Harvard Divinity School has chosen Marla Frederick as its new dean, marking a historic milestone. Frederick, an accomplished cultural anthropologist focusing on the Black religious experience, will take on the role from January 1. She succeeds David Hempton, who has held the position since 2012.
Frederick’s selection is significant, as she becomes the first woman dean and the first Black woman to lead the school in its 207-year history. Claudine Gay, Harvard’s president, expressed confidence in Frederick’s leadership qualities and her notable academic background, making her well-suited for this role.
With a substantial academic background, Frederick has authored four books, delving into topics such as religion and media, Black activism in the U.S. South, and the resilience of Black institutions. Her influential roles in academic organizations, including the presidency of the American Academy of Religion in 2021, further underscore her expertise.
Frederick’s accomplishments include titles like “Colored Television: American Religion Gone Global” and “Televised Redemption: Black Religious Media and Racial Empowerment.” Her ethnography, “Between Sundays: Black Women and Everyday Struggles of Faith,” and collaborative work on American democracy showcase her depth of insight.
Appreciative of the opportunity, Frederick remarked, “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.”
Re-reported from the article originally published in Religion News Service