Vanderbilt Divinity School in Nashville, Tn., has appointed it’s first openly-gay black female dean.
Described as a “liberal oasis,” the institution appointed Emilie Townes as the 16th dean of the school.
The school’s “Commitments” page states that it recognizes “the rights of lesbians and gay men within the religious community and the need for the eradication of civil discrimination based on sexual orientation.”
“I am excited about becoming part of this slice of God’s cloud of witnesses as we shape ourselves into being responsive to holding traditions and the future together,” Townes said during her convocation address. “Not out of a sense that traditions are static but with an appreciation for the fact that they are dynamic and actually morph and change, though slowly at times. And also not out of a sense that the future is some magic potion that allows us to neglect the work we must do today.”
Vanderbilt University Provost Richard McCarty said the school chose Townes as the new dean because they want “someone to come in and make us better.” McCarty also stated that her sexuality was irrelevant.
Townes has held the position since July 1.
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