Robert Franklin (left) and Kevin WatsonFirst-year students aren't the only people new to the Candler community this semester. Two new faculty members -- Robert M. Franklin, Jr., and Kevin M. Watson -- are already settling into life at Candler with the start of the new academic year.

Recognized as one of the nation's foremost public theologians, Franklin was installed as the James T. and Berta R. Laney Professor in Moral Leadership at Candler's opening convocation in August. It has been more of a homecoming for Franklin, who was founding director of Candler's Black Church Studies program from 1989 to 1995. President emeritus of Morehouse College, he also serves as senior advisor for Community and Diversity at Emory and director of the Religion Department at The Chautauqua Institution.

As the Laney Professor in Moral Leadership at Candler, Franklin will direct a program that challenges students to embrace and extend the concept of moral leadership in the 21st century in various contexts and cultures in the United States and around the world. The curriculum includes travel seminars, visits with agents of change and civic leaders within the metro Atlanta area, and guest lectures by exceptional leaders. For example, this fall the program's inaugural lecture was presented by Eyal Press, award-winning journalist and author of Beautiful Souls: Saying No, Breaking Ranks and Heeding the Voice of Conscience in Dark Times. In addition, Franklin is teaching a course entitled “Principles and Practices in Moral Leadership,” which examines the lives of moral leaders, their personal background and formation, the context of their actions and decisions, and the outcomes they enable.

"Thanks to the visionary leadership of this seminary and university, Candler has one of the only established programs and chairs in moral leadership aspiring to understand women and men who act with imagination and integrity to serve the common good while striving to make people better," says Franklin.

Watson joined the faculty as assistant professor of Wesleyan and Methodist studies at Candler. This fall, Watson is teaching History of United Methodism and is serving as a faculty advisor to a group of first-year MDiv students.

An ordained elder in the Oklahoma Conference of the United Methodist Church, Watson comes to Candler after three years as assistant professor of historical theology and Wesleyan studies at Seattle Pacific University. He is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma, Wesley Theological Seminary, and Southern Methodist University.

“I feel called to pastor seminary students who are preparing to become pastors,” he says. “I am passionate about both theological education and the local church. These passions are combined in my belief that many of the key insights of the first Methodists are of enduring relevance for contemporary Christianity.”