Wake Forest divinity to be led by UCC scholar
    April 29 2010 by Bob Allen, Associated Bapist Press

    WINSTON-SALEM — A female New Testament scholar and ordained United Church of Christ minister has been tapped to replace Baptist historian Bill Leonard as dean of Wake Forest University School of Divinity.

    Gail O’Day, currently senior associate dean of faculty and academic affairs and the A.H. Shatford Professor of New Testament and Preaching at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology, will become dean and professor of New Testament and Preaching at Wake Forest divinity school Aug. 1.

    WFU photo

    Gail O’Day

    Leonard, 64, founding dean of the divinity school — one of 15 seminaries, theology schools or Baptist-studies programs that partner with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship — is stepping down June 30 because of a tradition at the historically Baptist university in Winston-Salem, establishing a 10-year tenure for deans. He will remain on the faculty as chair of church history in the divinity school and the university’s religion department.
    “The School of Divinity has had an impressive record of achievement in its first decade under the founding leadership of Bill Leonard,” O’Day said in a news release. “The divinity school’s combination of ecumenical openness and Baptist heritage, together with the university’s values of academic excellence, moral formation and service, positions the school to continue to move from strength to strength in making a unique contribution to theological education.”

    O’Day is a world-renowned scholar for research on the Gospel of John, the relationship between the Old and New Testaments, the Bible and preaching and the history of biblical interpretation.

    “Gail combines an outstanding record of teaching and scholarship with strong experience as an administrator and a sense of pastoral leadership that makes her the perfect person to lead the Wake Forest Divinity School into its second decade,” said Wake Forest Provost Jill Tiefenthaler, who chaired the search committee for the new dean.

    Opened in 1999 with 24 students and Leonard serving as the sole professor, Wake Forest Divinity School currently has 101 students enrolled.

    The school has from the beginning been known for its interdisciplinary approach, described as “Christian by tradition, ecumenical in outlook and Baptist in heritage.”

    Wake Forest University President Nathan Hatch described O’Day — who holds an undergraduate degree from Brown University, a master’s degree from Harvard Divinity School and a doctorate from Emory — as “the perfect leader to steward that balance.”

    (EDITOR’S NOTE — Allen is senior writer for Associated Baptist Press.)  
    4/29/2010 6:12:00 AM by Bob Allen, Associated Bapist Press | with 7 comments

Benjamin Keach
Further proof that the "stolen" Bptist schools are no longer Baptist.
5/24/2010 11:47:46 PM

Mr. Fletcher - No need to be concerned about Baylor University - the world's largest Baptist University. Shortly after Judge Starr was announced as Baylor's new President, the largest gift in school history, $200 million, was announced. The school is experiencing a record applications and enrollment.
5/11/2010 9:27:57 PM

I don't understand the 10 year rule at WFU. Is this true for all deans? If so, Leonard has served 11 years with students (1999-), and 14 years given his arrival in 1996. The need to state the 10 year issue given his service dates is strange...
5/5/2010 10:21:46 AM

Gene Scarborough
I swear---there is never a consideration that someone just might be an intelligent Christian as opposed to a "Baptist to the bone!" Any good theological school--which WF is--can trust a Christian of intelligence over a "Committed Conservative Baptist" any day.

As a graduate of Emory University, 1967, with a BA in Psychology I was priviledged to be exposed to the best of academia. It was hard and humbling, but it was mind expansion at its best. I became a far better informed Baptist--taught how to think rather than what to think.

Today, Emory is intentionally focusing on a student body with a world outlook. They have about 1/3 of their student body coming from other countries and returning with an education and appreciaton for America. When we put "Southern Conservatism" aside and make understanding and analysis of thought first--it then becomes the kind of institution, oft quoted on CNN, Emory University it is in reality.

I just hope we never have to give up the insights of Bill Leonard anytime in the near future. Without the duties of Dean and being joined by another faculty member of such background--the best is yet to be from WF. Its theological students will greatly profit from this move!
5/2/2010 10:11:31 AM

News Flash: Wake Forest is no longer a Baptist school. From its Vision Statement: "From its rich religious heritage, Wake Forest is committed to sustaining an environment where vital beliefs and faith traditions can engage secular thought in a climate of academic freedom and an unfettered search for truth. The University embraces the challenges of religious pluralism."
5/1/2010 9:05:33 PM

Questionable choice coming from the UCC. The UCC embraces homosexuality as a viable lifestyle even for Christians. Perhaps she is moving to the Baptist fold to leave behind such beliefs.
4/30/2010 11:45:53 AM

Cyrus B. Fletcher
Dr. O'Day will likely perform very well academically. However, I must warn that criticism will be coming from old and new angles about a Baptist theology school having a Disciples dean. Wake Forest could take a lesson from all the criticism and debate that has come since Baylor hired a Church of Christ/independent non-denominational, Kenneth Starr, as President. I hope the publicity and debate does not damage the ecumenical spirit and the quality of studies at the school. Since Dr. O'Day was already on the faculty should be an advantage. Dr. Leonard staying around in an active role should help. Cy Fletcher, Baytown, TX
4/30/2010 11:45:21 AM

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