Marla Frederick Becomes 1st Black Woman Dean of Harvard Divinity School

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Dr. Marla Frederick has become the first Black woman to be named the Dean of Harvard Divinity School.

According to the Harvard Gazette, President Claudine Gay confirmed Frederick's history-making appointment as Dean of Harvard Divinity School, which will begin on January 1, 2024.

“We are thrilled to welcome Marla Frederick back to the University,” Gay said in a statement. “Her scholarship and her leadership have been distinguished by wide-ranging curiosity and engagement, and I am confident that those qualities, as well as her deep devotion to the mission of Harvard Divinity School, will make her an outstanding dean.”

Frederick previously taught in the African and African American Studies department at Harvard from 2003-2016. She later became the Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Religion and Culture at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology.

Frederick said she's excited to return to Harvard.

“I am honored to return to Harvard as the next dean of Harvard Divinity School,” she said in a statement. “It is a place bustling with conscientious faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends who are committed to the work of justice and human flourishing informed by deep study.

“I look forward to joining the HDS community in developing religious and civic leaders for our increasingly complex and diverse society. Dean David Hempton, through his years of dedicated service, has worked alongside HDS stakeholders to craft and implement a transformative global vision for the school, which I humbly respect and embrace, and look forward to cultivating and ultimately expanding,” Frederick added.

Frederick focuses her studies on the intersection of religion, race, and politics and how it shapes the Black experience in America.

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