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Dear alumni/ae and friends,

For the past month, we have enjoyed welcoming 75 new students into the fold of our VDS family. Our academic calendar actually began in mid-August with nearly a week of orientation that included time for fun fellowship and spiritual reflection. We have been delighted as well to greet our returning students. My message at opening convocation can be read here.

I would like to share some data on our new class. We have 47 MDiv students and 28 MTS students representing 25 states and two foreign countries. There are slightly more men than women in the new class, with 56 percent male and 44 percent female (an approximate reversal from last year). The average age for our entering students is 29, same as last year.

Of the incoming students, 32 percent identify as racial/ethnic minorities. In addition, our students claim at least 23 different religious traditions. Preparing our students for ministry and scholarship in an increasingly global and pluralistic society continues to be a priority for Vanderbilt Divinity School, so this is a very positive trend that continues from last year’s class.

In addition to our new students, I am very pleased to announce our newest faculty member, Joerg Rieger, whom we recruited from the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University. He will be a Distinguished Professor of Theology. We will have more about Rieger’s scholarship and teaching interests in the October Spire.

This fall we offer several opportunities for alumni/ae and friends to engage in diverse and intellectually stimulating programs, including the 2016 Cole Lectures Oct. 6-7. Ingrid Mattson, the London and Windsor Community Chair in Islamic Studies at Huron University College at Western University in Canada, will deliver two lectures. She will speak on what it means to be a Muslim in the world and what is necessary to live in an authentic religious perspective that is crucial for peace-building.

Please check the VDS calendar for information on this and other happenings throughout the semester.


Emilie M. Townes

E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Chair
Professor of Womanist Ethics and Society

Click here to view the September Spire


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