Richard Heitzenrater, William Kellon Quick Professor Emeritus of Church History and Wesley Studies at Duke Divinity School, was awarded the 2011 Distinguished Alumni Award by the National Alumni Council for the Divinity School Alumni Association. The award was presented during the Alumni Luncheon on Oct. 11.
Heitzenrater earned three degrees from Duke: an A.B. in history from Trinity College in 1961, a B.D. in church history in 1964, and a Ph.D. in religion and history in 1972. He is an ordained minister in the United Methodist Church and served in a parish in Pennsylvania before accepting his first academic appointment to teach at Centre College in Kentucky. He returned to Duke Divinity School as a member of the faculty in 1993, after teaching at Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University.
His record of significant scholarship was punctuated by his breakthrough discovery of the code John Wesley used to write his journals , allowing the journals to be transcribed for the first time. In addition, Heitzenrater has authored 16 books and is the general editor of the Works of John Wesley. Though he retired in 2009, he continues his research and writing about John Wesley and Methodist studies.
Heitzenrater has shared his other talents with the Divinity School community. While a student, he designed the Divinity School logo, still used today. His skill as a craftsman and builder is on display in a number of lecterns used in classrooms, which he built from reclaimed wood from Duke University’s construction and renovation projects. He is currently designing display panels for art and photographs at the Kilgo entrance to the Divinity School.
The Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes graduates of the Divinity School whose service to God, the church, and the human community has been remarkable and exemplary. Established in 1973, it is the highest honor given by the Divinity School Alumni Association. It is presented to one individual each year. The selection is made by the Award Committee (the three immediate past-presidents, the president, and the president-elect of the association) considering only the nominations received from graduates of the Divinity School.