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Howard University’s Divinity School Just Named Its First Woman Dean in Its 150-Year History

Dr. Pierce is the first woman to serve as dean in the School’s 150-year history.

President Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick announced the appointment of Dr. Yolanda Pierce as the new dean of Howard University School of Divinity. Dr. Pierce will assume the position on July 24 and report to Dr. Anthony Wutoh, Howard University Provost and Chief Academic Officer. She is the first woman to serve in this role in the Divinity School’s 150-year history.

“Dr. Pierce brings extraordinary experience to this position, and we are extremely fortunate to have attracted a person of such distinction,” said President Frederick. “She is an outstanding scholar as well as an energetic administrator. She comes to the Divinity School at a crucial time in its history, when the school is amid exciting growth.”

Dr. Pierce will provide academic and administrative leadership, vision, and oversight for graduate and professional programs in the School of Divinity. She comes to Howard from Princeton Theological Seminary, where she served in various roles including the Elmer C. Homrighausen Associate Professor of Religion and Literature and the Director of the Black Church Studies Program. Dr. Pierce’s research expertise includes African-American Religious History; Womanist Theology; African-American Literature; and Race and Religion. While a faculty member of Princeton Theological Seminary, Dr. Pierce concurrently served as the Lilly Endowment Curator & Director of the Center for the Study of African American Religious Life at the Smithsonian National Museum of African-American History and Culture (NMAAHC).

“I am honored to have the opportunity to serve as the dean of Howard University’s Divinity School,” said Pierce. “Howard University Divinity School has a rich heritage and a promising future. An outstanding faculty, skilled staff, excellent students and a very distinguished body of alumni all contribute to a school poised and ready to enter a new stage in its development as a leader in theological education. Working together, I believe we can strengthen the presence of the Divinity School at Howard and help to envision what theological education will look like in the 21st century.”

Pierce earned her A.B. in English and Religion from Princeton University, two Masters degrees (English and Africana Studies), and a Ph.D. in Religion and Literature from Cornell University.  A respected educator, Dr. Pierce is the recipient of various awards and acclamations, including “The Root 100” Most Influential African-Americans, and the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Livingstone College. Dr. Pierce is also an ordained Christian minister, with deep roots in the Church of God in Christ. As a community leader, Dr. Pierce maintains a highly visible public intellectual presence through frequent appearances on television, radio, and various social media.

Take a look at these excerpts from her interview withReligion & Ethics NewsWeekly as she talks about the movie “12 Years a Slave” and about Christianity and slavery in America.

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