2010 Archives

SMU promotes Homiletics Professor Alyce McKenzie
to LeVan Endowed Chair of Preaching and Worship

Professor Alyce McKenzie of SMU's Perkins School of Theology
Alyce McKenzie

October 19, 2010

Dallas, Texas – Southern Methodist University Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Dr. Paul Ludden, has announced that an outstanding scholar and teacher who is also an ordained minister in The United Methodist Church will be promoted to an endowed faculty position in the coming academic year.

Alyce McKenzie, who is currently Professor of Homiletics in Perkins School of Theology at SMU, will be named to the George W. and Nell Ayers LeVan Endowed Chair of Preaching and Worship at Perkins. The appointment will become effective in June 2011, following the retirement of the current LeVan Chair, Professor Marjorie Procter-Smith.

In announcing the forthcoming appointment to the LeVan Chair in Preaching and Worship, Provost Ludden said “The appointment of a faculty member at SMU to an endowed chair signals that the individual has attained the highest levels of accomplishment in scholarship and teaching. Alyce McKenzie is a tremendously accomplished scholar with a vast array of publications in Biblical studies and in preaching, and she is remarkably respected for her teaching within and beyond the University.”

The Dean of Perkins School of Theology, William B. Lawrence, expressed his gratitude to Provost Ludden for the appointment of Professor McKenzie to the LeVan Chair. “Alyce combines in her career both professional experience as a pastor in the church and academic accomplishments as a scholar. She is among the leading Biblical interpreters of wisdom literature. And she is one of the most widely sought preachers at conferences of persons in ministry.”

Professor McKenzie joined the SMU faculty in 1999, after having taught at Princeton Theological Seminary. She was also the pastor of United Methodist churches in eastern and central Pennsylvania. An ordained elder in The United Methodist Church, she is a clergy member of the North Texas Annual Conference, serving on its Board of Ordained Ministry.

As a scholar, she became one of the nation’s most widely recognized authorities on the wisdom tradition in the Bible, particularly as it is expressed in preaching. More recently, she has turned her attention in research to the creative process of preparing and delivering sermons. Her newest book, Novel Preaching, examines the generative work that moves from images, ideas, and texts toward the proclaimed message.

After completing a bachelor’s degree in religious studies at Bryn Mawr College and a Master of Divinity degree at Duke University Divinity School, she earned her Ph.D. at Princeton Theological Seminary. She has been a leader in both academic and ecclesiastical circles regarding preaching. Her contributions have included conferences focused on the professional development of ministers, publications addressing scholarly issues in the guild of homileticians, and programs of theological education for laity.

In 2001, she was selected as a Lilly Faculty Fellow by the Association of Theological Schools and was awarded a grant through the generosity of the Lilly Endowment Inc. In 2010, she began writing a blog on lectionary preaching that has attracted between 2,000 and 2,300 readers each week.

In 2012, Professor McKenzie will be the President of the Academy of Homiletics, the most prestigious guild of academicians working on the topic of preaching in North America.   

The George W. and Nell Ayers LeVan Endowed Chair of Preaching and Worship was established at Perkins School of Theology under the authority of the SMU Board of Trustees in 1972. Appointees to the chair have included H. Grady Hardin, William K. McElvaney and Professor Procter-Smith.

Perkins School of Theology, founded in 1911, is one of five official University-related schools of theology of The United Methodist Church. Degree programs include the Master of Divinity, Master of Sacred Music, Master of Theological Studies, Master of Church Ministries, and Doctor of Ministry, as well as the Ph.D., in cooperation with The Graduate Program in Religious Studies at SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.

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