Centennial News

Candler Centennial News

As part of the Centennial, we produced a package of materials that provided an overview, fun facts, quotes and a variety of other interesting tidbits about the school. In addition, we compiled all of the news stories and event recaps, showcasing the people, events and ideas that made up the Centennial celebration.

"[While] the School of Theology has already rendered a splendid service to the church that founded it… it must be prepared to meet the needs of a constantly changing world. Its most vital need is to connect religion with the actual living of the people."

-Candler’s second dean, Franklin N. Parker, to Emory’s first president, Harvey Cox, 1936.

"One of the things I feel about the importance of what we do in a theological institution is to not so much tell students where they need to line up on a particular social issue, which can be very controversial in the life of the church. It's our responsibility to help students understand how you have a conversation about these controversial social issues. How you enable people to see what the faith dimension of an issue is, so that an issue isn't simply reduced to partisan politics or political ideology."

-Luther Smith, Professor Emeritus of Church and Community

"I think Candler in these 100 years has always had a wonderful, edgy relationship with the actual structures of the church. On the one hand, we try to be faithful to the fact that we need to form leadership for the church as it is. Candler has always had this other odd little thing, namely, the church as it might be. No, the church as it ought to be."

-Don E. Saliers, William R. Cannon Distinguished Professor of Theology and Worship, Emeritus; Theologian-in-Residence

"The role of Candler is integral to the very idea of Emory."

-James T. Laney, dean emeritus of Candler School of Theology (1969-1977) and president emeritus of Emory University (1977-1993)

"Candler in some sense helps both to anchor Emory and to complete it. It provides a form of social conscience that centers us and anchors us at certain times. It completes the notion that a university surely should feel free to welcome thought universally, to understand, 'Yes, there is the realm of known, which is what we teach, and the unknown, which is what we research, and the unknowable, which is still a rich component of understanding truth.'"

-James W. Wagner, Emory president (2003-2016)

"Candler’s reputation for teachers of preaching is second to none. We take very seriously what this thing called ‘preaching’ is all about. That’s evident in our writing and our speaking around the world, and I think that’s something Candler should be proud of."

-Teresa L. Fry Brown, Bandy Professor of Preaching

"The folks who come to seminary are deeply dedicated to making a profound, positive difference in the world. And so, in some respects, you have to say, 'Stand back and watch them work their wonder.'"

-Jan Love, Candler dean

"There is a necessary self-examination that the Centennial ought to help engender. What have we been good at? What have we been progressive at? What things have we been regressive in? What are the points that we have to push harder to become who we might become in the future? And if we are simply smug about our past then that won't be accomplished."

-Luke Timothy Johnson, R.W. Woodruff Professor Emeritus of New Testament and Christian Origins, and chair of Candler’s centennial celebration

Candler School of Theology

  • Enrollment in 1914 was 69 students. Tuition was free; fees, books, room and board cost $187.  The theology school was one of the first buildings to be constructed on the Druid Hills campus, in what is now the former Pitts Theology Library building.

  • In 1935, Candler faculty approved admission for non-Methodist students.

  • By 1937, 270 bachelor of divinity degrees had been conferred. Of those alumni, one wrote the Emory alma mater, one wrote Emory’s centennial history, one became dean of Oxford College, and one became president of the University of Chicago.

  • Mary Vaughn Johnson was the first woman to be awarded the bachelor of divinity degree in 1938.

  • Half of the 48 graduates in 1943 became military chaplains during World War II.

  • In 1945 tuition started at $100 per quarter. In 1953, it rose to $175. By 1970, it was $400 per quarter.

  • Bishops Hall opened in 1957. Some 6,000 students passed through its doors until its demolition in 2013 to make way for the new Pitts Theology Library building.

  • Otis Turner, Candler’s first African American student, enrolled in 1965. He received his divinity degree and his PhD in social ethics at Emory.

  • James T. Laney was appointed dean in 1969. In his first four years as dean, Laney grew the faculty by 50 percent, including Grant Shockley, Candler’s first full-time African American faculty member. Enrollment also rose 7.7 percent.

  • In 1971, Candler’s program of supervised ministry took shape as the first of its kind in the country. Notably, it paired faculty with field supervisors. “It was important because they would hear the students in their struggle outside of the classroom,” says Laney. The program is now known as Contextual Education, or Con Ed.

  • The Episcopal Studies program (first called Anglican Studies) began in 1974 and is the oldest university-based Episcopal ministry education program in the country.

  • In 1976, enrollment was 588, making Candler the largest United Methodist seminary in the world.

  • Roberta Bondi became the first female faculty member on the tenure track in 1978. Carol Newsom became the second in 1979. From 1978 to 1993, nine women joined Candler as tenure-track faculty.

  • Paul Rudolph, acclaimed architect and son of Candler’s first graduate Keener L. Rudolph, designed Cannon Chapel, which opened in 1981. In its first year the chapel hosted more than 600 events, liturgical and otherwise, attended by a cumulative total of nearly 56,000 people.

  • Archbishop Desmond Tutu became the first Nobel Laureate on the faculty when he served as Visiting Woodruff Professor in 1991.

  • Jan Love became Candler’s first female dean in 2007.

  • As of 2009, Candler boasted the largest tenured or tenure-track African-American faculty of any seminary in the country.

  • In the 2009-2010 school year, one-third of all the books published by Emory University faculty were authored or edited by Candler faculty members.


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Pitts Theology Library

  • In 1914, Warren Akin Candler acquired two collections that included 2,500 rare books, manuscripts and letters of the Wesleys and others, as well as Bishop Francis Asbury’s razor and New Testament. By 1939 this Wesleyana collection was second only to the combined collections of Wesley’s City Road Chapel and the Methodist Publishing House in London.

  • During its early years the library added only 200 volumes a year. In 1937, it had just under 14,000 volumes.

  • In 1975, Candler purchased the Hartford Theological Seminary library collection, which was made available when the Connecticut seminary changed its mission. Dean James T. Laney negotiated university approval of the school’s $1.75 million bid (an average of $8 a book), which was funded by private donations and foundation support.

  • The shipping manifests for the two moving companies used to transport the collection note that one company moved 1,794 cartons, while the other moved 7,545 cartons of books, periodicals and pamphlets.

  • “Never before in the history of American higher education has a book collection of this size and quality been transferred from one institution to another over so many miles.” – Channing Jeschke, Margaret A. Pitts Professor of Theological Bibliography and Librarian, 1971-1994

  • With about 220,000 books, the Hartford collection pushed the holdings of the Pitts Theology Library from around 90,000 volumes to more than 300,000. It jumped from 45th-largest theological library in North America to sixth or seventh.

  • Donor Margaret Pitts helped underwrite the $3,450,000 to purchase and transport the Hartford collection and renovate the building to house the library. The new library was named Pitts Theology Library in honor of Miss Pitts and her father, both generous supporters of Methodist causes. “Miss Pitts, you are Candler School of Theology’s candidate for Miss Georgia of 1976 or any other year,” Jeschke proclaimed during the dedication on November 11, 1976.

  • Jeschke built special collections in four areas: the Reformation in Germany, English religious materials from 1660 until World War I, theological dissertations of the 17th and 18th centuries, and primary and periodical literature of the African churches.

  • Today, Pitts Theology Library contains more than 610,000 volumes and is among the top three theology libraries in North America.

  • In 2000-2001, the library began digitizing images – 2,300 in the first year – and putting them online in the Pitts Digital Image archive. This extensive archive, which contains rare materials related to the Reformation, English Catholicism, hymnody and more, is a treasure trove of sources available for anyone in the world to access and use for non-commercial purposes.  By 2014, the archive had amassed more than 50,000 digital images and continues to grow. Pitts also collaborates with other Methodist seminary libraries on the Digitization of American Methodism project, downloading primary and secondary sources about American Methodism and placing them in one location accessible to all.

  • In 2013, the library completed processing a gift of 85,000 volumes from the General Theological Seminary in New York City, which added to its holdings 25,424 monographs, 428 periodicals and 2,721 special collections titles.  

  • Phase II of Candler’s building project was completed in August 2014. Its 63,600 square feet house the Wesley Teaching Chapel, a learning commons, and the new Pitts Theology Library. The library includes upgraded technology, high-density shelving, a dedicated special collections area, increased space for small-group study and seminar rooms for larger group study. It also features an 80-seat lecture hall and 1,000 square feet of adjacent exhibit space.


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