The overlapping pandemics of our present moment—systemic racism, COVID-19, economics, and mental health challenges—have further exposed and intensified the need for Duke Divinity School to reckon with racial injustice in our community, our classrooms, and our wider culture. We recognize and confess that anti-Black racism, in particular, has contributed to economic and institutional growth for predominantly white institutions. Duke Divinity School is no exception. Our history over the last 90-plus years is complex, with signs of faithful witness alongside painful injustice. We need to move boldly toward a more faithful future through repentance and reform.

Learn more about Duke University's anti-racism efforts at https://anti-racism.duke.edu/.

Key Dates

June 9, 2020

Dean Jones announces three task forces to help map a process for Duke Divinity School to engage students, alumni, faculty, staff and other community members in anti-racism efforts. Task forces are focused on witness, study, and self-examination, and are charged with developing, in consultation with others, ideas, questions, and issues that the Divinity School needs to engage as we work together to repent, reform, and recommit ourselves to being anti-racist and to serving Christ more faithfully.

June 17, 2020

President Price announces an anti-racism action plan that aligns with the University’s strategic plan, Toward our Second Century, and which focuses on five areas: (1) empowering our people, (2) transforming teaching and learning, (3) building a renewed campus community, (4) forging purposeful partnerships, and (5) activating our global network.

July 31, 2020

The Witness, Study, and Self-examination task forces submit preliminary recommendations to the Dean in preparation for the 2020-21 academic year.

Sept. 4, 2020

Dean Jones announces four focal priorities for fall 2020: Story Gathering and Listening; Classroom Culture and Mentoring; Worship and Christian Vocational Formation; and Admissions, Financial Aid, and Field Education. Each working group is comprised of students recommended by the Divinity Student Council (DSC), alumni, staff, and faculty. The dean also charges Drs. David Goatley, Nina Balmaceda, and Josh Yates to develop a focus on community-based reparations in collaboration with others across the school and partners across Durham and North Carolina.

Oct. 2020

Story Listening Group invites students, alumni, staff and faculty to share stories of their experiences with racism at Duke Divinity. Information on ways to participate is included below.

Dec. 7, 2020

Reports from four working groups are submitted to the dean.

Jan. 2020

Next steps on anti-racism efforts and a timeline for spring 2020 is released to the Duke Divinity School community.

Working Groups

Duke Divinity interior architecture with window and "Be transformed" text

Story Gathering and Listening

The charge to this group is to create the vehicle(s), processes, and strategies to invite, encourage, and/or solicit the race-related stories of students, faculty, staff, and alumni in order to help Duke Divinity School better understand and grapple with the experiences of those in our campus community, focusing especially on how we can be and do better in the future; to listen, read, and hold space for these stories, honoring the vulnerability and risk of those who shared them; and to create appropriate pathways and mechanisms for story-sharing to shape and inform our anti-racism action plan. 

Coordinators: Katherine Smith, M.Div. ’09 and A.J. Walton, M.Div. ‘11

Faculty: Norman Wirzba and Luke Powery

Staff: Mycal Brickhouse, M.Div. ‘16 and Regina Graham

Students: Leah Reed, M.Div. (3rd Year), Gabby Cudjoe-Wilkes, D.Min. (2nd Year), Teerayut Teerasupaluck, M.Div. (2nd Year)

Alumnus/a: Justin Coleman, M.Div. ‘05

students in Westbrook hallway

Classroom Culture and Mentoring

Topics include preceptor training, implicit bias, and grading. In addition, this group is looking at issues of vocational preparation and mentoring for students of color, as well as new courses and new ways of teaching existing courses.

Co-leaders: Edgardo Colón-Emeric, M.Div. ’97, Ph.D. ‘07 and Laceye Warner, M.Div. ‘95

Faculty: Sangwoo Kim, Th.D. ‘16 and Brittany Wilson, M.T.S. ‘05

Staff: Daniel Corpening, M.Div. ‘12, Deborah Williams, M.Div. ‘19, and Deb Hackney, M.A.C.P. ‘16

Students: Dr. Nancy Nealious, M.Div. (2nd Year), Kat Burgett, Ph.D. Candidate (Preceptor), Isaiah Barlow, M.T.S. (1st Year)

Alumnus/a: Krystal Bracy, M.Div. ‘20

Luke Powery sings during a gospel service

Worship and Christian Vocational Formation

This group continues work begun last spring in the DDS Chapel Task Force, though now also including dimensions of Christian vocational formation more broadly. Topics include racial justice, cultural competency, diverse perspectives in worship planning, and global expressions of worship in Chapel and Christian vocational formation. 

Co-leaders: David Goatley and Christopher Beeley

Faculty: Sujin Pak, M.T.S. ’97, Ph.D. ’06, and Zeb Highben

Staff: Meghan Benson, M.Div. ‘02, Cathy Watson, M.Div. ‘04, and Ashley Cross, M.Div. ‘19

Students: Myrina Robinson, M.Div. (2nd Year), Rajeev Tiwari, M.Div. (2nd Year, continuing from the previous task force), and Debbie Wong, M.Div. ‘19 (ThD student, continuing from the previous task force)

Alumnus/a: Victoria Perez, M.T.S. ‘17

Gray building doorway with fall leaves

Admissions, Financial Aid, and Field Education

This group is charged to examine policies and funding possibilities to address racial bias and to enhance opportunities for students in the financial support the Divinity School offers. This will be divided into two sub-groups: one, focused on policies, and a second that will look at the complex, confidential financial issues that would need to be addressed.

Policies Focus

Co-leaders: David Goatley and Kavin Rowe, Ph.D. ‘05

Faculty: Warren Smith

Staff: Todd Maberry, M.Div. ‘06 and Rhonda Parker, A.B. ’91, M.Div. ‘06

Students: Nicholas Irion, M.Div. (3rd Year), Tyesha Harden, M.Div. (2nd Year), Thankam Rangala, M.Div. (2nd Year), Dr. Linda Coley, M.Div. (3rd Year)

Alumnus/a: Prince Rivers, M.Div. ‘99

Fiscal Analysis/Projections Focus

Co-leaders: Carl Weisner, A.B. ‘89 and Katherine Smith, M.Div. ‘09  

Staff: Cassandra Pettigrew and Dan Struble

David Goatley speaks in Duke Chapel

We may be witnessing the Spirit moving, hovering or brooding over chaos to bring coherence. The fruit of anti-Black racism in the United States has been freshly exposed amid pandemic and protest. The multicultural, multinational and intergenerational demonstrations of disgust with racism and demands for racial justice may be signs of a new creation that God is birthing.

—Prof. David Emmanuel Goatley, Director of the Office of Black Church Studies