Dr. R. Kirby Godsey

Denomination: Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF)

Professional Life

R. Kirby Godsey, Ph.D., served 27 years as President and CEO of Mercer University before being named Chancellor in 2006. During his successful tenure, the enrollment grew to more than 7,300, and the endowment increased to more than $200 million, with another $300 million in planned giving commitments. He established seven of the university's eleven schools and colleges, including schools of business, engineering and medicine; an academic press; a performing arts center, and an engineering research center. He also led the merger of Georgia Baptist College of Nursing with Mercer. He developed academic partnerships not only across the state, but also around the world.

He has served as a member of the Executive Council of the College Commission for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and on the Executive Committee of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. SACS recognized his outstanding work on accreditation standards by awarding him its highest honor: the Distinguished Leadership Award.

Prior to being named President of Mercer, Dr. Godsey served as Executive Vice President and was Dean of the university's College of Liberal Arts. He previously served as Vice President and Dean of Averett College in Virginia, was a Danforth Associate with the Danforth Foundation, and served as professor of philosophy and religion at Judson College in Alabama.

With a bachelor's degree from Samford University, he earned his Master of Divinity and Doctor of Theology degrees from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, Master of Arts in Philosophy from the University of Alabama and Ph.D. in Philosophy from Tulane University. He is recipient of honorary doctorates from The University of South Carolina, Samford University, Campbell University and Averett University.

He is Chairman of the Board of Birch Communication in Atlanta, Chairman of Myers McRae and a Director of NewTown Builders, LLC. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Rome Chamber Music Festival in New York and the Peyton Anderson Foundation in Macon, Georgia.


In 1998, 2000, 2002 and 2003, Dr. Godsey was named as one of the 100 most influential Georgians by Georgia Trend Magazine. In 2002, he was named the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) III Chief Executive Officer of the Year. The Macon Chamber of Commerce recognized him in 2003 as the Macon Citizen of the Year. In 2006, he was awarded the Salvation Army "Others" Award, the highest honor bestowed by that organization. And, in 2006, both the Georgia Senate and House of Representatives honored him their chambers for his contributions to Mercer, higher education and the communities served by the University.

At its April 2006 meeting, the Mercer University Board of Trustees voted to name the historic administration building on the Macon campus as the R. Kirby Godsey Administration Building. At that same meeting, the Trustees named Dr. Godsey as chancellor and university professor.


Dr. Godsey's first book, When We Talk About God, Let's Be Honest (1996) was branded as "heretical" by the Georgia Baptist Convention at its release then widely embraced by mainstream and moderate Christians, selling over 24,000 copies. In 2005 two books, The Courage Factor: A Collection of Presidential Essays and Centering Our Souls Devotional Reflections of a University President, were published, gathering a treasury of the wisdom and inspiration Dr. Godsey shared during his leadership at Mercer. In 2011 Dr. Godseyreleased Is God a Christian?, a thoughtful, revolutionary book which challenges readers to consider a loving God, big enough for all God's children.

A dynamic and engaging speaker, Dr. Godsey is asked to lecture on a range of topics from theology to leadership  to writing to race relations and beyond.  His lively, thoughtful presentations engage and inspire audiences across the South.

Dr. Godsey is a member of First Baptist Church of Christ in Macon. He and his wife, Joan Stockstill Godsey, have four adult children, Raleigh, Hunter, Erica and Stephanie; and five grandchildren.


Day1 Weekly Programs by Dr. R. Kirby Godsey

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Redeeming Our Religion

Tuesday January 17, 2012
The noted educator and author shows us that religion has been a source of great human good, a deep reservoir of hope and grace, but despite its dark side we can learn to embrace one another as God's children.

Video by Dr. R. Kirby Godsey

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The Rev. Dr. Kirby Godsey - Day1 Conversations with Peter Wallace

Wednesday August 08, 2012
The Rev. Dr. Kirby Godsey sits down with Day1 host Peter Wallace to discuss his life in academia, as Chancellor of Mercer University, and his array of books including his most recent controversial title, "Is God a Christian?" Join us for a conversation of faith and hope, only on Day1.