Wheaton College Appoints Inaugural Palau Endowed Chair

May 26, 2023

Wheaton College is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Rick Richardson to serve as the inaugural Luis Palau Chair of Evangelism, effective July 1, 2023.

Rick Richardson, Ph.D.“Dr. Richardson is beloved by his colleagues and students alike and is respected among American evangelical pastors,” said Provost Karen An-hwei Lee. “As a scholar-practitioner, he is interculturally fluent in global contexts as well as a loving shepherd of pastoral leadership at multicultural churches.”

Dr. Richardson has taught at Wheaton since 2005 and currently serves as a professor of evangelism and leadership and the Director of the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center Research Institute. He is also the founder and director of the Church Evangelism Institute, working with hundreds of pastors and church leaders to expand evangelistic reach and grow their congregations. He has served in campus ministries for 25 years and will continue to bring mission-focused energy and a sense of vision to the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center. With these and many other accomplishments, Dr. Richardson is uniquely equipped to fill the inaugural chair position, which was endowed to advance church, mission, and evangelism engagement at Wheaton College and throughout the broader Christian world.

Dr. Junias Venugopal, Associate Dean of the Litfin School of Mission, Ministry, and Leadership, also affirms Dr. Richardson’s long-standing merit for this new appointment. “He’s an excellent classroom teacher, careful and painstaking as a researcher, and a very articulate writer-publisher,” Dr. Venugopal said.

The vision and values of this chair were embodied in the life and ministry of Dr. Luis Palau Jr., who died at age 86 in 2021 after decades of Christian evangelism across the world. After working for the Rev. Dr. Billy Graham ’43, LITT.D. ’56 as a Spanish translator and co-evangelist, Dr. Palau founded the Luis Palau Evangelistic Association (now the Luis Palau Association) in Beaverton, Oregon, which he modeled after Graham’s own mission. He received an honorary doctorate from Wheaton College in 1985 and often visited Wheaton’s campus to deliver lectures and Chapel talks.

The Palau Endowed Chair will serve as a continuation of Palau’s legacy and ministry, which remain deeply connected to Wheaton College’s commitment to evangelical mission in the world.

“Dr. Richardson is a passionate, joyful evangelist and careful observer of contemporary culture,” said President Philip Ryken ’88. “As a model of effective gospel proclamation and a mobilizer of other evangelists, Dr. Richardson helps the church carry out its greatest commission to reach the world with the good news of Jesus Christ.”