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New Director to Head World’s Largest Association of Religion Scholars

April 19, 2006

Contact: Steve Herrick

John R. Fitzmier has been appointed executive director of the American Academy of Religion, the world’s largest association of scholars of religion. Currently a religion professor at Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Graduate University, he assumes his new position at the association’s headquarters on the campus of Emory University in Atlanta on July 1.

"The American Academy of Religion board of directors is delighted to appoint Dr. Fitzmier," said Diana Eck, professor of religion at Harvard University and president of the association. "He has had a long and distinguished career in religious studies and theological education, and his consummate leadership skills and intellectual experience will serve the field well."

Fitzmier served six years as vice president for academic affairs and dean at Claremont School of Theology, where he managed faculty and student affairs, admissions, financial aid and the library, and led a team of trustees who rewrote the school’s mission statement. Prior to his work at Claremont, he was associate dean of the Divinity School of Vanderbilt University. He earned the Ph.D. in religion at Princeton University in 1986 and the M.Div. from Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary in 1981. He is the author of two books, "The Presbyterians," with Randall Balmer of Columbia University, and "New England’s Moral Legislator: Timothy Dwight, 1752-1817."

"I am deeply honored to have been elected to this position, particularly in an era such as ours, when the need to understand religion has become increasingly important" Fitzmier said. "I am eager to begin work with the executive staff in Atlanta, our board and regional groups, our members and our partner societies, particularly those who study religion, theology and sacred texts."

Fitzmier will succeed Barbara DeConcini, who is completing her third five-year term as executive director. "I am delighted–both for Dr. Fitzmier and for the American Academy of Religion," DeConcini said. "All of us in the executive offices are looking forward to welcoming him and to working together with him on a smooth and seamless transition this summer."

Founded in 1909, the American Academy of Religion promotes academic research, publishing and teaching about religion. The association has 10,000 members in 2,000 schools, colleges, and universities throughout North America and abroad.

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