Two new professors will join the Graduate School of Theology faculty in the fall.
Dr. Richard Wright and Kelli Bryant Gibson will instruct classes in the GST. Both will have undergrad responsibilities as well, a common occurrence for faculty in the department, said Dr. Ken Cukrowski, dean of the College of Biblical Studies.
“Usually our graduate faculty teach one undergraduate course per year,” Cukrowski said. “And our undergraduate faculty that are credentialed teach one graduate course per year. It’s good for the students because it broadens the number of courses that we’re able to offer.”
Wright is the chair of the Graduate School of Theology at Oklahoma Christian University. He began working at Oklahoma Christian in 2009 and will return to ACU as faculty after earning his master’s degree in Ancient Church History from the GST in 1986.
“ACU has long been a place associated with excellence in Biblical Studies and in Church History,” Wright said in an email. “The opportunity to become part of that tradition and history was especially appealing.”
Wright said he looks forward to working closely with students and faculty, some of whom he knows well through earlier working contexts.
“These students will help shape the future of the church and, in some cases, the academy,” he said. “I hope to make a positive contribution to their goals.”
Wright will replace Dr. James Thompson who retired last year. Cukrowski said he expects Wright will teach the courses Thompson was responsible for, but could see some new opportunities as well.
“Since we’ve been around for a long time, we have a lot of courses on the books,” Cukrowski said. “So it may be a course that Richard might want to teach may be in the catalog, but maybe we haven’t taught it in a couple years.”
Bryant Gibson resides in England where she will finish her doctorate dissertation on Eastern Christian studies at the University of Oxford. She specializes in ancient church history.
Bryant Gibson will also have dual responsibilities in the GST and undergrad department. She will be more involved than Wright on the undergraduate side of things because of her expertise on the topic of Islam, Cukrowski said.
“I suspect that she’ll be the person on campus who knows the most about Islam,” he said. “We’re excited about having her on campus to be able to develop that part of BCORE more deeply.”
Bryant Gibson previously studied at ACU and followed in the footsteps of one of her former professors, Dr. Jeff Childers, in continuing her academic career at Oxford.
Childers, professor and Carmichael-Walling Chair of New Testament and Early Christianity, taught Bryant Gibson for several years.
“Her academic training and her work in church contexts make her an ideal faculty member for the GST,” Childers said. “We see scholarship as a ministry, and want our work to impact the Kingdom.”
Childers also said Bryant Gibson’s expertise on the historic relationship between Christians and Muslims will be vital in educating students, especially given current events in the world.
“We live in an era characterized by snap judgments, polarity, politics and violence,” Childers said. “Kelli’s work can help provide different starting points for more sane and well-informed understanding and conversations.”