Craig C. Hill, a Duke University leader in theological education with strengths in practice, research and church relations, has been appointed the new dean of SMU’s Perkins School of Theology, effective July 1, 2016.
Current Perkins Dean William B. Lawrence announced in September 2015 that he will retire from the position on May 16 and take a leave of absence during the 2016-17 academic year, possibly returning to SMU as professor of American church history after that time.
Since 2010, Dr. Hill has served as executive director of the Doctor of Ministry and Master of Christian Practice programs at Duke, as well as research professor of theological pedagogy.
He previously served the Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C., where he held several positions: professor of New Testament, executive director of academic outreach, director of the Wesley Ministry Network, co-director of the dual degree program with The American University and director of the Master of Theological Studies degree program.
“Dr. Hill’s broad achievements as a scholar and pastoral leader make him well-equipped to guide and strengthen the next century of theological higher education at SMU,” said Steven C. Currall, SMU provost and vice president for academic affairs. “Theology was one of the first subjects taught when SMU opened in 1915, and today Perkins School of Theology remains central to the mission and character of the University. Dr. Hill will further cement the close relationship between Perkins and The United Methodist Church, as well as with other faith-based organizations in the region, nationally, and around the world. We are delighted that Dr. Hill will join the academic leadership of SMU as dean of the Perkins School of Theology.”
“Perkins School of Theology has from the beginning sought, in the words of Charles Wesley, to ‘unite…knowledge and vital piety,’ to pursue the highest standard of theological scholarship, not simply for its own sake, but for the benefit of the Church,” said Dr. Hill. “I was delighted to discover one of the school’s earliest mottos: ‘Take the School of Theology to the Church.’ My own career has been defined by that same goal, so I feel incredibly privileged to join the Perkins community as it seeks faithfully to fulfill its mission in its second century of service to the Church.”
From his experience at theology schools of other distinguished universities, Dr. Hill brings a broad overview of best practices and evolving challenges in different regions of the nation and world. These positions include those at seminaries in Moscow, Russia; Seoul, Korea; and the University of Cambridge, England. In the United States, he has been a visiting professor at Howard University Divinity School and at Indiana University and was a Henry Luce Fellow at Yale Divinity School. Based on his experience at Duke University, Dr. Hill will bring insights into how theological education aligns with other academic programs in a global research university with a liberal arts tradition, such as SMU.
“Trends in theology education, the growing need for outreach to underserved communities and the importance of preparing ministers for new challenges and opportunities – all demand the balance of theological practice and reflection that Dr. Hill will bring to his leadership of Perkins,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner.
Among Dr. Hill’s church positions, he served as director of Christian Education at First United Methodist Church, Meriden, Connecticut; as chaplain at Christ Church College, University of Oxford; as associate pastor at First United Methodist Church, Peoria, Illinois; and as associate pastor at Woodside United Methodist Church, Springfield, Illinois.
“In a very competitive field, Dr. Craig Hill stood out for a number of reasons,” said Samuel S. Holland, chair of the search committee and dean of SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts. “He has served in various executive positions at Duke Divinity School and Wesley Theological Seminary, in other words both in a theological school embedded in a research university and at an independent institution. He brings an international perspective to SMU. In all, he will provide ecumenical breadth and theological depth that Perkins School of Theology will need going forward.”
Dr. Hill is the author of numerous scholarly articles and the forthcoming book, The Greatest Among You: Reclaiming a New Testament Perspective on Status and Ambition. His previous books include In God’s Time: The Bible and the Future and Hellenists and Hebrews: Reappraising Division within the Earliest Church.
He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in religion from Illinois Wesleyan University, a Master of Divinity from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, and a Ph.D. from the University of Oxford (Christ Church College).