Barbara Wheeler Receives Distinguished Service Award from Association of Theological Schools
By Anonymous
July 12, 2012

Award Recognizes Wheeler’s Contributions to the Advancement of Theological Education

(July 12, 2012—New York, NY) Barbara Wheeler, Director of the Center for the Study of Theological Education at Auburn Theological Seminary, received the Distinguished Service Award from the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) at its 2012 Biennial Meeting in Minneapolis on June 20, 2012. Wheeler is the twelfth recipient of the ATS Distinguished Service Award which has been awarded biennially for 25 years. Robert W. Lynn, Dean of Auburn from 1960 to 1976, was a previous recipient.

Wheeler served as President of Auburn Theological Seminary for thirty years, from 1979 to 2009. She founded the Center for the Study of Theological Education in 1991 and has led the Center since its founding. She is the author of numerous articles and book chapters on theological education and the future of religion in North America. With Daniel Aleshire, Jackson Carroll, and Penny Long Marler, she wrote Being There, an award-winning book on the culture or theological schools. An elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA), she has served on several national boards and task forces.

Barbara Wheeler is a member of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and has served on boards and national task forces of the denomination. She was a member of f the Theological Task Force on the Peace, Unity and Purity of the Church; , the board of directors of the Presbyterian Publishing Corp., and the Presbyterian Committee on Congregational Song, which is preparing the new hymnal. She is a founding member of the board of the Covenant Network of Presbyterians.

In its citation of her accomplishments, the ATS award committee wrote:

“For twenty years Barbara Wheeler has directed the Auburn Center for the Study of Theological Education, which she founded, and for thirty years she served as president of Auburn Seminary. Through her leadership of Auburn’s research, Barbara has brought informed insight and wise counsel to the community of theological schools gleaned through sustained and thorough inquiry and reflection on the fundamental issues and institutional realities central to the enterprise of theological education. This research has identified changing student identities and aspirations, reflected on the work of boards, identified understandings of theological faculties, and assessed the financial strengths and weaknesses of theological schools. In the context of this research, she has befriended presidents, boards, and faculties in critical times and provided data where previously there was only anecdote and opinion. She has moved with grace and conviction among mainline and evangelical Protestants and Roman Catholics. Auburn’s Leadership that Works project demonstrates her consummate ability to frame generative questions, gather a wealth of information from a wide range of testimonies, and communicate a clear interpretation of effective leadership.”

In her awards speech, Wheeler said, “I’d like to express my gratitude to the institution that has been the center for excellence and faithfulness in theological education during my whole career and that has, in one way or another, facilitated every contribution that I have been able to make: That institution is the Association of Theological Schools.”

The Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada (ATS) is a membership organization of 261 graduate schools that conduct post-baccalaureate professional and academic degree programs to educate persons for the practice of ministry and for teaching and research in the theological disciplines. In her speech, Wheeler identified the ATS, which incorporates member schools from mainline and evangelical Protestant Roman Catholic and Orthodox traditions, as “broadest-based Christian organization in North America, and perhaps the world.” CSTE and ATS have worked in close partnership for many years, and Wheeler expressed her gratitude for the work of ATS and the fruitful collaboration with CSTE.

The Center for the Study of Theological Education (CSTE) offers research and consulting to strengthen the institutions that educate religious leaders. It serves all ATS schools, their associated denominations, and rabbinical and interfaith theological institutions as well. CSTE studies a wide range of topics, including students, faculty, finances, administrative leadership, educational programs and the public role of theological schools. Consultants from the CSTE use its research results to help schools evaluate programs, balance budgets, plan strategy, forge partnerships with other institutions, organize searches, and support seminary leadership, especially new presidents. CSTE is the only research institute devoted solely to theological education. To learn more about CSTE, click here.

CONTACT: Claudia Gunter,, (212) 870-3174