Duke Divinity School Dean Richard B. Hays today announced that he will conclude his term as dean at the end of the next academic year, June 30, 2016. He will take a research leave during the 2016-17 academic year and then return to his position as professor of New Testament in the academic year 2017-18.
Hays said his decision was motivated in part by his desire to work on writing projects and by his eagerness to return to the classroom before he retires.
“This decision is shaped by a number of factors beyond my own personal sense that the time is right,” he said. “A transition is also timely because the school has now accomplished many of the tasks that have been the focus of these past five years.”
Hays was installed as the 12th dean of Duke Divinity School on Aug. 31, 2010. During his past 5 years as dean, he has overseen the appointment of 20 new faculty members, making up nearly 40% of the faculty. He has also led the school during the Duke Forward campaign, which has currently raised more than $86 million for the Divinity School. The school has also successfully launched three new degree programs in this period, the D.Min., M.A.C.P., and M.A.C.S., two of which offer instruction in a hybrid model that combines short-term intensive residential classes with extended online work. In addition, the Th.D. program, now nine years old, has become firmly established with an acceptance rate of five percent and a high placement record for graduates.
The Divinity School’s interdisciplinary work has also grown and developed during Hays’s tenure, with the establishment of a new initiative in Theology, Medicine, and Culture, and the continued expansion of work in Duke Initiatives in Theology the Arts, the Center for Reconciliation, and Leadership Education.
“Richard Hays has been a thoughtful and effective dean whose leadership has brought the Divinity School to a new level of success in scholarship, service, and engagement with the rest of the university,” said Duke University Provost Sally Kornbluth. "The Divinity School is a better, stronger place for his leadership.”
Kornbluth and Duke University President Richard Brodhead will appoint a search committee to identify candidates for the next dean of the Divinity School. Randy Maddox, William Kellon Quick Professor of Wesleyan and Methodist Studies, will chair the committee.