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Mary Elizabeth Moore Named STH Dean

Emory prof embraces ideals of justice, compassion, and ecological integrity


Mary Elizabeth Moore, a professor of religion and theology at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University, will take over as the new dean of the School of Theology on January 1. Photo courtesy of Mary Elizabeth Moore

After a nine-month-long search, Boston University’s oldest school has a new dean. Mary Elizabeth Moore, a professor of religion and theology and director of the Women in Theology and Ministry program at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University, will assume her duties as dean of the School of Theology beginning January 1, 2009. She will succeed Ray L. Hart, an STH professor of religion and theology, who was appointed dean ad interim in 2003, following the resignation of Robert C. Neville.

Provost David Campell, who praises Moore’s commitment to theological education, announced her appointment July 8. “Professor Moore has a solid administrative and leadership background, as well as an inspiring vision for the School of Theology and a keen interest in interacting with our other schools and colleges in the spirit of ‘One BU,’” he says. “We look forward to working with her for many years to come.”

A Louisiana native who has spent the bulk of her career in California and Georgia, Moore says she is looking forward to moving to New England. “I experience this invitation from Boston as a real calling,” she says. “I leave Emory with sadness, but I go to Boston with joy.”

An ordained deacon in the United Methodist Church, Moore’s current research focuses on eco-feminist theology and spirituality, sacramental teaching, and reconciliation theory and practice. She is particularly concerned with the meaning of the Hebrew phrase tikkun olam, translated as “repair of the world.”

“This phrase embraces the ideals of justice, compassion, peace, and ecological integrity,” she says. “I measure the value of my research and writing by its contribution to tikkun olam, and while the School of Theology does not hold the phrase at the center of its vision, I know it hopes to contribute to those same values.”

Moore earned her bachelor and master’s degrees from Southern Methodist University, where she majored in psychology, and she holds a master’s and a doctorate from the Claremont School of Theology. She taught at Claremont for 20 years before going to Emory in 1999. She has also been a visiting professor at the Princeton Theological Seminary, at Boston College, and at the Vancouver School of Theology in British Columbia. “I think religion is a fascinating subject, because it touches every aspect of people’s lives, whether they identify as religious or not,” she says. “I’ve seen the power of religion inspire great social movements for peace and justice.”

President Robert A. Brown commends the search committee’s decision. “Mary Elizabeth brings the experience of a renowned scholar and academic leader who has an understanding of the importance of professional education in divinity, of research and scholarship, and of the role that the School of Theology can play in educational and scholarly initiatives across our campus,” he says. “She has the passion and leadership skills that are needed to move the school forward as a cornerstone of the University’s urban mission.”

The founding school of Boston University, the School of Theology is the country’s oldest United Methodist seminary and one of only 10 university-based theological seminaries in the nation. Established in 1839, it is a member of the Boston Theological Institute, a consortium of nine theological schools in the Boston area.

“There’s great prestige attached to this deanship because it is the founding school of BU,” says Dana Robert, the Truman Collins Professor of World Christianity and History of Mission, who helped lead the dean search. “Mary Elizabeth is a very impressive and accomplished woman who made a universally good impression because of her ability to listen.”

Jan Love, dean of the Candler School of Theology, is confident that Moore is up to the challenge. “Boston University has a distinguished history of serving both the church and the academy,” she says. “This is a balancing act that requires skilled leadership and deep immersion in both worlds. Professor Moore thrives on these kinds of challenges, and I know she will meet them creatively and faithfully.”

Moore has written four books, Teaching as a Sacramental Act (2004); Ministering with the Earth (1998); Teaching from the Heart: Theology and Educational Method (1991); and Education for Continuity and Change: A Traditioning Model for Christian Religious Education (1983). She coauthored Called to Serve: The United Methodist Diaconate (1987).

Vicky Waltz can be reached at vwaltz@bu.edu.


7 Comments on Mary Elizabeth Moore Named STH Dean

  • Jacqulyn Thorpe on 07.10.2008 at 12:36 pm

    Mary Elizabeth Moore Named STH Dean

    CONGRATULATIONS! This is wonderful news and a blessing.

  • Marilyn on 07.21.2008 at 5:09 pm

    Mary Elizabeth Moore Named STH Dean

    Congratulations. Both surprised and thrilled for you. I know you will enjoy this new challenge, and experience great success as you have in all your endeavors. My prayers and love go with you.

  • Rev. Jeremy Smith on 07.30.2008 at 11:32 am


    That’s all I can say. Wahoo!

  • Carl R. Stockton, STB 60, D.Phil. (Oxon) on 07.30.2008 at 11:50 am

    Warmest congratulations and heartiest best wishes upon becoming Dean. As a former Academic Dean, I can tell you that your plate will be full, with a big slab of fundraising occupying more of the plate than you might like. I do hope that you can keep our longstanding mission of education for pastoral parish ministry in the mix. The need has never been greater.
    Please do not hesitate to let us alumni/ae know if we can help you in any way.

    May God be with you.
    Carl R. Stockton

  • Richard Deats on 07.30.2008 at 9:02 pm

    Mary Elizabeth Moore

    I rejoice with BUST at the selection of Dr. Moore as the new dean. Her commitment to Tikkum Olam is especially heartening as it links biblical truth with the task we face in repairing our broken world.

  • Phyllis Izant on 08.02.2008 at 5:44 pm

    Cutting the Mustard

    It’s been thirty years (1978) since Beverly Harrison endured an academic joust and trashing by John Silber and twenty-seven years (1981) since Nancy Richardson, former Dean of students at BU, was fired for what the school termed “pedagogical and ideological differences” with the administration. More relevant for me it’s been twenty years (1988) since key faculty departed BUSTH citing intolerable racism and sexism. Now we have the blessed arrival of Mary Elizabeth Moore. Can it be that BU has finally reevaluated its assumtions about merit? Has justice finally happened where justice is long overdue? Indeed, perhaps so. A research focus on eco-feminist theology and spirituality, sacramental teaching, and reconciliation theory and practice: this is fantastic! Finally, BUSTH can move forward from a destructive period of its past: the elephant that’s been in the room for a loooong time. Anna Howard Shaw and Walter Muelder would be pleased.

  • Candler alum on 03.05.2009 at 12:30 am

    BUSTh, know how blessed you are!

    The departure of our dear Mary Elizabeth Moore is a dire loss for the students and faculty of Candler, but I join my classmates in knowing that she brings awesome gifts and talents to your institution. May you enrich her life and spirit in ways that we could not, and may you know the great good fortune of her leadership for many years to come.

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