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Dear alumni/ae and friends,

Welcome to a new academic year at Vanderbilt Divinity School! It has been exciting to see this year’s entering class and to greet many of them as they begin this great adventure in their lives. It has been wonderful also to see familiar faces as the faculty, returning students, and staff are walking the “new halls” of the Divinity School. There is much to celebrate as we can now see the renovations and new wing to the school take shape. Even more inspiring to me is that the new classrooms that are more learning- and teaching- friendly are ready to go for this new academic year.

As one of the founding schools of the university, begun in 1875, we have challenged ourselves to be the School of the Prophets (Schola Prophetarum) as we seek to represent inclusive excellence in the classroom, and in our interpersonal relationships. We are concerned that we educate the whole student and that the faculty challenges itself to continue to grow our scholarship and pedagogical strategies large, and in the ways that we engage head and heart, body and spirit in the world around us. We believe that academic excellence, strong ministerial formation, and the will to be agents of God’s justice in the world are intricately interwoven. Day by day we strive to make it so.

As we rely on our Purpose and Commitments to guide us, we seek to model civil discourse, stand together against discrimination and bigotry of all kinds, unite when the going gets tough and face adversities together as it is everyone’s responsibility—faculty, students, staff, alums, Board of Visitors—to remain steadfast in our dedication to making real and flourishing the values of equity, diversity and inclusion each and every day.

So embrace this new academic year as we face the challenges of this new day, with vibrant and creative punch to change the world as we change ourselves. I invite you to join me and those beyond our Vanderbilt Divinity community for our fall Community Breakfast on September 28, as we continue these conversations.


Emilie Townes

Emilie M. Townes

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

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