Richard B. Hays , George Washington Ivey Professor of New Testament, was officially installed as Duke Divinity School’s 12th dean during the school’s Opening Convocation service on Aug. 31 at Duke Chapel.
“The Divinity School is the embodiment of the intention of the university to fulfill its calling in the preparation of a learned ministry,” said Duke University President Richard H. Brodhead, who installed Hays. “It is also the symbol of the long and abiding relationship between church and academy. Today we affirm anew that relationship, symbolized in our motto, Eruditio et Religio, as we install a dean of the Divinity School.”
Hundreds of faculty, staff, students, and other members of the community filled Duke Chapel for Opening Convocation, which is the school’s first worship service of the academic year and includes the procession of the faculty and staff in academic regalia as well as a formal welcome and blessing for new faculty and staff.
Hays will serve a two-year term while the university conducts a national search for a new dean to succeed L. Gregory Jones, who after 13 years as dean stepped down this summer to become vice president and vice provost of global strategy and programs for the university.
In his homily, “I Have Set Before You Life and Death,” Hays expressed concern that church and university often steer individuals to expect a life of ease and safety. He said a Christian life isn’t meant to be entirely comfortable, noting that Jesus clearly tells his followers that they will make big sacrifices.
Hays is internationally recognized for his work on the letters of Paul and on New Testament ethics. He book “The Moral Vision of the New Testament” was selected by Christianity Today as one of the 100 most important religious books of the 20th century. His other influential books include Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul and The Conversion of the Imagination. He has lectured widely in North America, Europe, Israel, Australia, and New Zealand.
Hays came to Duke in 1991 from the faculty of the Yale Divinity School, where he earlier received the M.Div. degree. He earned a Ph.D. at Emory University.
Download or listen to I Have Set Before You Life and Death  in iTunes U.
Read the full text of I Have Set Before You Life and Death  (pdf).
See links to video of the full opening convocation service .