Jan Love has been named dean of Emory University's Candler School of Theology. Love, who is currently chief executive of the Women's Division of the United Methodist Church's General Board of Global Ministries, will begin her tenure Jan. 1, 2007, as the first woman dean in the history of Candler, one of 13 United Methodist seminaries.
"As one of the most widely recognized United Methodist leaders on the ecumenical, interfaith and global stage, Jan Love is the right person at the right time to lead Candler," says Emory President James Wagner. "The school is poised to be a world leader in theological education and religious studies, a molder of the church's social conscience and an agent of reconciliation and change as it serves the United Methodist Church in particular as well as the broader church in the world."
"Jan Love brings a rare combination of widely recognized scholarly achievement, administrative expertise, and broad ecumenical and international experience to Candler," says Emory Provost Earl Lewis. "She will help Candler achieve its potential of being recognized as the premier school of theology in the country, building on the strong scholarly base of Emory's Graduate Division of Religion as well as Candler's 92-year affiliation with the church."
"Since her appointment as a high school student from the Alabama-West Florida Conference to the council on Youth Ministry, Jan Love has been a leader in the United Methodist Church," says United Methodist Bishop L. Bevel Jones III. "Her leadership at the denomination's General Board of Global Ministries and the World Council of Churches has been exemplary and bodes well for this great theological school."
Current Candler Dean Russ Richey, who will serve through the end of the year, says "Candler will be indeed fortunate to have Jan Love, who brings long-term and significant leadership experience within United Methodism." Richey also cited Love's "engagement with Christian communities at the global level, hands-on administrative savvy, a distinguished academic career of teaching and scholarship in religion and political science, concern for the identification and nurture of leaders for the church, and deep roots in southeastern Methodism."
Candler Bishop-in-Residence Marshall L. "Jack" Meadors Jr. called Love's appointment "providential and exciting. Jan is committed to Christ and the church. Her faith is based in scripture and rooted in Wesleyan theology. She is a leader in the global multi-religious movement. She has strength of mind, heart and character to deal with tough issues, and to do it with gentleness, kindness, patience and a sense of humor. She will model faithful discipleship and will work collegially with the Candler community to educate faithful and creative leaders for the ministries of the church. She will work with the president and council of deans to make Emory the place where courageous inquiry leads."
Love, 53, has led the Women's Division of the UMC since August 2004. The division is the administrative arm of the one million-member United Methodist Women organization, which has an independently elected board of directors, a staff of about 100, annual expenditures of approximately $30 million, and programs and property in more than 100 locations across the United States and in about 100 countries around the world. In 2000, Love was honored by the United Methodist Council of Bishops for leadership in ecumenical arenas.
"I'm honored that a globally recognized theology school has invited me to be its leader," says Love. "Candler is situated within a distinguished research university, and what I find most exciting is the combination of a school of theology deeply committed to the formation of Christian leaders within a university that acknowledges the significance of religion in public life. That is an ideal environment for shaping Christian leaders in the 21st century."
A native of Alabama and daughter of a United Methodist Minister, Love's work on global issues began as a 17-year-old high school student in the 1970s when she was nominated to serve on the denomination's Board of Missions. In 1975, she attended the World Council of Churches (WCC) meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, where she was first elected to the organization's central committee, a position she served until 1998.
In addition to her denominational leadership, Love also is an accomplished academic. She was a faculty member at the University of South Carolina from 1982-2001, where she served in various capacities including associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies (2001-2004), associate professor in the Department of Government and International Studies (1991-2001), and graduate director of international studies (1993-98). Also while at USC, Love served on the university's joint project with the Somalia National University, teaching a graduate level course in international political economy to mid-career civil servants in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Mogadishu, Somalia.
Love holds an undergraduate degree from Eckerd College, and master's and Ph.D. in political science/international relations from Ohio State University. Courses she has taught include international relations, international political economy, theories of political inquiry, comparative politics, and religion and world politics.
She is the author of scores of articles and book chapters, including "Is United Methodism a World Church?" in the book "United Methodism and American Culture," and "Can We All Agree? Governing the WCC by Consensus" in Christian Century, among others. She also has written two books on international relations: "Southern Africa in World Politics: Local Aspirations and Global Entanglements" (Westview Press, 2005) and "The U.S. Anti-Apartheid Movement: Local Activism in Global Politics" (Praeger Publishers, 1985).
Love currently is a member of Wesley United Methodist Church in Columbia, S.C. She is married to Peter Sederberg, a recently retired dean at the University of South Carolina, and the couple has a son and daughter.