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Jan Love to lead Candler as first female dean

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Jan Love will become dean of Candler School of Theology at Emory University effective Jan. 1.
May 11, 2006

A UMNS Report
By Linda Bloom*

Jan Love, a church executive, ecumenical leader and former professor, will become the first woman to serve as dean of United Methodist-related Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta.

The announcement of Love’s hiring, to take effect Jan. 1, was made by Candler on May 10. The current dean is Russ Richey.

Since Aug. 1, 2004, Love, 53, has served as chief executive of the Women’s Division, United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, in New York. But the remainder of her career has been in academic positions.

“Being head of the Women’s Division has been one of the great jobs of my life,” she told United Methodist News Service. “I leave very reluctantly and am deeply honored I have this remarkable choice of two positions of church leadership offered to me.”

As dean of Candler, she noted, she will lead “a great school of theology” as well as “hold a more healthy balance between my personal life and my career because I can reunite my household.”

Love said her husband, Peter Sederberg, who has been a dean at the University of South Carolina, will be moving to Atlanta. She also has a daughter, Rachel, 18, and an adult son, Per.

Emory President James Wagner called Love “the right person at the right time” to lead Candler. “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,” he said in a press release.

Emory Provost Earl Lewis noted Love’s scholarly achievement, ecumenical and international experience and administrative expertise, and said she would “help Candler achieve its potential of being recognized as the premier school of theology in the country.”

Before Love leaves the Women’s Division, she expects to complete a plan of re-organization and realignment approved by the division’s board of directors in early April. “The implementation of that plan will begin already this summer,” she said.

The plan is designed to address “a longstanding pattern of overspending” and will include a spending reduction of about $5.5 million for 2007.

The Rev. R. Randy Day, chief executive, Board of Global Ministries, expressed thanks for Love’s leadership to both the Women’s Division and the agency as a whole.

“Her global perspectives and commitment to Christian mission have enriched us all,” he said. “We wish her well as she returns to an academic community.”

Love — who holds both a master’s degree and doctorate in political science and international relations from Ohio State University — began her academic career as an instructor at Denison University in Granville, Ohio, from 1980-82.

She then moved to the University of South Carolina, where her positions in the Department of Government and International Studies included visiting assistant professor, 1982-86; assistant professor, 1986-91; associate professor, 1991-2001; and graduate director of international studies, 1993-98. From 2001 to 2004, she served as associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies there.

Love’s father, the Rev. James Neal Love, is a graduate of Emory. Her experience as a teenager with the church, the Women’s Division and the Board of Global Ministries led to a longtime involvement with the World Council of Churches, where she served on the council’s central committee from 1975 to 1998. She also was a director of the United Methodist Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns from 2000 to 2004.

She was recognized by the United Methodist Council of Bishops for her “exceptional leadership in ecumenical arenas” during the denomination’s 2000 General Conference in Cleveland.

Candler Bishop-in-Residence Marshall L. “Jack” Meadors Jr. called Love a faithful disciple with a faith “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.”

*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York.

News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or

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