Campbell Divinity School welcomed more than 300 people, including 130 alumni, to campus today to celebrate Alumni Day and the retirement of Michael G. Cogdill, founding dean of the school.
Speaking at the chapel service in Cogdill’s honor, Jerry Wallace praised Cogdill’s 36 year career at Campbell and led the crowd in Butler Chapel in a unison “Dr. Cogdill, we love you” to conclude his introductory remarks.
“We are here today to give thanks and express our love for a unique man called Mike Cogdill. Thank you for being there, with us and for us and alongside of us, in our walks of life,” said Wallace.
Cogdill served as Founding Dean and Professor of Pastoral Leadership from 1996-2010. During his 14 years as dean, he led the development of an innovative curriculum, the building of a solid endowment, the achievement of the school’s full accreditation and the strengthening of church ties throughout Baptist and other circles. He also saw the creation of a Doctor of Ministry degree program and helped guide the work of the Butler Chapel Campaign Cabinet resulting in the building of Campbell’s first-ever chapel.
A native of South Carolina, Cogdill earned academic degrees from Mars Hill College (BA in Religion), Southeastern Seminary (MDiv, DMin) and North Carolina State University (MS). His doctoral work was in congregational leadership and his additional master’s work focused on Religion and Society. Cogdill has been the recipient of numerous honors while at Campbell, including being named Professor of the Year in 1992 and having the 1997 yearbook, The Pine Burr, dedicated in his honor. After stepping down as dean, Cogdill served as a full time professor of Christian Ministry.
Cogdill has spoken to churches and denominations of diverse identities. He speaks frequently at chapel services, pastors at conferences and church gatherings and is well-known for his passion to encourage college and university undergraduate students to answer God’s call upon their lives. Cogdill’s hope is for all divinity scholars to discover that “it is worth a life to be a Christian minister.”
During the morning’s ceremony, Clella Lee presented Cogdill with a book of letters of gratitude. Coordinated by Lynn Brinkley, the letters were written by alumni, students, faculty and staff to try to put into words the impact of Codgill’s leadership and teaching.
“Life transitions, and retirement in particular, open up space and time for reflection in the presence of God,” Lee told Cogdill. “We hope that these letters serve as words of sincere affirmation and give you a true sense that serving as dean and professor of this school has been worth a life.”