By Ariel C. Emberton, student news writer, Office of University Communications
CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. – “Dr. Early is a challenging and creative professor in the classroom.He knows well the fields of church history and historical theology,” Dr. Donna Hedgepath, provost and vice president for academic affairs, said during Campbellsville University’s first chapel service of the year Aug. 22 in Ransdell Chapel.
During the service, new faculty members were introduced, and Dr. Michael V. Carter, president of Campbellsville University, gave a welcome address and awards were given out to select faculty members. Dr. Joseph Early Jr., associate professor of theology and Quality Enhancement Program director, was presented the 2018 Distinguished Tenured Faculty Award.
The award is given by the Campbellsville University Advancement Board and consists of a stole and a monetary award. Sara Curry, chair of the board, along with Betty Hord and Randy Herron made the presentation.
“Early is an active professor around campus, and is known for portraying reformer Martin Luther during the Reformation Day activities, complete with monk robe,” Hedgepath said.
During the award ceremony, Hedgepath addressed Early’s connection with his students. She commended him on his support and help given to each student who enters his office or classroom.
Early can often be found assisting students with their academics, helping with graduate school necessities, catching up with CU alumni or attending sporting events. Reviews from Early’s students, both those in entry level and upper division courses, show he is willing to speak with them when his counsel is sought.
While at CU, Early has contributed to the theology program in a variety of ways. He created the content needed to teach online history, theology and philosophy within the Campbellsville University’s School of Theology. From 2013 to 2017, Early worked as an undergraduate recruiter for the theology department.
Early works with the university pertaining to her Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges accreditation that focuses on a QEP which highlights ethics on the Christian campus known as, “Find your Compass: Developing a Basis for Ethical Decision Making.”
Early is in his fifth year as QEP director and has helped guide student growth through lecture series, movie nights and other events. Students are provided with a chance to come together and discuss ethical issues in a scholarly setting.
“Dr. Early continues to grow as a scholar,” Hedgepath said. Outside of his work at CU, Early serves on the editorial committee for Baptist History and Heritage Society, is a member of the East Texas Historical Association, Kentucky Baptist Historical Association and National Association of Baptist Professors of Religion, among others.
Early has had 16 papers published in journals and written multiple books. “A History of Christianity” was published in 2015 and is used at colleges and universities across the United States. Early’s books focus on church history, Texas Baptist history and introductions to the New and Old Testaments. Early is compiling a potential three-volume work that will dive into the “role, nature and purpose of women as depicted by Christianity’s greatest theologians from the earliest times until now,” Hedgepath said. The working title is “Blame It on Eve.”
Hedgepath said Early’s leadership and initiatives, both on and off campus, are making CU a better university.
Early is entering his tenth year at CU. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Political Science from Cumberland College in 1993. His Master of Divinity was obtained in 1997 from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Early earned his Ph.D. in church history at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, in 2002. Early has also taught at institutions such as Baylor University and Cumberland College or the University of the Cumberlands, as it is today.
Early is married to Tiffany Early and both are members of Saloma Baptist Church in Campbellsville. Early is the son of Phyllis and Dr. Joe Early Sr. of Campbellsville. Early Sr. serves as part-time special assistant to the president and assistant to the vice president for academic affairs.
Campbellsville University is a widely-acclaimed Kentucky-based Christian university with more than 10,000 students offering over 90 programs of study including 20 master’s degrees, six postgraduate areas and seven pre-professional programs. The university has off-campus centers in Kentucky cities Louisville, Harrodsburg, Somerset, Hodgenville and Liberty with instructional sites in Elizabethtown, Owensboro and Summersville, all in Kentucky, and one in Costa Mesa, Calif., and a full complement of online programs. The website for complete information is campbellsville.edu.