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From Dean Gail R. O’Day

Gail R. O'Day

As you have read about Wake Forest University and its School of Divinity, you may have noticed several common themes emerging — teacher-student engagement, small classes, faculty who are teacher-scholars, education of the whole person, and Pro Humanitate, For Humanity, the Wake Forest motto. These Wake Forest educational and institutional values create an environment that is ideal for theological education, because theological education is at its best when it is education of the whole person and when students are guided in their professional development by faculty inside and outside the classroom. Pro Humanitate¬†captures the heart of theological education, because the School of Divinity’s goal is to educate students who will be leaders for justice, reconciliation, and compassion in church and community, who will make a difference for humanity, for the world.

The School of Divinity, like all of Wake Forest University, combines the academic resources of a national university with the teaching focus of a small college to create a unique learning environment. Some classes will draw you into the classics of Christian traditions; some will take you out into the community to experience social ministry in action; some classes will invite you to think about how to define who our neighbor is in a multi-faith world. In January 2012, for example, School of Divinity students traveled to Israel for an interfaith pilgrimage (with Jewish and Muslim Wake Forest college students), to Nicaragua for a multi-professional school course with students from the Schools of Law and Medicine, and to Appalachia to study the rich religious traditions and ministry practices in that region.

Professional formation outside the classroom, in placement sites of ministry and service, is also a key part of theological education. As a moderate sized city, Winston-Salem has all the diversity of placement and internship opportunities that a large city can provide, but on a human, more approachable scale. Urban, rural, and suburban ministries, social service agencies, hospitals, prisons, schools, community gardens, and food banks — all within a 20 minute drive from campus. Neighboring Greensboro also adds a rich urban area to the mix. It is hard to imagine a form of ministry and religious leadership that you could not explore here.

I hope that you will imagine and discern the ways in which the School of Divinity might be the right educational next step for you as you think about your vocational hopes and professional goals.

Gail R. O’Day
Dean and Professor of New Testament and Preaching 

Articles and Publications
“Religious Leadership in a Fast-changing World” – Wake Forest Magazine, Spring 2011
2010-2011 Website Welcome Letter
Lectures & Talks
Remarks at the 2014 Diploma Ceremony, May 19, 2014.

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“For the Birds,” Remarks at the 2013 Diploma Ceremony, May 20, 2013.

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“The Company We Keep,” Remarks at the 2012 Diploma Ceremony, May, 21, 2012.

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Sermon from the Fifth Sunday in Lent, delivered March 25, 2012 at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Winston-Salem.

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Sermon, “The Look of Love,” delivered March 18, 2012 at Centenary United Methodist Church in Winston-Salem.

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2010 Opening Convocation Address: “I Will Not Let You Go, Unless You Bless Me”

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Updates from the Dean

Dean O’Day often writes letters to update the School of Divinity Board of Visitors and friends on recent happenings and developments at the school. Review current and past editions here.

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