Dean William A. Graham recently announced two changes to endowed professorships at Harvard Divinity School. Karen King is the new Hollis Professor of Divinity, after legendary Harvard professor—and previous holder of the Hollis Chair—Harvey Cox officially retired on June 30, 2009, after 44 years of teaching at the University. (Cox is now Hollis Research Professor of Divinity.)
The Hollis Professorship was established in 1721 by Thomas Hollis and is Harvard's oldest chair. King is the first woman to hold the chair, "something of which we can all be proud," wrote Dean Graham in a message to the HDS community.
"In my opinion, the abiding significance of the appointment will be that it marks another advance of women's presence into every dimension of the University's academic life," said King.
Trained in comparative religions and historical studies, King pursues teaching and research specialties in the history of Christianity. Her particular theoretical interests are in discourses of normativity (orthodoxy and heresy) and gender studies.
Kevin Madigan, historian of medieval Christian religious practice and thought, has taken over King's previous role as the Winn Professor of Ecclesiastical History. Madigan began teaching at HDS in 2000 and specializes in high-medieval scholastic biblical exegesis and theology. The Winn Professorship was established in 1877 through a bequest by Jonathan Bowers Winn.
"I am grateful to Dean Graham for bestowing the honor of this chair at this preeminent school of religion," Madigan said. "Let me seize this opportunity also to thank friends, family, and colleagues for their constant and collegial support of my teaching and writing work. I am keenly conscious of maintaining the high standards set by Karen King and other previous holders of this chair and will do my best to justify the confidence the School has expressed in me."
—by Jonathan Beasley