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Philanthropic Priorities

Dream Big

The Center for Faith and Service recently named Vanderbilt Divinity School a “Seminary that Changes the World.” Invoking this spirit, we combine theological study, engagement and activism. Our students and faculty help advance the conversation about issues of global concern through their scholarship, and transform their communities through outreach and ministry.

As we look to our future, we are committed to deepening what it means to be defined in this extraordinary way, and we seek the partners who will help us continue to make it so.




Brandon Scholar

In 2010, Lindsey Krinks was a divinity student by day; by night, an advocate for the homeless community, many of whom had been displaced when Nashville’s 1000-year flood wiped out Tent City along the Cumberland River. Her promise not to abandon them led to her co-founding the interfaith homeless outreach nonprofit Open Table Nashville.

Krinks is one of the many Divinity School alumni/ae who are living out the school’s commitment to help create a more just and humane society through modes of ministry. A scholarship made it possible for Krinks to focus on her life-changing work.

“Finding out that I had been accepted as a Brandon Scholar was truly a blessing. Graduating without the burden of student debt allows me to answer my calling to lift up those at the margins.”

Points of Pride

TRANSFORMATIVE In 2017, The Center for Faith and Service declared Vanderbilt Divinity School A SEMINARY THAT CHANGES THE WORLD
90 Percentage of our alumn i/ae employed within six months of graduation, making our school A LEADER IN PROFESSIONAL PLACEMENT
GROUNDBREAKING VANDERBILT DIVINITY SCHOOL IS AT THE FOREFRONT of theological schools combining ecumenical, interreligious ministerial and scholarly work with engaged activism

Our Priorities


A successful financial aid program attracts exceptional applicants and offers them the ability to dream boldly about their futures.

The Divinity School celebrates its historical and ethical commitment to scholarship support for its students, more than 95 percent of whom receive aid. An investment in ensuring access for the most qualified students regardless of background or need is the cornerstone of our ability to transform the world through leadership in ministry.


The Divinity School comprises co-curricular programs that foster conversations around faith in society.

While we will continue to develop and expand all of these programs, the oldest—the Kelly Miller Smith Institute on Black Church Studies—and the newest, fastest growing—Religion and the Arts in Contemporary Culture—have been identified as funding priorities, with little or no endowed support currently available.

The Divinity School is also committed to offering strong global opportunities for its students. As part of this vision, the school will develop the local, national and international Program in Religion and Justice to address the issues facing religious communities today, while embracing interfaith dialogue and education, and developing informed and articulate visionary leaders.

Generous investments are critical for us to continue and amplify these and other programming ambitions.


Our faculty forge national and international collaborations and contribute to groundbreaking dialogue, publication and methodology.

Endowed chairs provide the financial support necessary to maintain the consistent excellence exemplified by faculty such as Ellen Armour, one of the leading feminist theologians, and Joerg Rieger, whose research links labor, economics and theology.

We pride ourselves on the multiplicity of accomplished voices we bring to the table. For instance, as part of a commitment to our historically diverse faculty and dialogue, we hope to seek endowed support for a scholar of Latin American religious concerns, as well as a scholar devoted to Islam and interreligious studies. An investment in our faculty will allow us to continue to evolve, strengthening our community through access to inclusive experiences and expertise.


Annual gifts can be put to use immediately, providing critical support and sustainability. Examples of ways your annual gift may be used include:

  • Additional scholarship assistance for the passionate students who make up our community
  • The ability to seize opportunities to host speakers and sessions that benefit our student body, Vanderbilt and Nashville
  • Funding for students to pursue degree-enhancing internships and travel


Planned gifts, including bequests and life income gifts, are designed to help you meet your financial and charitable goals while supporting the Divinity School in the long term. 

A bequest from the estate of Mrs. Frances G. Patterson helped deepen the impact of her previously established Gregory Patterson Scholarship. Since the scholarship was endowed, 24 students have benefited from her generosity including three who are currently serving the church or seeking ordination.

Bequests signal an investment in our fundamental potential and promise. New documented bequests from visionary donors can contribute to a healthy fiscal future for Vanderbilt Divinity School.

“The school is committed to active participation in the creation of a healthier, more just, more humane and more ecologically wholesome world. Our faculty members and students bring out the best in what it means to be a caring person in society.”

– Emilie M. Townes, Dean and E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Chair, Vanderbilt Divinity School

Financial Snapshot

How Divinity’s $163.4 million endowment is used

How Divinity’s $163.4 million endowment is used

Our 2017 graduates are impacting their communities through diverse paths that include:

Our 2017 graduates are impacting their communities through diverse paths that include:

For more information about how you can join us in strengthening Vanderbilt Divinity School, please contact or (615) 322-4205.