he is an energetic advocate for the centrality of theological education within the larger ministry of the church. He is also an exemplary university citizen who has embraced and advanced the school's many connections to other parts of Duke, as well as to the wider community.
"Although Richard was not initially a candidate, when we saw clearly the most crucial needs of the school at this moment, we asked him to reconsider, feeling strongly that his vision and experience are what we have been seeking."
An ordained United Methodist minister, Hays has preached in settings ranging from rural Oklahoma churches to London's Westminster Abbey. He has chaired the Pauline Epistles Section of the Society of Biblical Literature as well as the Seminar on New Testament Ethics in the Society for New Testament Studies, and has served on the editorial boards of several leading scholarly journals. As dean, he succeeded L. Gregory Jones, who served from 1997-2010.
Founded in 1926 as the first of Duke's graduate professional schools, the Divinity School attracts students from around the world. One of 13 seminaries founded and supported by the United Methodist Church, it offers two doctoral and five master's level degrees, as well as dual-degree programs with social work and law.