Former CTS Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty Dr. Leah Gunning Francis has been appointed to a vital role in the Indianapolis community. On January 1st, Indiana University Health named Dr. Gunning Francis as Senior Vice President and Chief Mission and Values Officer. While the news that Dean Gunning Francis would be leaving her CTS role is bittersweet, her new role is wonderful news full of promise for our community and state.
According to IU Health, Dr. Gunning Francis will “provide direction to ensure engagement in ethical practice, quality spiritual and pastoral care, and effective philanthropy within the organization and the communities where IU Health is active.” She is looking forward to this vocational expansion, and to serving as a promoter of well-being for all Hoosiers. In her new role, she will be part of a leadership team that operationalizes health equity, putting IU Health’s values into action and making them a reality for employees, patients, and the community at large. She will serve as equal parts educator, minister, and administrator, bringing her skill sets together in a way that takes a big picture view of what health equity and well-being looks like.
When asked about her fondest memories at CTS, Dr. Gunning Francis immediately mentioned times of gathering. “The photo I keep visible on my office bookshelf is from our solar eclipse launch party. It was a moment prior to the Covid-19 pandemic when our community enjoyed music, laughter, and even solar eclipse shaped cookies made by Maarten and Laura. I love it because it is exemplary of a great community gathering, something so simple but so representative of the CTS spirit.” Dr. Gunning Francis holds dear any time that staff, faculty, and students were brought together, particularly when organized around social justice issues. She shares, “It’s so enlivening that CTS as an institution has sought to engage in real issues of disparity that impact residents right here in our own community.”
Leah also cherishes her time as an instructor, joking “every once in a while they let me teach, and every single time that has been one of my favorite things to do. I loved the opportunities to spend dedicated time with students, learning more about them and engaging them in critical theological reflection.”
While there are many things Leah learned during her time at CTS, she particularly values experiencing the way our community is present with one another, even when it is not possible to be present in person. She says, “The human spirit for resilience is more powerful than I think we’ll ever know. In March 2020 when we had to shut down campus due to the pandemic, at that time nobody knew whether they would live or die. I was so proud to see how the CTS community exhibited such care, grace, resilience, and faith through that completely unchartered and scary time. I learned it’s at a time of crisis when people need you most, and I seek to embody that in my new position.”
Leah has left an indelible impact on CTS, our student body, and the work we do to join God’s transforming of the world. Please join us in wishing Rev. Dr. Leah Gunning Francis unparalleled success as she continues that good work in her new role as IU Health’s Senior Vice President and Chief Mission and Values Officer. We look forward to experiencing the positive impact of her leadership in our community for years to come.