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Major Gifts Fund New Chair in Early Christianity

June 3, 2009

Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary has received a major deferred gift to create a future academic chair, the Robert E. Cooley Chair in Early Christianity, at the seminary’s Charlotte campus.

Additional current gifts of $525,000 have also been pledged to fund the new professorship by the fall 2010 semester.  A search committee will soon be recruiting for a professor to fill the new position, and fundraising is ongoing to support this position until the endowment is established.

The endowed chair honors Gordon-Conwell’s second president, Charlotte resident Dr. Robert E. Cooley, an internationally recognized biblical scholar and archaeologist. Dr. Cooley, who served as president of Gordon-Conwell from 1981 to 1997, is widely known for his 50 years of study and excavations in the Middle East that have made him a recognized voice in that part of the world.

He is regarded as one of the early contributors to Syro-Palestinian archaeology, excavating sites in Jordan, Israel and Egypt. He was also an innovator in the archaeological method of excavating mortuary sites, and lectures often on many aspects of archaeology and the Bible. He continues to edit and publish the findings of the monumental, decades-long archaeological expedition at Tell Dothan. 

Thousands of people have gained appreciation for their Christian heritage through his more than 70 Holy Land tours.  During May 2009, Dr. Cooley was a participant in the U.S. Department of State-sponsored Interfaith dialogue with the Council of Religious Institutions of the Holy Land.  The council of top leaders includes chief rabbis, bishops of the Christian communities, and the top leadership of the Muslim community.

For many years, he has also counseled academic institutions throughout North America, Asia, the Middle East and Europe. According to Dr. Barry H. Corey, President of Biola University and formerly of Gordon-Conwell, “Dr. Cooley is recognized in Christian higher education and theological education as one of the leading voices in governance, board leadership, administrative structuring and strategic planning.”

Dr. Cooley has taught at Central Bible College, Evangel College and Missouri State University, all in Springfield, MO; Wheaton College, Wheaton, IL; Gordon-Conwell, and Jerusalem University College, Israel.  

Commenting on the new chair, Gordon-Conwell President Dr. Dennis P. Hollinger notes: “The Robert E. Cooley Chair in Early Christianity will provide the kind of teaching scholar to help students and the Church think biblically at a time when the culture seems to be floundering on these fundamental truths.”

A curriculum vitae and cover letter from interested candidates, or recommendations of potential candidates, should be sent by email to Dr. Timothy Laniak, the Charlotte Dean, c/o pnielsen@gcts.edu.

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