Howard Univer­sity in­stalls first woman Dean of Di­vin­ity School

South Florida Times - - PRAYERFUL LIVING - Cour­tesy of Black PR Wire Dr. Yolanda Pierce

To­day at 11 a.m. Dr. Yolanda Pierce will make his­tory as the first woman to be in­stalled as Dean of Howard Univer­sity’s School of Di­vin­ity. The in­stal­la­tion ser­vice will take place in Dun­bar­ton Chapel in Hous­ton Hall on the West Cam­pus.

"We are ex­cited to have Dr. Pierce in­stalled as the 16th dean and first woman to serve as the dean of the School of Di­vin­ity,” said Provost An­thony Wu­toh. “We look for­ward to the work­ing to­gether to fur­ther the legacy of the Di­vin­ity pro­gram."

Be­fore her ap­point­ment to pro­fes­sor and dean at Howard, Dr. Pierce was the Elmer G. Hom­righausen As­so­ciate Pro­fes­sor of African Amer­i­can Re­li­gion and Lit­er­a­ture and the di­rec­tor of the Black Church Stud­ies Pro­gram at Prince­ton The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary and di­rec­tor of the Cen­ter for the Study of African Amer­i­can Re­li­gious Life at the Smith­so­nian Na­tional Mu­seum of African Amer­i­can His­tory and Cul­ture.

The speaker for the in­stal­la­tion ser­vice is au­thor and po­lit­i­cal com­men­ta­tor Dr. Melissa Har­ris-Perry, the Maya An­gelou Pres­i­den­tial Chair, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Pro Hu­man­i­tate In­sti­tute and found­ing di­rec­tor of the Anna Ju­lia Cooper Cen­ter at Wake For­est Univer­sity.

“The in­stal­la­tion of Dr. Yolanda Pierce as the six­teenth dean and first woman to hold the po­si­tion is a wa­ter­shed mo­ment in the life of Howard Univer­sity and Howard Univer­sity School of Di­vin­ity,” said Re­nee K. Har­ri­son, Ph.D., as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of African Amer­i­can and U.S. Re­li­gious His­tory.

“Dr. Pierce’s lead­er­ship, schol­ar­ship, and re­li­gious com­mit­ments are em­blem­atic of those clouds of women wit­nesses, of­ten hid­den or over­looked, that trail-blazed, sac­ri­ficed and con­trib­uted to the life of the Academy, Church and hu­man com­mu­ni­ties from Amer­i­can slav­ery to present. Dr. Pierce's pres­ence arches us closer to­ward the mark of hon­or­ing women in lead­er­ship and also be­com­ing more in­ten­tional about women serv­ing in sig­nif­i­cant de­ci­sion-mak­ing po­si­tions in the Academy and Church in the 21st cen­tury.,” Har­ri­son con­tin­ued. “We have been gifted with the lead­er­ship of an in­no­va­tive woman ac­tivist-scholar of faith and ex­cel­lence forg­ing us, in truth and ser­vice, into the mil­len­nium in light of the cur­rent and im­pend­ing so­cio-po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic cli­mates.”

Pierce holds a Ph.D. and two M.A. de­grees from Cor­nell Univer­sity and a B.A. de­gree from Prince­ton Univer­sity. Her re­search spe­cial­ties in­clude African Amer­i­can Re­li­gious His­tory, Wom­an­ist The­ol­ogy, African Amer­i­can Lit­er­a­ture, and Race and Re­li­gion.

Pierce is an or­dained Chris­tian min­is­ter, ded­i­cated men­tor, com­mu­nity ac­tivist, board mem­ber of a foster care agency and ca­ble news com­men­ta­tor.

She main­tains a pub­lic in­tel­lec­tual pres­ence through her blogs, fre­quent ap­pear­ances on tele­vi­sion and ra­dio and writ­ings for mag­a­zines and news­pa­pers.

Be­liev­ing that teach­ing and schol­ar­ship are mean­ing­ful only if they truly en­hance peo­ple’s daily lives, she works tire­lessly to bridge the gaps be­tween pul­pit, pew and academy. A na­tive New Yorker, Pierce was raised in the Church of God in Christ and still main­tains a close con­nec­tion to her Pen­te­costal roots.

“With fer­vent ex­pec­ta­tion and deep grat­i­tude in the sesqui­cen­ten­nial year of Howard Univer­sity, we wel­come the in­stal­la­tion of Dr. Yolanda Pierce …” said Ch­eryl J. San­ders Ph.D., pro­fes­sor of Chris­tian Ethics. “Her com­mit­ment to so­cial jus­tice ad­vo­cacy and vi­sion­ary the­o­log­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion streams sig­nif­i­cantly from the con­tri­bu­tions of the 15 deans who pre­ceded her. Dr. Pierce is em­brac­ing this new lead­er­ship chal­lenge at Howard with tremen­dous en­ergy, vi­sion and vis­i­bil­ity. Her in­stal­la­tion is a land­mark cel­e­bra­tion and a note­wor­thy mile­stone for the fu­ture of the­o­log­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion in the United States and be­yond.”

Howard Univer­sity was es­tab­lished on March 2, 1867, by an act of the 70th Congress. The act pro­vided for the cre­ation of a the­o­log­i­cal de­part­ment. In 1870 a new aca­demic unit for the­o­log­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion was es­tab­lished. The As­so­ci­a­tion of The­o­log­i­cal Schools ac­cred­ited the unit in 1940, and in 1971, it be­came a mem­ber of the Wash­ing­ton The­o­log­i­cal Con­sor­tium.

To­day, the School of Di­vin­ity is one of the 13 schools and col­leges within Howard Univer­sity and is the only African-Amer­i­can the­o­log­i­cal school con­nected to an in­sti­tu­tion of higher re­search ac­tiv­ity.

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