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Retirement of David and Crystal Downing and Appointment of James Beitler as next Wade Director

Crystal and David Downing

Drs. Crystal and David Downing recently announced their retirement as Co-Directors of the Wade Center and co-holders of the Marion E. Wade Chair of Christian Thought. During their six years at the helm of the Wade, 2018 to 2024, the Downings provided dedicated and exemplary service which both broadened the Wade’s outreach and also deepened intellectually rigorous scholarship on the seven Wade authors.

Through their energetic and creative work, the Downings enabled the Wade Center to reach a greatly increased global audience by using their popular and much-loved podcast as well as their video series on Wonders of the Wade which highlights the literary treasures housed here. In addition, David and Crystal have made numerous contributions to Wade related scholarship through their dynamic speaking engagements as well as their highly regarded publications. For example, Crystal’s fifth book, Subversive: Christ, Culture, and the Shocking Dorothy L Sayers, which was honored with a starred review by Publisher’s Weekly, explores various ways Sayers speaks to Christians in the 21st century, from indifferent “nones” to passionate promulgators of polarizing rhetoric. Sayers, the book shows, can shock people into seeing the radically subversive truth of Christian orthodoxy in new ways.

Among David’s Wade related books is his recent New York Times bestseller, C. S. Lewis on Writers and Writing, which has been described as “a definitive collection of wisdom on every style of writing and a celebration of the transformative power of the written word from one of the most influential writers and thinkers of the modern age.”

As Wheaton College Provost, Dr. Karen Lee, noted: “As Co-Directors of the Wade Center and co-holders of the Marion E. Wade Chair of Christian Thought, Drs. Crystal and David Downing have served faithfully as a dynamic duo who brought the seven Wade Authors to worldwide audiences of scholars, teachers, and children. They will be dearly missed by colleagues and students alike.”

Jim BeitlerFollowing their retirement from the Wade on June 30, 2024, David and Crystal look forward to moving out West to be closer to family. The next director of the Wade Center has already been named: Dr. James Beitler, currently Professor of English at Wheaton College, will become the Wade Center’s fifth Director.

Dr. Beitler’s scholarship focuses on the rhetoric of witness and writing as a spiritual activity, looking to C.S. Lewis, Dorothy L. Sayers, and other exemplary communicators as guides for faithful Christian practice. He is the author of Seasoned Speech: Rhetoric in the Life of the Church, Charitable Writing: Cultivating Virtue Through Our Words (co-authored with Dr. Richard Hughes Gibson), and Remaking Transitional Justice in the United States. Dr. Beitler regularly teaches courses dedicated to the Wade authors, including Christianity and Fantasy, Lewis and Tolkien, and Tolkien and Environmental Stewardship (co-taught with Dr. Kristen Page).

A passionate advocate and promoter of the Christian liberal arts with direct entrepreneurial experience, Dr. Beitler is devoted to sustaining the mission and vision of the Wade Center with the continued energy realized by Drs. Crystal and David Downing.