Scott Thumma Named Interim Academic Dean

President Heidi Hadsell is pleased to announce that Scott Thumma, Professor of Sociology of Religion and Director of the Doctor of Ministry program, will serve as Academic Dean for the next 18 months.

“Scott brings considerable academic and administrative experience, commitment to Hartsem, lots of ideas, a good network, and a friendly spirit to his work as Dean. Scott also brings about 20 years of history with Hartsem, so he knows us very well indeed,” President Heidi Hadsell said. “I am delighted that he has agreed to step into this role, and I look forward to working with him as Dean.”

Dean Thumma’s M.Div. is from Candler School of Theology and Ph.D. from Emory University.  He is the director of the Hartford Institute for Religion Research and co-leads the Faith Communities Today research project.

“There is no better or more interesting seminary in the U.S. than Hartford Seminary,” he said. “I’m proud to be serving as its Academic Dean. Our school is a unique place and our students are wonderful. Together we can make it even more enjoyable and relevant in our challenging times.”

In addition to his other roles, Dean Thumma is responsible for several research websites and has co-led a Lilly Endowment initiative to improve the web dissemination of its funded programs for 15 years. He has published numerous research reports, articles and chapters in addition to co-authoring three books, The Other 80 PercentBeyond Megachurch Myths and Gay Religion.


Former Academic Dean Uriah Kim passes the baton to Scott Thumma.

His ongoing research projects focus on megachurches, the rise of nondenominationalism and the impact of the Internet on congregational dynamics. Dean Thumma frequently consults with congregations, denominations and parachurch groups. He is a 25-year member of Religious Research Association (RRA), the Association for Sociology of Religion and the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion. This year, he was elected President of the Religious Research Association.

Dean Thumma grew up in an independent fundamentalist Baptist church in rural Pennsylvania, but has belonged to eight different denominations throughout his religious quest and has visited many hundreds of churches, mosques and other religious communities for work and pleasure.  He and his wife Jennifer have three grown children, almost all of whom are out of the house, and several cats.

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