Rev. Dr. Stephen Rankin will become SMU’s new chaplain and minister to the University effective July 1, 2009. He also has been appointed adjunct professor of church history and ministry in SMU’s Perkins School of Theology.
His predecessor, Rev. Will Finnin, retired from SMU December 31, 2008, after 28 years as chaplain.
Rankin comes to SMU from Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas, where he is the campus minister and Kirk Chair Professor of Religious Studies. He received his bachelor’s degree from Kansas State University, a Master of Divinity from Saint Paul School of Theology, a Master of Theology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and a Ph.D. in religious studies from Northwestern University and Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary.
He holds Elders Orders and full membership in the Kansas West Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Rankin’s prior experience includes faculty and instructor appointments at Saint Paul School of Theology and Bethany College. He has held pastoral appointments in Rome and Florence, Italy; Chicago; and Winfield, Kansas. In 1997, the United Methodist Church’s General Board of Higher Education and Ministry honored Dr. Rankin with an Exemplary Teacher Award. Earlier in his career, he earned a John Wesley Fellowship.
In addition, Rankin spent 6 years of his boyhood in Texas, including summer visits to SMU while his minister father studied at the Perkins School. He is married to Joni Leeper; they have four children and one grandson.
As Chaplain and Minster to the University, Rankin has responsibilities for:
- pastoral care and counseling;
- university worship;
- religious life advising and programming;
- close interaction with the dean of Perkins School of Theology and other religious leaders in the community; and
- working with faculty, students, administrators and staff “to create a campus environment that supports the University’s commitment to spiritual growth, ethical behavior, intellectual and academic exploration of religion and spirituality, and the rich diversity of religious faiths and traditions,” as stated by the Office of Student Affairs.