Former Mississippi pastor earns honorary degree from LaGrange


Dr. James L. Waits, former president of The Fund for Theological Education, was awarded an honorary doctorate during LaGrange (Ga.) College’s May 17 commencement ceremony.

Over the course of his career, Waits has served as a minister, university administrator and executive director of the principal association for theological education in North America in addition to his time as president of The Fund for Theological Education.
As president of FTE from 1998 until his retirement in 2003, Waits worked to promote the Fund’s efforts to encourage excellence and diversity among candidates for the Christian ministry. Prior to his work with FTE, he served as executive director of The Association of Theological Schools, and from 1978 to 1991, he was dean of Emory University’s Candler School of Theology
While dean at Candler, Waits also served as the first director of the Carter Center and held one of the most prestigious academic chairs in higher education, the Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Divinity.
As a Methodist minister in Mississippi in 1962, he helped draft a statement dubbed “Born of Conviction,” which called for greater racial tolerance at a time when disseminating such a view in the Deep South was a potentially dangerous endeavor.
Waits is a graduate of Millsaps College and holds advanced degrees from Yale University Divinity School and the University of Chicago.