Published June 22, 2023
DECATUR—The Aquinas Center of Theology at Emory University welcomed its new executive director, Dr. Gregory Hillis, June 1.
Located at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University, the Aquinas Center has served the greater Atlanta community for more than 35 years. Founded in the Dominican tradition, the Aquinas Center’s mission is to foster faith in the Atlanta Archdiocese and beyond, by offering Catholic scholarly programming that invites ecumenical conversation and dialogue.
Dr. Hillis, who will be the Aquinas Center’s seventh executive director, is enthusiastic about leading the Center at a time of remarkable growth and diversity in the Archdiocese and throughout Atlanta.
“The Aquinas Center has such a rich history of providing dynamic and vital programs for Catholics and people of all traditions, and I’m enthusiastic about further developing the work of the Center to reach even more people, locally, as well as throughout Georgia and the rest of the country,” said Hillis.
“As we began to learn more about Dr. Hillis, it became evident early on that the personal vision which animates his work aligns wonderfully with the overarching vision and mission of the Aquinas Center,” said Kevin Wack, chair of the executive director search committee “His academic skillset combined with his charismatic ability to bring theology into public discourse makes him well-suited to collaboratively lead the Aquinas Center into the future.”
Originally from Alberta, Canada, Hillis earned both an M.A. and Ph.D. from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Prior to joining the Aquinas Center, he spent 15 years as professor of theology and religious studies at Bellarmine University in Louisville, Kentucky. His doctoral research was on early Christian theology, with a focus on St. Cyril of Alexandria, and he continues to work in Catholic-Orthodox relations.
In recent years, Hillis has turned his attention to the life and writings of Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk whose literary estate is housed at the Merton Center at Bellarmine University. In addition to teaching courses on Merton, Hillis has delivered lectures throughout the United States and published several academic papers and articles on Merton’s life and thought. His 2021 book, “Man of Dialogue: Thomas Merton’s Catholic Identity” (Liturgical Press), earned a first-place award from the Catholic Media Association in the biography category.
“I’ve been focused throughout my career on the necessity of dialogue rooted in love, and what attracted me most to the Aquinas Center was the capacity it has to promote and foster dialogue within the Catholic tradition, ecumenically, as well as between religious traditions,” said Hillis.
The new director is a regular contributor to Commonweal and America magazines and appears on various podcasts.
Hillis will join the Aquinas Center’s staff—Alice Cameron, who was recently promoted to director of operations, Deacon Bob Hauert (Catholic-Orthodox program coordinator) and Valeria Longhi (Hispanic outreach program coordinator).