Richard J. Wood was Earlham’s president from 1985-96.
Wood completed his undergraduate studies at Duke University; completed his M.Div. at Union Theological Seminary; and his Ph.D. from Yale University. An expert in Japanese philosophical thought, ethics and aesthetics, Wood had been a member of Earlham’s philosophy faculty from 1966-80. In 1980 he left Earlham to become vice president of academic affairs at Whittier College where he became a Quaker.
During his tenure as president of Earlham, Wood became a recorded minister. Although there were a number of controversies during Wood’s tenure, Earlham received a great deal of positive national publicity. He was committed to preserving Earlham's Quaker identity and improving ties with Quaker constituencies. In 1987, he helped lead a successful capital campaign.
After his resignation in 1996, Wood became the Dean of the Yale University Divinity School. Five years later he became president of the United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia (2001-06). He was named, through presidential appointment, chair of the U.S.-Japan Friendship Commission of the United States (1994-2002) and also was chair of the U.S.-Japan Cultural and Educational Conference.
He was president of The Japan Society of New York (2006-2009) and took the Society through its 100 year anniversary celebration. In 2010, the government of Japan awarded him The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star, the Japanese equivalent of a knighthood.