Welcome to New Chaplain

stephen-rankin.ashx.jpgThe Reverend Dr. Stephen Rankin has been appointed SMU’s new chaplain and minister to the University. effective July 1, 2009.

Rankin comes to SMU from Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas, where he is the campus minister and the 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. Rankin holds Elders Orders and full membership in the Kansas West Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.

Rankin’s prior appointments include faculty and instructor at Saint Paul School of Theology and Bethany College. In addition, 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 Rankin with an Exemplary Teacher Award. Earlier in his career, he earned a John Wesley Fellowship.


As the chaplain and minister to the University, Rankin has responsibilities for:

• Pastoral care and counseling.
• University worship.
• Religious life advisement and programming.
• Close interaction with the dean of the Perkins School of Theology and other religious leaders in the community.
• 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.

Rankin also has been appointed adjunct professor of church history and ministry in SMU’s Perkins School of Theology.

Although from Kansas, as a Methodist preacher’s child, Rankin spent six years of his boyhood in Texas, including summer visits to SMU while his father studied at Perkins School of Theology. His coming to SMU has, in his words, ‘a coming home feel to it.’ Rankin is married to Joni Leeper, and they have four children and one grandson.

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