Meet The Dean

     Dean Yolanda Pierce

Dean Yolanda Pierce

YOLANDA PIERCE, PhD, is a scholar, writer, womanist theologian, and accomplished administrator in higher education. She was appointed the Founding Director of the Center for African American Religious Life at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). And she currently serves as Professor and Dean of the Vanderbilt Divinity School.


Pierce’s research specialties include Literature & Religion; Womanist Theology; and African American Religions. A widely-published author, she has written several books, essays, and articles for academic and trade journals including: Time Magazine, Theology Today, and Christianity & Literature

Pierce is the creator and curator of “Touching the Sacred,” an exhibit on material religion and the Black Church. She is a member of various professional organizations, including the Modern Language Association, the American Academy of Religion, and the American Historical Association. 

Pierce has also been the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including fellowships from the Ford Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, and the Pew Foundation.

As a first-generation college student, Pierce earned degrees from Cornell University and Princeton University. She is a native New Yorker, mentor, community activist, daughter of the Black Church, and proud member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Follow her on Twitter, her digital home: @YNPierce.

Pierce’s newest book is In My Grandmother’s House: Black Women, Faith and the Stories We Inherit. And you can regularly read her newest essays in The Christian Century, where she is a contributing columnist.

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