Search Committee Appointed for New Dean


ATLANTA – Mercer University President William D. Underwood has appointed, upon the recommendation of Provost Dr. Scott Davis, a search committee to identify and recommend a dean for the James and Carolyn McAfee School of Theology to succeed founding dean Dr. R. Alan Culpepper. Dr. Culpepper announced in August his intention to return to teaching after 20 years in the post.

The search committee will be chaired by Mercer Chancellor Dr. R. Kirby Godsey, who as Mercer's president in 1995 recruited Dr. Culpepper to lead the new school.

“The selection and appointment of the next dean of the James and Carolyn McAfee School of Theology signals a new era in the life and work of the School,” Dr. Godsey said. “I am honored to serve with a diverse and distinguished group of individuals being appointed by President Underwood, and I join them in a common commitment to the mission and future of the School.”

Other members of the search committee include:

Dr. Loyd Allen, Sylvan Hills Baptist Church Professor of Church History and Spiritual Formation, McAfee School of Theology Dr. Bill Coates, pastor, First Baptist Church, Gainesville, Georgia, and member of the Mercer Board of Trustees Dr. Bill Ireland, senior pastor, First Baptist Church, Dalton, Georgia, chair of the McAfee School of Theology Board of Visitors, and member of the Mercer Board of Trustees Rev. Julie Whidden Long, minister of children and families, First Baptist Church of Christ, Macon, and alumnus of the McAfee School of Theology and College of Liberal Arts Dr. Hewitt W. “Ted” Matthews, senior vice president, Mercer University Health Sciences Center, and dean of the College of Pharmacy J. Thomas McAfee III, chairman and president, Hallmark Systems Inc., and member of the Mercer Board of Trustees Rev. Julie Pennington-Russell, senior pastor, First Baptist Church of Decatur, Georgia, and former member of the Mercer Board of Trustees Dr. Daniel Vestal, Distinguished University Professor and director of Mercer's Baugh Center for Baptist Leadership Dr. Chanequa Walker-Barnes, professor of pastoral care and counseling, McAfee School of Theology

“I am grateful to Dr. Godsey and to each member of the search committee for their willingness to serve in this important role for the University,” Dr. Davis said. “The appointment of a dean to follow Dr. Culpepper's long and dedicated service will be an important milestone for Mercer's McAfee School of Theology.”

About the James and Carolyn McAfee School of Theology

The James and Carolyn McAfee School of Theology was established in 1996. Located in Atlanta, on Mercer University's Cecil B. Day Graduate and Professional Campus, the School of Theology offers degree programs leading to a Master of Arts in Christian Ministry, Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry. The School of Theology also offers several joint programs: an M.Div.-Master of Business Administration, M.Div.-Master of Science in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and M.Div.-Master of Science in Organizational Leadership with a Concentration in Non-Profit. For more information, visit

Kyle is the director of media relations at Mercer. In addition to being the primary media contact for most academic and administrative units of the university, he coordinates hometown and university news releases and serves as editor of the News@Mercer e-newsletter and Reach magazine.​