Emilie Townes

Emilie M. Townes Named Alumna of the Year 2008


The Board of Trustees of the Baptist Theological Union has named Emilie M. Townes the Divinity School's Alumna of the Year for 2008. Townes is the Andrew W. Mellon Professor of African American Religion and Theology at Yale Divinity School.

After earning her B.A. from the University of Chicago and her M.A. from the Divinity School, Townes earned her Doctor of Ministry degree in 1982, also from the Divinity School, and her Ph.D. from the Joint Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary/Northwestern University Program in Religious and Theological Studies in 1989. She is ordained in the American Baptist Church.

In July 2008, she will be the first African American and first woman to serve as the associate dean of academic affairs of Yale Divinity School. She is also the director of undergraduate studies for the African American Studies Department of Yale University. Also in 2008, she will become the first African American woman to serve as president of the American Academy of Religion.

Townes has taught at Union Theological Seminary, Saint Paul School of Theology, DePaul University, McCormick Theological Seminary and others. She served on the Advisory Committee of the Women's Studies in Religion Program at Harvard Divinity School and acted as the director of the Wabash Center Workshop on Teaching and Learning for African American Faculty

Townes's work focuses on Christian ethics, womanist ethics, critical social theory, cultural theory and studies, as well as on postmodernism and social postmodernism. Her specific interests include health and health care; the cultural production of evil; analyzing the linkages among race, gender, class, and other forms of oppression; and developing a network between African American and Afro-Brazilian religious and secular leaders and community-based organizations.

Townes's books include Womanist Ethics and the Cultural Production of Evil, Breaking the Fine Rain of Death: African American Health Issues and a Womanist Ethic of Care, In a Blaze of Glory: Womanist Spirituality as Social Witness, and Womanist Justice, Womanist Hope. In addition, she is the editor of two volumes: A Troubling in My Soul: Womanist Perspectives on Evil and Suffering and Embracing the Spirit: Womanist Perspectives on Hope, Salvation, and Transformation.

Townes will deliver her Alumna of the Year address, "The Dancing Mind," at 4:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 17, in Swift Lecture Hall. A reception will follow.