Yale Divinity School strengthens African American recruiting efforts
As part of a broader outreach effort to ensure as diverse a student body as possible, Yale Divinity School has boosted its efforts at recruiting prospective African American students.
"YDS has had a long history of training African Americans for the ministry," said Anna Ramirez '93 M.Div., associate dean of admissions and financial aid. This history begins with W. C. Pennington, who became the first black student at Yale when he audited classes at the Divinity School in 1834, and continues to the present day, where African American students make up 19 percent of our incoming class this fall.
"We continue to see the increase in applications and acceptances for underrepresented minorities in the past five years," Ramirez noted. "This uptick in applications and acceptances is a direct consequence of the Admissions office's strong dedication to attracting a more diverse student body. We have a strong commitment to providing financial aid and support for African American and other minority students."
Constance Royster, director of development, said, "This year the Department of External Relations, working with the Office of Admissions, devoted significant resources toward strengthening ties with the African American community. We are seeing the fruits of these efforts, and we look forward to continued progress in 2012-13."
YDS has brought this dedication on the road, sending staff to events around the country in an effort to actively recruit African American students. Through a close relationship with the Institute for Responsible Citizenship, a Washington, D.C. nonprofit dedicated to preparing high-achieving young African American men for success, YDS has been the graduate school of choice for many Institute alumni. Including YDS Alumni Board member Elijah Heyward '07 M.A.R., who hosted YDS's participation in the Institute's tenth anniversary celebration on June 3, where representatives of YDS meet with alumni, students, and friends of Yale Divinity School, including several prospective students considering the next step in their careers.
Most recently, on June 29 at the African Methodist Episcopal Church's 49th Quadrennial Session, YDS honored Bishop Frederick Talbot '57 M.Div. during the Ecumenical Worship Service.
The special presentation of a citation (see complete citation at right) signed by Dean Harold Attridge was introduced by Craig Robinson '11 M.Div., as well as Willie Barnes '12 M.Div., Shakira Sanchez-Collins '11 M.Div., Leonard Curry '13 M.Div., along with John Lindner, associate dean for external relations. Talbot responded briefly, speaking of the YDS legacy of preparing a number of key leaders in the AME Church and how he has used his education to impact the world for over 50 years. Several other YDS alums were in attendance, including AME Bishop Jeffrey Leath '76 B.A., '79 M.Div.
Conferences have proven to be a boon for YDS's African American recruitment efforts. In January YDS Admissions staff attended the 2012 National Festival of Young Preachers in Louisville, KY, spoke to many preachers considering theological education, and heard YDS students participating in the conference conduct themselves with distinction. The Festival is a major event for young preachers throughout America, and it proved to be a wonderful opportunity to meet a diverse crowd and reach out to African Americans destined for ministry and graduate school.
Lyvonne Briggs '12 M.Div., a National Festival of Young Preachers attendee, also participated in, and represented YDS at, the Hampton University Minister's Conference, a major gathering of African American ministers and preachers from across the country.
YDS also had a strong presence at the 2012 Global Conference of Chaplains in Higher Education, held June 25-29 at Yale and well-attended by over 400 chaplains from across the world. Ministers and chaplains are a critical component of YDS's recruiting strategy, for they are instrumental in steering students and congregants toward graduate schools and seminaries.
Additionally, YDS has produced a new four-color Admissions brochure targeting potential students, entitled "African American Life at YDS."
One of Yale Divinity School's greatest strengths has long been an environment rich in diversity and distinction. Our mission is to train the best and brightest students for leadership in the church and world, and our ecumenical philosophy guarantees that students come from a wide variety of backgrounds and faiths. African American students are integral to maintaining this diverse tradition, and YDS's recruiting initiatives ensure that African American students continue to have a vital presence on campus.