Mary Elizabeth Moore Named STH Dean
Emory prof embraces ideals of justice, compassion, and ecological integrity
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 firstname.lastname@example.org Comments