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May 8, 2001


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DALLAS (SMU) -- Robin Warren Lovin, dean of Southern Methodist University's Perkins School of Theology and an internationally renowned scholar of Christian ethics, has been named the new Cary M. Maguire University Professor of Ethics. Lovin replaces William F. May who is retiring from full-time teaching this spring.

SMU Provost Ross Murfin says Lovin will assume the prestigious universitywide chair in ethics this fall, while continuing his duties as Perkins' dean. The double assignment, however, is only temporary until the university finds a new dean for its theology school. The Provost is assembling a committee of faculty and trustees to begin a search.

Lovin's appointment to the Maguire Chair ends a two-year national search. Lovin's name surfaced as the logical candidate after the search committee asked well-known ethicists for recommendations, and several national and international scholars suggested Lovin as their first choice.

"Because of his outstanding leadership as a Perkins dean, other schools have tried to hire Lovin away from SMU with offers of at least one deanship and a presidency," Murfin said. "Although we're losing our senior dean, I am delighted that SMU is not losing him to another campus, but retaining him as an outstanding scholar and researcher."

The Maguire Chair in Ethics is unique among endowed chairs because the position is not situated in any one academic department, but instead cuts across many disciplines. The chair is one of two universitywide positions that reports directly to the Provost. It affords its holder wide latitude to teach, write and lecture. Professor May assumed the position in 1985, having previously held an endowed chair in ethics at the Kennedy Institute at Georgetown University. The other universitywide chair in ethics, the Scurlock University Professor in Human Values, is held by moral theologian Charles E. Curran.

Curran, who led the seven-member search committee, says the committee looked for a scholar who would not simply speak and write for other specialists in the field, but who could communicate with a general educated public.

"Robin Lovin is ideal for the position. As the past president of the Society of Christian Ethics, he is well-respected by his peers in Christian ethics," said Curran. "In addition, his interests in religion, ethics, politics and culture make him the best choice to engage in discussion and dialogue with many disciplines and persons across campus."

Lovin has been a dean and a professor of ethics at SMU since 1994. Before coming to the university, he was dean of Drew University Theological School and held faculty positions at the Divinity School of the University of Chicago and Candler School of Theology at Emory University. As a scholar in the field of Christian ethics, Lovin looks in particular at the way people relate their religious faith to their families, communities and the broader society in which they live.

"The moral issues that interest me include questions of how law and morality are related, how church and state work together, how moral concerns get translated across cultural boundaries and how moral commitments can be expressed in practical politics," Lovin said. "That's a wide range of issues, but they're all related to what happens when our most important commitments have to be expressed within the reality of our limited human lives."

Lovin established his reputation as one of the nation's foremost Christian ethicists while a professor of ethics at the University of Chicago. He is the author of three books: Christian Faith and Public Choices: The Social Ethics of Barth, Brunner, and Bonhoeffer (Fortress Press, 1984), Reinhold Niebuhr and Christian Realism (Cambridge University Press, 1995), and Christian Ethics: An Essential Guide (Abingdon Press, 2000). He has authored and co-edited several books, articles and major publications, including a professional volume of essays, Cosmogony and Ethical Order: New Studies in Comparative Ethics (University of Chicago Press, 1985).

While at the University of Chicago in the early 1980s, he was director of the Project on Religion and American Public Life. He has served on the editorial boards of The Journal of Religious Ethics and the Journal of Religion . He was co-editor of the Library of Theological Ethics. Since 1991 he has been editor-at-large for the magazine, The Christian Century. In 1987 he was named a Guggenheim Fellow. He also is the past president of the Society of Christian Ethics.

An ordained minister in the United Methodist Church (UMC), Lovin has been active in the life and leadership of the Methodist Church for more than 20 years. He is currently president of the Association of United Methodist Theological Schools and serves on an advisory committee for the Russia United Methodist Theological Seminary. A native of Illinois, Lovin holds a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Northwestern University and a graduate degree in divinity (B.D.) and a Ph.D. in religious ethics from Harvard University.

As dean of Perkins, Lovin has overseen the renovation of Perkins Chapel, hired seven new faculty members, established satellite programs in Houston and Galveston in which he also teaches, raised $14 million in gifts, and forged a positive and strong relationship between the school and the UMC. In addition, he has continued to write, research and teach courses on moral theology and an introduction to theology to divinity students and the core seminar for Ph.D. students in SMU's Department of Religious Studies in Dedman College.

His plans for the Maguire Chair are to continue the tradition of teaching ethics across the disciplines and professions, including SMU's schools of law and business. Lovin also hopes to use his background in comparative ethics to contribute to the university's courses and programs on globalization. His predecessor, May, says he is pleased that Lovin will continue to use the Maguire Chair as a platform for public discourse in ethics.

"He is first rate scholar and a wonderful speaker. I am honored that he will be a successor to the chair," May said.

The Maguire Chair in Ethics was established in 1983 with a gift from Cary Maguire, chairman, president and CEO of Maguire Oil Company and a former SMU trustee. In announcing the gift, Maguire said that he was interested in ensuring that a dialogue on ethics be part of a university education. Toward that goal he established the Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility in 1995.

A graduate of the Wharton School of Finance at the University of Pennsylvania, Maguire has been a longtime supporter of SMU. He donated funds for the establishment of the Maguire Oil and Gas Institute in the Edwin L. Cox School of Business in 1975. In addition to the Maguire Chair in Ethics, he has endowed the Cary M. Maguire Professorship in Oil and Gas Management in the Cox School of Business. He also has provided funds for one of the two buildings in the business school; it was named the Maguire Building in his honor. In 1989, he established the "The Ideas for Education: the Maguire Awards," a university program that rewards SMU faculty, staff and students for productivity gains.