WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (ABP) – Church history professor Bill J. Leonard has been named the first James and Marilyn Dunn Chair of Baptist Studies at the Wake Forest University School of Divinity, officials at the school in Winston-Salem, N.C., announced Sept. 14.
Leonard was founding dean of the Wake Forest School of Divinity. He retired last year as dean but continued to teach church history in the divinity school and the religion department of the university.
The established chair honors James Dunn, longtime leader of the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, and his wife. Both have been active supporters of the divinity school, and James Dunn joined the faculty in 1999.
Leonard, a leading scholar in Baptist studies, taught previously at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Samford University. He has written several books and is a regular columnist for Associated Baptist Press.
Gail O’Day, the current dean of the divinity school, said establishment of the chair of Baptist studies would allow the multi-faith institution to harness the strengths of the faith tradition and lead in the future ministry in Baptist churches. She said she was “thrilled” at Leonard’s selection.
“Bill’s teaching, writing and public engagement with Baptist life will ensure that the Dunns’ commitment to the preservation of individual liberty and freedom in Christ will continue at Wake Forest University School of Divinity as we educate a new generation of women and men for religious leadership,” O’Day said.