Skip to main content

Divinity Dean Richard Hays Stepping Down Aug. 1

Professor Ellen Davis to serve as interim dean

Richard B. Hays, dean of the Duke Divinity School, will step down on August 1 to begin treatment for pancreatic cancer.

Hays, the George Washington Ivey Professor of New Testament, has served as dean since 2010.  Under his leadership, the school has appointed 20 new faculty members, launched three new degree programs, raised nearly $90 million as part of the Duke Forward campaign, and  emphasized new initiatives in Theology and the Arts and in Theology, Medicine, and Culture.

Writing to the Divinity School community this morning, Hays said, “It has been a great privilege to serve for the past five years as Dean of this extraordinary community of learning and service—and even more than that, to serve for the past twenty-four years as a teacher of the New Testament here at Duke.  I have great confidence that in the days ahead our faculty, staff, and students will continue the work of shaping scriptural imagination for the renewal of the church.”

Ellen Davis, the Amos Ragan Kearns Distinguished Professor of Bible and Practical Theology, has been named interim dean for the 2015-16 academic year by President Richard H. Brodhead and Provost Sally Kornbluth.

In an email message to faculty and students, Brodhead and Kornbluth said, “We are grateful for Richard’s devotion to Duke and his success in lifting the Divinity School to fulfill its mission of teaching, scholarship, training church leaders, and service in the world.  We also appreciate Ellen’s willingness to serve in this capacity and know that she will bring steady wisdom to the role.”

Hays had earlier announced his intention to step down at the end of the upcoming academic year and a search committee chaired by Randy Maddox, the William Kellon Quick Professor of Wesleyan and Methodist Studies and Associate Dean for Faculty Development, has begun work and will proceed as scheduled.