Divinity School

Dear alumni and friends,

The fall semester at Vanderbilt Divinity School began in the best way—surrounded by our caring community of alumni/ae, faculty, staff, returning students, new students, family and friends. On August 23, with gratitude to the Carpenter Foundation, we celebrated the opening of our beautiful E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation Wing. The convocation and dedication ceremony reinvigorated our call to engage in theological inquiry and prepare agents of social justice. Now, from within greater spaces, our teaching and learning can extend our mission to share thoughtful understanding out in the world.  

Growing into our building expansion, we added a 30-hour Master of Theology program for those who already have a Master of Divinity or equivalent and wish to return to school to study in a particular area related to ministry or to prepare more fully for applying to doctoral programs.  

This past spring, thanks to generous support from Barbara Wendland, a United Methodist lay woman, we launched the Wendland-Cook Program in Religion and Justice. Directing the program is Joerg Rieger, Distinguished Professor of Theology and the Cal Turner Chancellor’s Professor in Wesleyan Studies. The program encourages student discussions about economic and ecological justice issues, engages communities of faith and provides faculty with resources for trans-institutional research collaboration.  

Yet, still ahead of our focus on curriculum innovation is our dedication to facilitating success for our students and faculty. You, too, can be a partner in their aspirations. Your gift this year, when combined with contributions from fellow donors, allows me to award additional scholarships to promising students like Maria Angeline Michonski, MDiv’19, the 2019 Divinity School Founder’s Medalist. She aims to work in the nonprofit sector to create sacramental experiences for LGBTQIA+ people in the South, and to educate people on holistic, ecological and ethical approaches to farming and gardening. We hope you stand beside us in helping our students and faculty make positive contributions to society.  

I invite you to join me in supporting growth and opportunities at the Divinity School by making a gift of any size. With heartfelt appreciation on behalf of our students and faculty, I thank you for your generosity. 


Emilie M. Townes
Dean and E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Chair
Professor of Womanist Ethics and Society