Marion E. Wade Center’s Crystal and David Downing Retiring in June, Jim Beitler to Serve as New Director

May 6, 2024

Wheaton College IL Marion E. Wade Center in Summer

Drs. Crystal and David Downing are retiring at the end of June after six years of exemplary leadership. As co-directors of the Marion E. Wade Center and co-holders of the Marion E. Wade Chair of Christian Thought, the Downings have faithfully served Wheaton College. Among their many accomplishments, they brought the seven Wade authors to scholars, teachers, and children worldwide.

The Marion E. Wade Center promotes cultural engagement and spiritual formation by offering a collection of scholarly resources that are internationally unique. In particular, the Center emphasizes the relevance of seven British Christian authors who provide a distinctive blend of intellect, imagination, and faith: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Dorothy L. Sayers, George MacDonald, G.K. Chesterton, Owen Barfield, and Charles Williams.

James BeitlerProfessor of English Dr. Jim Beitler ’02, M.A. ’04, has agreed to serve as the Center’s next director and Marion E. Wade Chair of Christian Thought. He will retain his faculty status as a full professor of English while taking on a lighter teaching load amid his new responsibilities.

Dr. Jim Beitler’s scholarship focuses on the rhetoric of Christian witness and writing as a spiritual activity, looking to C.S. Lewis, Dorothy L. Sayers, and others 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. 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,” said Provost Karen An-hwei Lee.

To learn more about the Wade Center, visit