Colón-Emeric Appointed to 5-Year Term as Dean of Duke Divinity School
A global leader in ecumenical dialogue and scholar of reconciliation theology, Colón-Emeric has been at the Divinity School since 2007
Colón-Emeric, the Irene and William McCutchen Professor of Reconciliation and Theology, became founding director of the Hispanic House of Studies in 2007 and joined the Divinity School faculty in 2008. Under his leadership, the school launched the Hispanic Preaching Initiative and Certificate in Latinx Studies. He also expanded field education opportunities for divinity students through his work in Latin America as the director of the Central American Methodist Course of Study and the Peru Theological Initiative.
Before his appointment as dean in 2021, Colón-Emeric served as the associate dean for academic formation at the Divinity School; he has been the director of the school’s Center for Reconciliation since 2018. He led the center’s efforts to expand its capacities and programs, including the launch of The Americas Initiative that brings together scholars and ministry practitioners from across the Americas to support reconciliation work.
“Edgardo impressed the search committee with his wide experience, his authenticity, and his deep love for Duke University and Duke Divinity School. He is a thoughtful, humble, and inspirational leader who is committed to cultivating all students, staff, and faculty so they can best develop the skills they need to address our world’s many pressing challenges. As a committee we were excited by his commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and his desire to strengthen congregations, heal communities, and foster outstanding scholarship.”Norman Wirzba, chair of the search committee
“Duke is a place where great academic passions and great commitments to service come together to equip students, develop programs and build partnerships to make a difference in our world,” Colón-Emeric said. “We need intellectually vibrant, spiritually grounded, and socially innovative leaders for such a time as this. As we enter Duke’s centennial year in 2024 and Duke Divinity’s centennial year in 2026, we have occasion, Primero Dios, to reflect on our history, renew our vision, and recommit to our mission in service of the church, the academy and the world.”
A scholar of systematics and Wesleyan theology, Colón-Emeric is known globally for his ecumenical work on Methodist-Catholic dialogue and extensive teaching and training of pastors in Latin America. As the Methodist chair of the Methodist-Roman Catholic International Commission (MERCIC), he has led delegations for dialogue and consultations with Pope Francis at the Vatican. His extensive research and publishing on the El Salvadoran archbishop Saint Óscar Romero has informed both ecumenical discussions in Latin America and the development of the Transformative Preaching Lab at Duke Divinity School, which is designed to equip preachers to address trauma and cultural diversity.
During Colón-Emeric’s service as dean, the Divinity School successfully launched the Hybrid Master of Divinity degree program, combining remote coursework with intensive residential learning sessions that afford students greater flexibility to balance full-time work and study. The school also witnessed record annual giving and philanthropic support for sponsored programs.
This month, the Divinity School celebrated the 50th anniversary of its Office of Black Church Studies, one of the earliest Black Church offices among all U.S. theological schools, which has played a key role in preserving and sharing resources from the Black Church alongside racial justice efforts and support for students of color at Duke University. Colón-Emeric’s support for racial justice advocacy included securing funding for full-tuition fellowships available for Divinity School students pursuing certificates in Black Church Studies or Latinx Studies.
“Edgardo impressed the search committee with his wide experience, his authenticity, and his deep love for Duke University and Duke Divinity School,” said search committee chair Wirzba. “He is a thoughtful, humble, and inspirational leader who is committed to cultivating all students, staff, and faculty so they can best develop the skills they need to address our world’s many pressing challenges. As a committee we were excited by his commitments to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and his desire to strengthen congregations, heal communities, and foster outstanding scholarship.”
Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Colón-Emeric earned his Ph.D. and M.Div. from Duke and a bachelor’s degree in engineering from Cornell University. He was founding pastor of Cristo Vive United Methodist Church in Durham, and was the first Latino to be ordained as elder in the North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church.