Meet the new dean at Vanderbilt Divinity Community Breakfast

Vanderbilt Divinity School (Vanderbilt University)
Vanderbilt Divinity School (Vanderbilt University)

Vanderbilt Divinity School’s first community breakfast for the new school year will be a Sept. 24 open forum with its new dean, the Rev. Emilie M. Townes. The breakfast begins at 7:30 a.m. in the school’s Reading Room.

Townes, who is also the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of Womanist Ethics and Society, will speak briefly about her intellectual and spiritual journey to Vanderbilt. The rest of the hour will be devoted to a question-and-answer forum with her. Video of the forum will be posted later at

Emilie Townes portrait
Emilie M. Townes (Vanderbilt/Daniel Dubois)

Townes’ broad areas of expertise include Christian ethics, cultural theory and studies, postmodernism and social postmodernism. She has been a pioneering scholar in womanist theology, a field of studies in which the historic and current insights of African American women are brought into critical engagement with the traditions of Christian theology.

The ordained American Baptist clergywoman earned a doctorate in philosophy from the Joint Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary/Northwestern University Program in Religious and Theological Studies. She also received a doctorate in ministry from the University of Chicago.

She came to Vanderbilt from Yale Divinity School, where she was the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of African American Religion and Theology and associate dean of academic affairs. Previously, she was the Carolyn Williams Beaird Professor of Christian Ethics at Union Theological Seminary.

Townes currently serves as president of the Society for the Study of Black Religion. She is a contributing blogger for the religion page of the Huffington Post and the Feminism in Religion Forum.

Reservations are requested for the breakfast, which costs $10. Please register online or call 615-936-8453.