Candler History

A History of Candler School of Theology

Since opening its doors in 1914, Candler School of Theology has richly reflected the trials and aspirations of the past century, while also helping to imagine and build a world more in tune with the good news of the gospel. The school created over a hundred years ago has provided a home for reflection, critical study, and inspiration to men and women from many walks of faith, including every expression of Methodism.* This timeline traces the history of the school, and the events that shaped what it is today.


Kirkland Hall, Vanderbilt University, before the 1905 fireMarch 21: The story of Candler School of Theology begins 250 miles away, in Nashville. The leaders of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South (MECS) had established Central University in 1872—renamed a year later as Vanderbilt—as a flagship institution of higher education for the church. Though not designed as a seminary, the school served as the principal site of formal education for ministers in the southeast.

Methodist Episcopal <br />Church South MarkerAs the founding entity, MECS believed it had the exclusive right to elect members to the Vanderbilt Board of Trust, but in 1910, when the Board of Trust refused the bishops’ choices for membership, the school and the church entered into a lawsuit.

On March 21, the Tennessee State Supreme Court upholds the rights of the Vanderbilt board to appoint its own members without church approval. Indignant, MECS elects to sever all ties with Vanderbilt.

Warren Akin CandlerJune 17: An Educational Commission appointed by the Methodist Episcopal Church, South (MECS) meets for the first time in Birmingham, Alabama. Bishop Warren Akin Candler, an alumnus of Emory College in Oxford, Georgia and the school’s former president is the commission’s chair. The General Conference of MECS had recommended that the commission establish two universities, one west of the Mississippi River and one east. Southern Methodist University in Dallas, already in development, was designated the western university. The Educational Commission, in addition to deciding on the location of the university in the Southeast, was further charged with establishing a place where pastors-in-training at Vanderbilt could continue their education by the fall.

Copy of the original letterJuly 16: The Educational Commission meets again in Atlanta; by this time, Birmingham and Atlanta are the main contenders for the location of the new university. At this meeting, the commission is read a letter from Asa Candler, founder of The Coca-Cola Company and brother of commission chair Warren Candler. In the letter, Asa Candler promises one million dollars for the endowment of the southeastern university. Though he doesn’t stipulate that the school be sited in Atlanta, he makes reference to the assistance of “fellow citizens of Atlanta,” and the commission votes unanimously for the Atlanta location. Warren Candler is appointed chancellor of the new university.

Though Asa Candler’s so-called “million-dollar letter” is the most dramatic factor in the commission’s decision to pursue a university in Atlanta, a few smaller key factors are also in play. The Atlanta Chamber of Commerce had pledged $500,000 to the new university, Wesley Memorial Church in downtown had space that could be used by the fall for instruction in theology, and the Wesley Memorial Hospital, owned by MECS, offered potential for a future medical school.

Dean Plato T. DurhamJuly 31: In an announcement published in the Nashville Christian Advocate, Warren Candler reveals his appointments for the first six members of the theology school faculty and states that instruction will begin in September. Several days later, in a meeting of the Educational Commission, a seventh faculty member is added. Plato T. Durham, one of the first six faculty named, is elected dean. Durham had served as secretary of the Educational Commission and was also charged with teaching church history. The new faculty—Plato T. Durham, Henry Hugh Harris, Henry Clay Howard, William Arthur Shelton, Andrew Warren Sledd, Wyatt Aiken Smart, and William James Young—meets for the first time in August to begin developing a curriculum.

August 5: With the pressing issue of the theology school settled, the Educational Commission begins work on its initial task of developing a university in the Southeast. At a meeting of the Board of Trustees, Emory College in Oxford offers its assets to the commission with the understanding that it would become the undergraduate division of the university. The commission resolves to name the entire university Emory in recognition of the college’s history.

September 23: The theology school begins instruction at Wesley Memorial Church with 69 students enrolled. Some of the first students transfer from Vanderbilt, while many have no college degree. Thanks to Asa Candler’s gift, tuition for the theology school is free, while fees, books, and room and board amount to $187 for the year. The trustees set up scholarships of $100 to offset these costs.


Excavation site of the <br />new universityJanuary 25: The Superior Court of DeKalb County grants the new university’s charter. Construction on the Atlanta campus is underway in the city’s Druid Hills neighborhood.

February: The university trustees vote to name the first theology school Candler—though the meeting’s minutes don’t indicate definitively whether the name is in honor of Warren or Asa Candler.

Spring: Candler School of Theology confers its first three degrees at the commencement ceremonies in Oxford. Arthur P. Ratledge, who did not have a bachelor’s level degree upon entering Candler, receives a diploma. Keener L. Rudolph and Robert H. Ruff receive the first bachelor of divinity degrees, with Rudolph officially serving as Candler’s first divinity graduate by virtue of the alphabet.


September: The theology school moves from Wesley Memorial Church to the Druid Hills campus. The first two academic buildings on campus, designed by Henry Hornbostel, are designated for theology and law. The theology building includes classrooms, faculty offices, a library, and a chapel. Two dormitories, Dobbs Hall and Winship Hall, are also completed to house theology students.


April: The United States enters World War I, which leads to a drop in enrollment, from 134 students in 1916 to 77 students in 1918.


November: Plato T. Durham resigns as dean after a mutinous faculty meeting. No minutes of the meeting exist, so the exact charges are unclear, but the faculty was unhappy with Durham’s administrative performance and threatened to quit if he didn’t. Durham remains on the faculty for 11 more years, until his death. The chapel in the theology building would later be named in his honor.


Dean Franklin ParkerJanuary: Warren Candler appoints Franklin Nutting Parker, professor of systematic theology, as the second dean of the school.


Aerial of Emory University campusWarren Candler is relieved of his duties as university chancellor, a move he had been requesting since 1918. Franklin N. Parker is retained as acting chancellor, but he refuses the permanent job. Harvey W. Cox becomes the first President of Emory University.


Candler faculty elect to offer admission to female students, despite the fact that the Methodist Episcopal Church, South (MECS) does not offer a path to ordination for women. Sixteen years would pass before a woman enrolls. Prior to relinquishing his duties as chancellor, Warren Candler had written several letters expressing his objection to coeducation.


Wyatt Aiken SmartFranklin N. Parker reports to Harvey W. Cox and the Board of Trustees on Candler’s difficulty maintaining robust enrollment. There is a belief among some clergy in the Southeast that formal theological education is unnecessary for pastors, and that if theological education is desired, then Candler is a much too liberal place to acquire it. The latter charge of “modernism” had been an issue at Vanderbilt two decades earlier and was a factor in the Methodist Episcopal Church, South (MECS) completely severing ties with the school rather than trying to mend the rift over the unseated board members.

Andrew SleddThis reputation of liberalism and modernism is largely due to faculty members Wyatt Aiken Smart and Andrew Sledd; both scholars delved into the historic, cultural, and literary contexts of the Bible, which suggested disparagement of the Scriptures to those who accepted the Bible as a timeless document of faith. Parker and the university support the faculty’s academic freedom, even if it might deviate from Methodist tradition. This support of scholarly freedom must have seemed especially novel to Sledd, who had been fired from Emory College’s faculty in 1902 for his writings on race issues.

October: The Stock Market Crash of 1929 kicks off the Great Depression, which causes financial strain for the school and students alike. Enrollment falls and faculty salaries are cut. Despite financial difficulties, Parker pushes university leadership for more scholarship funds for theology students.


Candler faculty approves admission for non-Methodist students.


Deans Parker and TrimbleFranklin N. Parker appoints Emmett S. Johnson to the faculty as Assistant Professor of Church Administration and Director of Field Work. Johnson had been working as Emory University’s coordinator of religious life, and in this position, he had become convinced that theological students should serve off-campus to better understand the realities of working in a church. Previously, only students receiving financial aid had worked in the field. Along with Professor Lavens M. Thomas, a 1924 Candler graduate, Johnson creates a required course of supervised field work.

June: Franklin N. Parker retires as dean; by this point, Candler had bestowed more than 270 bachelor of divinity degrees. Parker would retire from the faculty five years later. Henry Burton Trimble is appointed as the new dean. Trimble had been recruited to Candler in 1931 and was professor of homiletics.


Mary Vaughn JohnsonMary Vaughn Johnson, wife of Candler professor Emmett S. Johnson, becomes the first woman to be awarded Emory’s bachelor of divinity degree. The title of her thesis was “Job Analysis of a Mother of Preschool Children, as Indicated by Eight Mothers Whose Husbands Were Students in Candler School of Theology Summer 1936.”


The Methodist Episcopal Church, South (MECS) reunites with northern branches of Methodist Episcopal Church and the Methodist Protestant Church to form The Methodist Church. The regional schism had occurred in 1844 due to the issue of slavery.


Kiyoshi Tanimoto, circa 1940The United States is involved in World War II, which has various effects on the school. As men enlist, enrollment falls; faculty focus on training the remaining students for military chaplaincy, a pursuit that half of the graduating class of 1943 would pursue. When a Japanese Candler student, Tatsumasa Shirakawa, is arrested as an “alien enemy,” Henry Burton Trimble intervenes and negotiates his release. Kiyoshi Tanimoto, a 1940 graduate of Candler, is serving a Methodist Church in Hiroshima when the atomic bomb is dropped.


Candler School of Theology in winterRecognizing the predominance of rural churches, Candler initiates a Town and Country School, which offers short, intense training programs for rural and small-town pastors. The success of the program inspires the creation of a parallel School for Urban Ministers a year later, as well as the School of Accepted Supply Pastors, a summer program for part-time ministers lacking theological training.

For the first time, Candler charges tuition—$100 per quarter.


While World War II caused enrollment at Candler to precipitously drop, the G.I. bill leads to its regrowth, as men returning from war seek educational opportunities. Candler students in the early decades had mostly been single men, but this admission boom includes married students. In 1946, Henry Burton Trimble reports that enrollment might have been higher if more housing had been available, specifically housing for couples and families. Surplus military trailers are set up on campus while Gilbert and Wesley Halls are built.


The military had required that chaplains have a college degree as well as a degree from an accredited seminary, and following the war, the American Association of Theological Schools pushes for a formalization of this curriculum for all clergy. As a result, Candler’s curriculum and structure undergoes various changes. With the increasing student body and the changes in organization creating new demands on faculty’s time, the system of field work put in place in 1937 is deemed no longer viable.

For the first time, Candler’s faculty includes non-Methodists, a response to a growing sense of ecumenism in the post-war world.


Committee of One Hundred, circa 1953Candler School of Theology is the third-largest seminary of The Methodist Church. With student enrollment continuing to grow, Henry Burton Trimble identifies the need for increased faculty, space, and scholarships. He seeks support in several different ways: He appeals to local congregations to provide donations and work scholarships for students, he negotiates with the Southeastern Jurisdiction of The Methodist Church to raise funds, and he organizes a Theological Advisory Committee of laymen and ministers in attempts to build support. This last idea would eventually become the group known as the Committee of One Hundred.


Henry Burton Trimble steps down as dean to take on full-time development work, at the request of Emory University’s president, Goodrich C. White. White appoints William R. Cannon, a professor of church history, as the next dean of the theology school.

Left to right: William Mallard, Theodore Weber, Hendrikus Boers, Ted Runyon, Manfred Hoffmann, courtesy of the Runyon familyIn his first five years as dean, Cannon makes several faculty appointments that would shape the school significantly, including Clinton Gardner, William Mallard, Manfred Hoffmann, Ted Runyon, Theodore Weber, and Hendrikus Boers, who would come to be called the “young Turks.” In addition to bringing in international faculty members from Germany, Great Britain, and South Africa, Cannon also appoints the first Jewish faculty member, Immanuel Ben-Dor, a native of Israel.


William R. Cannon and Goodrich C. White invite bishops of the Southeastern Jurisdiction to campus to explain the pressing need for a new building for Candler. The cost was estimated at $750,000, which the bishops set about raising.


Bishops Hall, circa 1957January 5: Candler holds a groundbreaking for the new building, which is named Bishops Hall in honor of the bishops who raised the funds. Construction proceeds so quickly that students and faculty are able to use the new building in September of the same year.

April: William R. Cannon appoints a faculty committee to review the legal codes of the nation and provide recommendations on admitting black students. The faculty voice their “willingness and readiness” to teach Black students, but Emory’s Board of Trustees does not take any action on the report. At the time, state law stipulated that any university that offered instruction to black students would lose their tax-exempt status.

Early draft of Ministers' ManifestoNovember 3: Amid tensions and turmoil regarding racial integration, the “Ministers’ Manifesto” is published in local newspapers. It calls for moderation, the rule of law, freedom of speech, mutual respect, preservation of the public schools, racial harmony, and prayerful consideration of a way forward. Alumni of Candler and Emory make up a significant portion of the 80 signatories on the letter. A year later, Atlanta newspapers would publish another open letter from Emory faculty and administrators reiterating the need to protect the public schools; nearly all of the theology faculty signs the letter.


Emory’s graduate school, established in 1919, prepares to admit its first PhD candidate in religion. William R. Cannon appoints Mack Stokes, Candler’s associate dean, as the chair of the graduate department to guide the program, while theology school professors are called upon to teach doctoral students.


Emory University claims that the state laws governing tax exemption infringe on academic freedom, and the Georgia Supreme Court agrees. The university and its schools are now free to admit Black students without losing tax-exempt status.


Otis Turner, far leftFall: Candler’s first Black student, Otis Turner, enrolls. Turner had graduated from Albany State University and volunteered with the Peace Corps before attending Candler. He received not only his divinity degree at Candler but also a PhD in social ethics at Emory. Turner would go on to teach at Wofford College in addition to ministering for the Presbyterian Church (USA).


Spring:  Time magazine’s cover story features a group of American theologians whose scholarly work suggested that if Christ had been crucified, then God, too, had died. One of the theologians is Thomas J.J. Altizer, a religion professor in Emory College. The magazine’s cover was a Black background with bright red letters asking, “Is God Dead?”

Thomas J.J. AlitzerThe story and its attention-grabbing cover provokes an emotional response in the American public, which begins inundating the Emory president’s office with phone calls and letter’s demanding Altizer’s dismissal. Many people erroneously assume that Altizer is a member of the theology school faculty, spurring William R. Cannon to make a public statement defending Altizer’s right to academic freedom.

While Altizer’s job is secured, Candler professor William Mallard is subjected to an evaluation by Cannon and the senior faculty of the theology school for his support of Altizer. Mallard had written letters of support for Altizer’s scholarship to local newspapers, as well as an essay evaluating the theology of the movement, and as a result, he is required to submit a written statement of his theological views and complete a six-hour interview with the faculty. They conclude that he can stay.


April 23: The Methodist Church merges with the Evangelical United Brethren Church to form The United Methodist Church.

Summer: William R. Cannon is elected to the episcopacy of The United Methodist Church, necessitating his resignation of the deanship. Associate Dean Mack Stokes is appointed acting dean. While Cannon was appointed dean directly by Emory’s president, by 1968, the university bylaws include a prescriptive process for the search and appointment of a new dean. The committee considers more than 50 candidates.


James LaneyThe search committee nominates James T. Laney for the deanship. Laney had served in the Korean War, pastored a Methodist church in Ohio, and taught courses in theology and ethics in Korea. He had received his doctorate from Yale and was on faculty at Vanderbilt when he was appointed. Initial response to Laney is lukewarm: The faculty vote approving him is a slim 13-8, and bishops from the Southeastern Jurisdiction complain. When Laney questions whether he should accept the appointment, a group of faculty members who call themselves “the young Turks”—the group includes William Mallard, Ted Runyon, Hendrikus Boers, and Manfred Hoffman—send a jovial telegram encouraging him to come.


Fall: Tuition now costs $400 a quarter.


Fall: Charles Gerkin, appointed professor of Clinical Pastoral Education by James T. Laney the previous year, leads the design of a three-year program of supervised ministry as a requirement of the curriculum. In addition to field placements in places ranging from hospitals to homeless shelters to local churches, the program also includes time for reflection seminars led by faculty. This program would come to be known as Contextual Education, or ConEd.


In his first four years as dean, James T. Laney grows the faculty by 50 percent. Notable appointments include Harry Moon, who would launch the Candler Choraliers, Grant Shockley, Candler’s first full-time Black faculty member, E. Brooks Holifield, Don Saliers, Rodney Hunter, Walter James Lowe, Leander Keck, and Donald Shriver Jr.


The Anglican Studies program begins. Later renamed Episcopal Studies, the program is the oldest university-based Episcopal ministry education program in the country.


In a ranking of North American professional schools, Change magazine ranks Candler as the sixth-best theology or divinity school, behind Harvard, Yale, Chicago, Princeton, and Union in New York.

Professor Jeschke with Bible from newly acquired library collectionCandler librarian Channing Jeschke persuades James T. Laney to purchase the Hartford Theological Seminary library collection, which is made available when the Connecticut seminary changes its mission. Laney negotiates university approval of the school’s $1.75 million bid, which is funded by private donations and foundation support by Margaret Pitts, a Georgian dedicated to Methodist causes. Overnight, the holdings of the library grow from 90,000 volumes to more than 300,000. The theology building begins renovations to serve as a library for the new collection.


Fall: Student enrollment is soaring; in the eight years since James T. Laney had taken office, it has grown 37 percent, making Candler the largest United Methodist seminary in the world.

Margaret Pitts with James Laney and Mattie TrimbleNovember 11: A dedication for the renovated library is held. The building is renamed Pitts Theology Library in recognition of Margaret Pitts and her father, William I.H. Pitts, and the Pitts Foundation’s assistance in purchasing the Hartford collection. At the ceremony, librarian Channing Jeschke suggests that Margaret Pitts is “Candler School of Theology’s candidate for Miss Georgia of 1976 or any other year.”


Dean Jim Waits (right) with President Jimmy CarterSpring: James T. Laney is named the 17th president of Emory University.  Associate Dean Jim Waits, who had arrived at Candler in 1969 and served as Laney’s chief lieutenant, is named acting dean; a year later, he is officially appointed as dean. Waits faces an immediate issue of space: Following the renovation of Pitts Theology Library, the school’s worship services are taking place in the attic of Bishops Hall.


Roberta BondiRoberta Bondi becomes the first female faculty member on the tenure track of the theology school. Though Candler had received female visiting professors and untenured lecturers, Bondi’s appointment as assistant professor of patristics marks the first time a woman is officially on faculty. Bondi faces challenges to her role from students and fellow faculty alike. In 1979, she chairs the search committee for a faculty member who can teach Old Testament, and helps to welcome the second female faculty member, Carol Newsom.

Carol NewsomBesides Bondi and Newsom, other faculty recruited during the Jim Waits era include Fred Craddock, Carlton Young, James Fowler, David Pacini, Steve Tipton, Nancy Ammerman, and Jon Gunneman.

Winter: Public forums are held to discuss designs for a new chapel. Paul Rudolph, dean of the school of architecture at Yale and son of Candler’s first graduate, had been retained to design the space, but faculty and student reaction to his plans—as well as the costs—was decidedly negative. Committees are formed to struggle with the issues at hand: While the school needed a space for communal worship, a new building seemed a waste of funds in the face of so many social needs. The faculty and students eventually agree to move forward with Rudolph’s designs.


Ground-breaking ceremony, President Jimmy Carter seen at far left; William Cannon turns a spade of dirtAugust 30: With U.S. President Jimmy Carter present, the university holds a groundbreaking for the new chapel.

November: Robert and George Woodruff transfer the entire corpus of their parents’ estate—comprising $105 million in Coca-Cola stock—to Emory University. At the time, the gift is the largest ever to any institution of higher education in America, and the announcement brings new attention to Emory and all of its schools, including Candler.


Dean Cannon in front of Cannon ChapelSeptember: The new chapel, named in honor of former dean William R. Cannon, opens. Not only does the chapel host worship services, it also begins to host a variety of artistic events and lectures for the entire university. 


Candler launches a giving campaign with the goal of raising $8.5 million specifically for the theology school. The budget was under strain, and despite Emory University’s windfall with the Woodruff gift, few funds were earmarked for Candler. Additionally, The United Methodist Church had changed its formula for distributing funds, leading to decreased contributions from the church. The campaign was successful, raising $12 million by 1988.


A copy of the “Luther Rose,” which serves as the logo for the Digital Image Archive of the Pitts Theology LibraryOctober: Richard C. Kessler, a Lutheran layman who had begin to collect rare imprints and manuscripts of Martin Luther, agrees to donate his collection to Pitts Theology Library, provided that librarian Channing Jeschke guides him in acquiring new pieces. Kessler’s gift is celebrated annually with the Reformation Day at Emory program.


With the funds from the giving campaign, Candler develops Turner Village, a complex on Clifton Road that provides housing and event space for the school. After 20 years, Turner Village would be razed to make way for the Emory Point development.

Robert FranklinFall: The Black Church Studies Program is launched “to educate and heighten the awareness of the entire Candler community regarding the origins, development, contemporary diversity, and genius of the Black church tradition.” Theologian Robert Franklin is the founding director. Franklin later would become president of Morehouse College and return to Candler in 2014 as the James T. and Berta R. Laney Chair of Moral Leadership.


The Program in Women’s Studies is launched under part-time director Kris Kvam; it would later be renamed the Program for Women in Theology and Ministry. From 1978—the year Roberta Bondi was appointed to the faculty—to 1993, nine more women join Candler as tenure track faculty.

Candler faculty, circa 1991Professor of Sociology and Religion Nancy Ammerman founds Candler’s Baptist Studies Program. Ammerman’s scholarly work on the Baptist Church begins to draw more Baptist students.

Spring: Jim Waits resigns as dean to become executive director of the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada. The faculty overwhelmingly supports the appointment of R. Kevin LaGree, a Topeka-based pastor who had served as an adjunct faculty member at the Saint Paul School of Theology, as the new dean. Dean LaGreeThe selection of a pastor rather than an academic is seen as a sign of Candler’s commitment to the church at a time when 80 percent of graduates are pursing ordination.

While announcing LaGree’s appointment, Emory provost Billy Frye tells the faculty that the university would absorb a $2 million deficit that Candler had accumulated, provided the new dean lead an assessment of the school’s spending.


From left to right, Emory Provost Billy Frye, Archbishop Tutu, and Candler Dean Jim WaitsEven in the face of fiscal constraints, R. Kevin LaGree commits to faculty excellence. Archbishop Desmond Tutu becomes the first Nobel Laureate on the Candler faculty when he serves a year as Visiting Woodruff Professor; he would return in 1998-2000. In 1992, Luke Timothy Johnson is hired as the first full-time Robert W. Woodruff Professor at Candler.


YTI Class of 2014The Youth Theological Initiative (YTI) is formed and begins hosting high school juniors and seniors at Candler every summer. Funded by the Lilly Endowment Inc., YTI encourages young students to examine their religious convictions through alternative lenses such as social justice and community service.


Emory University decides to permit same-sex commitment ceremonies in university chapels. In 1992, Emory had created a university offices of lesbian/gay/bisexual student life, and in 1994, the university had extended benefits to same-sex domestic partners of employees. These three actions threaten to drive a wedge between The United Methodist Church and the university (and thus, Candler), as The United Methodist Church’s Book of Discipline prohibits “advocacy” of homosexuality.


Spring: R. Kevin LaGree announces he will resign the deanship to become president of Simpson College in Iowa. Under his leadership, the school had achieved financial stability and fundraising had increased. However, the school is once again outgrowing its facilities; Bishops Hall could not support the growing student body, even when enrollment was decreased. Candler professor Charles “Chuck” Foster is appointed to serve as interim dean.


Fall: Russell E. Richey becomes dean. A cradle Methodist, ordained elder in The United Methodist Church, and esteemed American religious historian, Richey was recruited from Duke Divinity School. His immediate task is to begin repairing the school’s relationship with The United Methodist Church.

Russ RicheyRichey’s deanship faced immediate financial constraints; the stock market plummeted just two months before his appointment was announced, decimating Emory’s and Candler’s endowments. In recruiting Richey, Emory had promised to upgrade Candler’s facilities, including partially funding a new building. With the financial uncertainties, Richey has to fight to keep the university administration focused on the school’s space needs. Ultimately, Candler and Emory agreed to a plan in which two new buildings would be built, including one that would replace Bishops Hall.


August: Russell E. Richey announces that he will step down as dean after one more year of service; the search for his replacement begins.


Dean Jan LoveJanuary 1: Jan Love becomes Candler’s first female dean. Prior to joining Candler, Love was chief executive of the Women’s Division of The United Methodist Church General Board of Global Ministries. She is an internationally recognized leader in church and ecumenical arenas and a scholar of world politics, particularly issues of religion and politics, conflict transformation, globalization, and ecumenism. She is the first dean without pastoral experience or a seminary degree; her master’s and PhD degrees were earned in political science.


August: Candler’s new building opens on Dickey Drive, behind Bishops Hall. It is Phase I of a two-part building program that will eventually include a new facility for Pitts Theology Library. The new building contains classrooms, administrative and faculty offices, community gathering spaces, and Emory’s Center for Ethics.

September: Emory launches a $1.6 billion fundraising campaign. The economy was preparing to take a nosedive, but by the end of the campaign, Candler will exceed its $60 million goal.


Noel Erskine, Luther Smith and Romney MosleyCandler boasts the largest tenured or tenure-track African American faculty of any seminary in the country. The school launches the Erskine-Smith-Mosley Fund, a scholarship endowment honoring faculty members Noel Erskine, Luther Smith, and the late Romney Mosley.

Spring: In order to continue to attract top-notch students, the school introduces the Leadership Candler program, a premiere scholarship event for outstanding Master of Divinity applicants.


General Theological Seminary overlooking New York City skylineCandler ratifies a partnership with General Theological Seminary in New York City to transfer some 80,000-90,000 books to Pitts Theological Library and to initiate exchange programs for students and faculty.


May: The Henry Luce Foundation awards Candler a $325,00 grant to create an international model curriculum for North American seminaries. The grant provides for faculty and student exchanges between Candler and theological schools in Africa, Asia, and South America, and an annual seminar for discussions on internationalizing theological education.

Brooks Holified at induction ceremonyOctober: E. Brooks Holifield, Charles Howard Candler Professor of American Church History at Candler School of Theology, is the first member of Candler’s faculty to be inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


Candler students in front of the newly named Rita Anne Rollins BuildingJanuary: Candler announces it has received a $15 million gift from the O. Wayne Rollins Foundation of Atlanta that makes possible the construction of the second phase of its new building program. In recognition of the gift, the first building is renamed the Rita Anne Rollins Building, in honor of the first grandchild of the foundation’s namesake, in 2013.


March 11: Demolition begins on Bishops Hall to make way for the new building.

Summer: Candler announces the launch of five new degree programs to meet the needs of people engaged in various levels of ministry. The programs include the Doctor of Ministry (DMin), the Master of Religious Leadership (MRL), the Master of Religion and Public Life (MRPL), the joint Master of Divinity/Master of Social Work, and the joint Master of Divinity/Master of Development Practice. The school continues to evaluate responses to emerging trends in theological education, including the rise of the “nones,” or people who claim no religious affiliation, the need to make a seminary education more affordable, and an increasing demand for online options.


Phase II of Candler's building projectSummer: Candler completes Phase II of its building project. The newly renovated theology school building sits on the location of the former Bishops Hall, is the new home of Pitts Theology Library and serves as the connecting point between Cannon Chapel and the Rita Anne Rollins building.

August: Candler kicks off a yearlong celebration of its Centennial, which is themed “The Candler Centennial in Story and Prophecy.” The Fall Celebration is commemorative and focuses on story, memory, and celebration, and the Spring Academic Conference emphasizes prophecy and examines the dilemmas and opportunities for the next century.

At the time of the Centennial, Candler School of Theology boasts more than 7,500 living alumni working in churches, schools, nonprofits, government agencies, and corporations.

Candler establishes the James T. and Berta R. Laney Legacy in Moral Leadership program, with the Rev. Dr. Robert Franklin appointed as the first Laney Professor.


February: The Leadership and Multifaith Program (LAMP) begins, a joint initiative between Candler and the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The Rev. Dr. Deanna Ferree Womack is named director of public programming for LAMP, as well as Candler’s first assistant professor of history of religions and multifaith relations.

March: As part of its centennial year celebrations, Candler hosts “Prophetic Voices: Confronting Theological Challenges of the Next Century,” a major academic conference featuring 15 renowned scholars, including Pulitzer Prize-winning author Marilynne Robinson.


October: Candler hosts “Unfinished Worlds: Jürgen Moltmann at 90,” an academic conference honoring one of the most influential theologians of the 20th century, who was a distinguished visiting professor at Candler from 1983-1993. Moltmann returned to campus to attend the conference, giving both a keynote address and a closing response.

*Adapted from Gary S. Hauk's book Religion and Reason Joined: Candler at One Hundred. Purchase the book.

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"There's this play, from the very beginning all the way through the institution's history, between trying to hold on, and listening to what I would say is the gospel call to a greater openness, a greater freedom, a greater energy in the broad world."
-Gary S. Hauk, author of Religion and Reason Joined: Candler at 100