Vanderbilt University Divinity School

Vanderbilt University Divinity School

Infobox University
name = Vanderbilt Divinity School and Graduate Department of Religion

image_size = 200px
established = 1875
dean = James Hudnut-Beumler
type = Private
postgrad = 230cite web |publisher = Vanderbilt University News Service |title = RE:VU: Quick Facts about Vanderbilt |url = |accessdate = 2008-05-20 ]
city = Nashville
state = TN
country = USA

The Vanderbilt Divinity School and Graduate Department of Religion (usually Vanderbilt Divinity School) is an interdenominational divinity school at Vanderbilt University, a major research university located in Nashville, Tennessee. It is one of only five schools of religion in the United States without a denominational affiliation (University of Chicago Divinity School, Harvard Divinity School, Wake Forest University's Divinity School, and Yale Divinity School are the others).

Early history

Vanderbilt Divinity School was founded in 1875 as the Biblical Department and was under the auspices of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, one predecessor of the present-day United Methodist Church. In 1914, in concert with the University's severance of its ties with the MECS, the school became interdenominational and ecumenical, and in 1915, the school's name was changed from the Biblical Department of Vanderbilt University to the Vanderbilt Divinity School.cite web |publisher = Vanderbilt University |title = Divinity School History |url = |accessdate = 2008-05-20 ] The present physical plant of the school, known colloquially as the "quadrangle" or "quad," was completed in 1960; the chapel that abuts the quad is named for a mid-20th-century dean, John Keith Benton. In 1966 the Graduate School of Theology of Oberlin College in Ohio merged with that of Vanderbilt, increasing the faculty resources of both the Divinity School and the Graduate Department of Religion, as well as the holdings of the school's portion of the University Library.

Civil Rights era

A notable period in the history of Vanderbilt Divinity School was the Civil Rights era. In 1960, African-American Divinity student James Lawson was expelled from the university for his role in nonviolent protests in the Nashville area. This expulsion, in turn, sparked great protest from many members of the Vanderbilt community, including most of the faculty of the Divinity School, who resigned "en masse". The so-called "Lawson Affair" was eventually resolved with Lawson's nominal reinstatement, and the resigned faculty resumed their posts.

Denominations served

Despite having ended formal association with Methodism nearly a century ago, the United Methodist Church is the largest beneficiary of graduates from the Divinity School, with sizable others ordained in denominations such as the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) (which operates a seminarian apartment nearby the campus), the Presbyterian Church (USA), and African-American Baptist, Methodist, and Pentecostal groups. VDS, through the merger with Oberlin and an earlier absorption of a Congregationalist seminary in Atlanta in 1929, maintains a historical relationship (although no legal ties) with the United Church of Christ as well.

Students come from throughout the United States, representing numerous denominations and traditions.

Degrees conferred

The Divinity School awards the following degrees:
*Master of Divinity
*Master of Theological Studies
*Master of Arts
*Doctor of Philosophy


The dean of the Vanderbilt Divinity School is James Hudnut-Beumler, formerly on the faculty of Columbia Theological Seminary in Georgia. Notable recent deans of the Divinity School include Joseph C. Hough, Jr., Sallie McFague, Walter Harrelson, and H. Jackson Forstman. [cite book |last=Johnson |first=Dale A., ed. |title=Vanderbilt Divinity School: Education, Contest, and Change |location=Nashville |publisher=Vanderbilt University Press |date=2001 |isbn=0826513867 ]

Vanderbilt Divinity School is a member of the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada.


External links

* [ Divinity School homepage]

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