Faculty Profile

J. Russell (Rusty) Hawkins

Dean, John Wesley Honors College; Professor of Honors Humanities and History

John Wesley Honors College


J. Russell (Rusty) Hawkins has served as the Dean of the John Wesley Honors College since 2022. Proudly hailing from Kansas City, Rusty is a graduate of Wheaton College (B.A.), Montana State University (M.A.), and Rice University (Ph.D.). He also served for a year with AmeriCorps as a literacy program coordinator in the public schools of Boston, Massachusetts. Rusty joined the John Wesley Honors College in 2009 and teaches “What is the Good Life?” and “Wisdom, Culture, Justice Through the Ages II,” in the JWHC, as well as courses in American history for the Social Science Division. An accomplished teacher, the student body of Indiana Wesleyan has twice awarded Dr. Hawkins “Professor of the Year” (2012 and 2023).

Dr. Hawkins is the author of The Bible Told Them So: How Southern Evangelicals Fought to Preserve White Supremacy (Oxford University Press, 2021), which explains how southern white Christians' theology informed and shaped their resistance to the civil rights movement.  He is also the co-editor of Christians and the Color Line: Race and Religion after Divided by Faith (Oxford University Press, 2013), a ten-year follow up to Michael O. Emerson and Christian Smith's book, Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America.

As a scholar of religion and race in recent America, Dr. Hawkins has been an invited lecturer at churches and universities across the country. His research has been featured in such places as The New York Times, The Atlantic Monthly, ProPublica, and NPR.

He is currently working on a religious biography of former Alabama governor, George C. Wallace.

Rusty and his wife, Kristi, have two sons, Caleb and Micah.  As a family they are endeavoring to visit every National Park in the United States. In addition to traveling with his wife and boys, Rusty enjoys reading (history, of course!), running (not as much as he should), and cheering on his beloved Kansas City Chiefs and Royals.

American History

Rice University,


Montana State University,


Wheaton College,