Presidents of the School

The Iliff School of Theology was founded in 1892. At that time it functioned as a seminary and school of religious studies of the University of Denver. In 1900, for organizational and financial reasons, Iliff closed its doors. The School reopened in 1910 as a freestanding school of theology and Methodist seminary.

The Iliff President’s page provides biographical information on the persons who have served the school as president since 1910.

Name Dates
Harris Franklin Rall 1910 – 1915
James Albert Beebe 1916 – 1920
Edwin Wesley Dunlavy 1921 – 1924
Elmer Guy Cutshall 1925 – 1932
Charles Edwin Schofield 1934 – 1942
Harry T. Morris 1942 – 1946
Edward Randolph Bartlett 1947 – 1952
Harold Ford Carr 1953 – 1961
Lowell Benjamin Swan 1962 – 1969
Smith Jameson Jones, Jr. 1969 – 1981
Donald Edward Messer 1981 – 2000
David Maldonado, Jr. 2000 – 2004
David G. Trickett 2006 – 2012
Rev. Dr. Thomas V. Wolfe 2013 – Present

Harris Franklin Rall Harris Franklin Rall

July 27, 1910 – September 1, 1915

Harris Franklin Rall was the first president of Iliff after the School reopened in 1910, and he also served as Henry White Warren professor of Practical Theology. President Rall authored 24 books in the fields of theology and biblical studies. His work on the teachings of Jesus reflected the values of early liberalism. Rall later became president of Garrett Biblical Institute in Evanston, Illinois. He died in 1964 at the age of 94.

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James Albert Beebe James Albert Beebe

July 5, 1916 – September 1, 1920

James Albert Beebe came to Iliff from the Englewood Church in Chicago. His area of expertise was Practical Theology, which consisted of homiletics, ethics, worship, religious education, Methodist polity, and public speaking. He was the author of a well-respected and much-used book on Church Administration. After his tenure at Iliff, Beebe went on to become Dean of the Boston University School of Theology; later he became President of Allegheny College in Meadville Pennsylvania. He died in 1934 at the age of 56.

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Edwin Wesley Dunlavy Edwin Wesley Dunlavy

Jan. 7, 1921 – April 30, 1924

Edwin Dunlavy’s educational background is not known. In addition to being president of Iliff, he was professor of Practical Theology. During his presidency, a controversy arose between exponents of conservative and liberal theology which led to his resignation in 1924.

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Elmer Guy Cutshall Elmer Guy Cutshall

July 1, 1925-June 30, 1932

Former president of West Virginia Wesleyan College, President Cutshall’s foremost concern was the training of ministers. He made a systematic study of the various Methodist textbooks used for this purpose over the years. In addition, he headed the new department of Philosophy of Religion. President Cutshall left Iliff to become Chancellor of Nebraska Wesleyan College. He was later involved with several organizations, including Rotary Int’l. Dr. Cutshall retired in 1955, and he passed away in 1982.

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Charles Edwin Schofield Charles Edwin Schofield

July 1, 1934 – June 9, 1942

Dr. Schofield held many estimable positions prior to becoming president of Iliff: Director of the Wesleyan Foundation in Fort Collins; pastor at Bethel Church in Pueblo; pastor at Casper, Wyoming; pastor at Fort Collins; District Superintendent of the Grand Junction District. In addition he was a member of the Colorado Methodist Conference. He wrote or edited seven books. After leaving Iliff, Schofield became President of Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas. Later he became editor of Adult Publications for the Methodist Board of Education in Nashville, Tennessee.

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Harry T. Morris Harry T. Morris

June 15, 1942 – February 14, 1946

A minister for almost twenty years before coming to Iliff, Dr. Morris earned his B.D. and Th.D. degrees from Iliff. His major emphasis was field education. During his tenure, the Iliff Week of Lectures was instituted. He also initiated the publication of The Iliff School of Theology Bulletin, and he supported the publication of The Iliff Review. He died of a heart attack in 1946 at the age of 47.


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Edward Randolph Bartlett Bartlett

March 26, 1947 – April 15, 1952

President Bartlett came to Iliff from DePauw University, in Greencastle, Indiana, where he had been professor of Religious Education and Bible for two decades, and dean for six years. During his presidency at Iliff, the School saw both its assets and its student body double. Taylor Hall dormitory was built during this time, and Dr. Bartlett established the Department of Sociology of Religion. Bartlett also held significant positions within the community, such as President of the Denver Council of Churches, and as Chairman of the Mayor’s Labor-Management-Citizens’ Commission. He died of a heart attack in 1952 at the age of 62.

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Harold Ford Carr Harold Ford Carr

January 1, 1953 – June 15-1961

President Carr was senior minister of the Lakewood Methodist Church in Cleveland, Ohio, before coming to Iliff. Before that he had pastored several other Midwestern churches, and he had taught at Oberlin Theological Seminary and Ohio Wesleyan University. During his time at Iliff, Carr further increased the endowment and led the construction of the Ira J. Taylor Library. He also added two new professorships, one in Christian Ethics and the other in the newly formed Department of Psychology, Counseling, and Pastoral Care. President Carr resigned in 1961 to become Director of the College of Preachers at Garrett Biblical Institute.

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Lowell Benjamin Swan Lowell Benjamin Swan

September 1, 1962 – January 18, 1969

As minister at Warren Memorial Methodist Church in Denver, Dr. Swan’s ties to Iliff were strong long before he became the School’s president. While at Warren, Swan instituted the Frederick J. Cox Memorial Lectures at Iliff, encouraged his young parishioners to attend Iliff, and employed Iliff students as his assistants. His major area of academic interest was history. During his tenure as president, Iliff’s student body and endowment continued to increase. Schlessman Hall was opened in 1963, and Iliff Hall was remodeled. Dr. Swan died in a plane crash on January 18, 1969.

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Smith Jameson Jones, Jr. Smith Jameson Jones, Jr.

September 10, 1969 – February 10, 1981

Rev. Dr. Jones was serving at the Gobin Memorial United Methodist Church in Greencastle, Indiana, when he accepted the position of President at Iliff. Jones had an extensive background in the Methodist church, and he led Iliff as it redefined itself as a graduate school for the training of ministers across denominations. His ecumenical spirit is reflected in the fact that by 1981, twenty-one denominations were represented at Iliff. Due to his recruiting zeal, the student body and the operating budget tripled during his presidency, the library budget quadrupled, the endowment doubled, and the faculty increased by twenty-five percent.

Moreover, faculty salaries increased to among the highest in the nation. hroughout his tenure, Dr. Jones was active in the Methodist Church – he was elected to the University Senate in 1976; he served as a member of the Board of Ordained Ministry from 1977 until his death; and he was a delegate to the General Conference of the UMC in 1968, 1970, 1976, and 1980. Jones left Iliff to become Dean of the Divinity School at Duke University. He died suddenly from heart disease on July 18, 1982.

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Donald Edward Messer Donald Edward Messer

July 1, 1981 – May 31, 2000

Donald Messer, a native of South Dakota, served as President of Dakota Wesleyan University for ten years prior to being named President and Henry White Warren Professor of Practical Theology at Iliff in 1981. Dr. Messer earned his Ph.D. and M.Div. degrees from Boston University and his B.A. from Dakota Wesleyan. He was elected to the 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, and 2000 General and Jurisdictional Conferences of the United Methodist Church, and his ecumenical work with various churches and theological schools has taken him to nearly two dozen countries.

Dr. Messer has been a member of the World Methodist Council since 1986. In addition, he served on the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries from 1988 to 1996, and on the United Methodist Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Affairs from 1996 to 2000. Messer has published nine books and numerous articles.

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David Maldonado, Jr. David Maldonado, Jr.

June 1, 2000 – May 26, 2004

David Maldonado, Jr. assumed the office of president of The Iliff School of Theology on June 1, 2000. An ordained elder in the Rio Grande Conference of the United Methodist Church, Maldonado was on the faculty of Perkins School of Theology, in Dallas, Texas, since 1984. He earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in social work from the University of California at Berkeley. Prior to working in higher education, Dr. Maldonado was a pastor in Texas, a community organizer in California, and the executive director of the Office of Economic Opportunity Migrant Project in Kansas.

He has authored numerous articles and contributed to a number of books. Most recently, he published the autobiographical Crossing Guadalupe Street and edited Protestantes/Protestants: Hispanic Christianity within Mainline Traditions.

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David G. Trickett David G. Trickett

July 1, 2006 – 2012

David Trickett joined the Iliff community as its 13th president and as Henry White Warren Professor of Ethics and Leadership. He was previously chairperson of the board and senior fellow at the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy, and Conflict Resolution (CRDC) at the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University, as well as the founder and president of The Jefferson Circle.

As an ordained United Methodist elder in full connection within The United Methodist Church (UMC), President Trickett has worked in congregations from 350-10,000 members. His service to the UMC includes membership on numerous committees at district, annual conference, and jurisdictional levels; participation in the Oxford Institute of Methodist Theological Studies; election to the World Methodist Council; and service on the denominational Genetic Science Task Force. As an interfaith leader involved in global dialogue, he has worked to bring many different faith traditions together on complex issues.

President Trickett has taught at several theological schools, including Perkins School of Theology, Washington Theological Consortium (which he also headed), Virginia Theological Seminary, Howard University School of Divinity, and the Catholic University of America.

His accomplishments include more than 100 articles, reports, chapters in books, and other writings. His civic achievements are also far-reaching – as chairperson of the U.S. Committee for UNICEF (southeastern region), board member for the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, and as a member of the Fairfax County (VA) Public Schools Human Relations Advisory Committee. He has also served as a National Park Ranger.

Trickett has been a member of organizations such as the American Academy of Religion, Society for Values in Higher Education, Society of Christian Ethics, North American Academy of Ecumenists, American Society of Church History, and National Association of College and University Chaplains. Currently, he is active in many professional, denominational and ecumenical organizations, including continuing service as a member of the board of trustees for the CRDC at the Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University and the JUSTPEACE Center for Mediation and Conflict Transformation of the UMC.

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Rev. Dr. Thomas V. Wolfe Rev. Dr. Thomas V. Wolfe

2013 – Present

Thomas V. Wolfe serves as the Iliff School of Theology’s 14th president and chief executive officer.

Prior to his role as president and CEO, Wolfe served as senior vice president and dean of the Division of Student Affairs, Syracuse University. Previously at Syracuse, he served as the fifth dean of Hendricks Chapel and as the Interdenominational Protestant Chaplain. Prior to his service there, he was pastor of United Methodist parishes in Moravia and Ithaca in upstate New York.

Wolfe holds a B.A. degree from Lycoming College in Williamsport, PA, a Master of Divinity degree from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA, and a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration in Syracuse University. In 1980, Wolfe was ordained elder in full connection with the Upper New York Conference of the United Methodist Church.

Wolfe is currently an elected Senator of the University Senate of the United Methodist Church and is serving as its president from 2013-2016. He has previously served as a trustee at Lycoming College and was a member of its Executive Committee, the Strategic Issues and Assessment Committee, and chair of the Academic Policies Committee.

Among his many civic accomplishments, Wolfe has served the central New York region as the former president for InterFaith Works of CNY, chair of the 2008-2010 White Ribbon Campaigns for Vera House where he completed two full terms on the board and was president of the board in 2006. He has also been involved in a variety of community initiatives to bring diverse people together to address common concerns.