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Next dean in sight at Vanderbilt Divinity School

  • Written by NNPA News Service

7vandydean-340Dr. Emilie M. Townes, a noted Yale University scholar and administrator, will be the next dean of Vanderbilt Divinity School, pending board approval.

Her official start date as the 16th Vanderbilt Divinity School dean would be July 1.

Townes is currently the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of African-American Religion and Theology and associate dean of academic affairs at Yale Divinity School.

Townes focuses on Christian ethics, womanist ethics, critical social theory, cultural theory and studies, as well as on postmodernism and social postmodernism. Her specific interests include health and health care; the cultural production of evil; analyzing the linkages among race, gender, class, and other forms of oppression; and developing a network between African-American and Afro-Brazilian religious and secular leaders and community-based organizations.

Among her many publications are "Breaking the Fine Rain of Death: African-American Health Issues and a Womanist Ethic of Care"; "Womanist Justice, Womanist Hope"; "In a Blaze of Glory: Womanist Spirituality as Social Witness"; and "Womanist Ethics and the Cultural Production of Evil."

Prior to her appointment at Yale, Dr. Townes served as the Carolyn Beaird Professor of Christian Ethics at Union Theological Seminary in New York. She is a former president of the American Academy of Religion and was inducted as a fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2009. She currently serves as the president of the Society for the Study of Black Religion.

A native of Durham, N. Car., Townes is an ordained American Baptist clergywoman. She earned her bachelor degree from the University of Chicago and her master's degree from its divinity school, her doctorate in the joint Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and Northwestern University program and her doctor of ministry degree from the University of Chicago Divinity School. She holds honorary degrees from Washington and Jefferson College (D.D.) and Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary (D.H.L.). She is a fellow of Saybrook College.

Vanderbilt Divinity School is one of only five university-based interdenominational institutions in the United States and the oldest one in the Southeast.

(Special to the NNPA from The Tennessee Tribune)

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