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Search launches for next dean of Candler School of Theology
Photo of front of Candler School of Theology building

On Jan. 17, Ravi V. Bellamkonda, Emory University provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, announced the official launch of the search for the next dean of Candler School of Theology.

The 14-member search advisory committee, which includes faculty, staff, students, alumni and church leaders, has released a formal position description and launched a search website for the position. The committee is chaired by Kimberly Jacob Arriola, dean of The James T. Laney School of Graduate Studies and vice provost for graduate affairs, along with co-chair Jonathan Strom, professor of church history and director of international initiatives at Candler.

“The Candler deanship is a vital role — the school is not only integral to Emory's identity, but proudly serves as a seminary of The United Methodist Church,” says Bellamkonda. “We seek an imaginative leader who will steer the school towards a promising future, fostering theological scholarship and nurturing student flourishing. Theological inquiry and spiritual well-being are global concerns, and we believe Candler School of Theology has important contributions to make through its service to humanity worldwide.

The search process began in the fall with a series of listening sessions with stakeholders from Candler, across Emory and beyond that shaped the vision for the type of leader the community is seeking.

“The ideas, feedback and significant interest in these sessions are a testament to the enthusiasm of this community and its collective desire to find a leader who will continue Candler’s forward movement,” says Arriola. “I am profoundly thankful for the invaluable insights shared thus far.”

Founded in 1914, Candler School of Theology is a leading theology school, with more than 400 students, 40 full-time faculty and 60 staff members. The dean is responsible for all matters related to the administration of the school, including student experience, academic programming, faculty and staff leadership, finances and philanthropy, alumni relations, community relations and collaboration throughout the institution.

“We look forward to identifying a new leader who will elevate Candler’s academic impact, nurture the school's ties with The United Methodist Church and other denominations, increase support to students, recruit and retain top-tier scholars, and continue prioritizing diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice,” says Strom.

Bellamkonda anticipates the search advisory committee will name a new dean by late spring 2024.

Jan Love, the Mary Lee Hardin Willard Dean of Candler School of Theology, previously shared her plans to step down after serving as dean for more than 17 years. Love will return to the faculty as a professor of Christianity and world politics following the conclusion of her current term in summer 2024.

“Dean Love deserves praise for energetic and thoughtful leadership during this transition period,” Bellamkonda says. “The next dean will certainly benefit from her capable administration focused on student flourishing and faculty eminence.”

Emory has retained the executive search firm Spencer Stuart to coordinate the process in partnership with the search committee. The firm has extensive experience not only in higher education recruitment, but in identifying leaders for theological and divinity schools.

The Emory community may continue to participate in the search process by providing input and submitting nominations or applications via the search website or the confidential email Spencer Stuart has established:

Candler School of Theology Dean Search Advisory Committee

Chair: Kimberly Jacob Arriola, Dean of The James T. Laney School of Graduate Studies and Vice Provost for Graduate Affairs 

Co-Chair: Jonathan Strom, Professor of Church History and Director of International Initiatives in Candler School of Theology 


  • Bill Britt 83T, Senior Minister, Peachtree Road United Methodist Church
  • Lori Cromwell, Chief Business Officer, Candler School of Theology
  • Connor Felty 25T, Student
  • Jehu Hanciles, D.W. and Ruth Brooks Professor of World Christianity and Director of World Christianity
  • Allison Henderson-Brooks 19T, Assistant Dean of Students
  • Joel LeMon 07G, The Rev. Dr. Donald Harp Jr. Distinguished Associate Professor of Biblical Studies
  • Ellen Ott Marshall, Professor of Christian Ethics and Conflict Transformation and Director of the Graduate Division Religion
  • Bishop William T. (Bill) McAlilly 81T, Nashville Episcopal Area of the United Methodist Church
  • Natalie Murdock 25T, Student
  • Bishop Janice Riggle Huie 89T, Candler School of Theology Board of Advisors
  • Joanne Solis-Walker, Professor in the Practice of Leadership and Associate Dean of La Mesa Academy
  • Khalia Williams, Associate Professor in the Practice of Worship, Associate Dean of Worship and Spiritual Formation and Co-Director of Baptist Studies

Search Administrator: Melissa J. Daly, Associate Vice Provost for Executive Operations and Strategy,

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