Derek Hicks, Associate Professor of Religion and Culture, will serve as the School of Divinity Hooding and Commencement speaker. The ceremony will be held on Saturday, May 18, at 7 p.m., in Wait Chapel. 

Hicks is a prominent scholar whose research and teaching span a wide array of topics, including African American religion, religion in North America, race, the body, religion and foodways, theory and method in the study of religion, and cultural studies. He serves as co-chair of Wake Forest University’s Slavery, Race, and Memory Project, an initiative seeking to account for the institution’s role with slavery. He is the founding director of the Center for Research, Engagement, and Collaboration in African American Life and a member of the American Academy of Religion’s Program Committee. 

Hicks is the author of Reclaiming Spirit in the Black Faith Tradition, a book that uncovers the function of religion for those degraded on the basis of race. He is currently completing a second book entitled Feeding Flesh and Spirit: Religion, Food, and the Saga of Race in Black America. In addition, he served as assistant editor of the volume entitled African American Religious Cultures and co-authored the article “How Much a Dollar Cost?”: Political Ideology, Religion, and Poverty Policy Through the Lens of Kendrick Lamar’s Music.

The Hooding Ceremony is a cherished tradition where graduates receive their masters’ hoods, symbolizing the completion of requirements for the Master of Divinity degree, and receive their diplomas. It’s not only a recognition of individual academic achievement but also a joyous celebration of community. 

In addition to the School of Divinity Hooding/Commencement Ceremony, the university will host the annual Baccalaureate Ceremony on Sunday, May 19, at 11 a.m., in Wait Chapel and the University Commencement Ceremony on Monday, May 20, at 9 a.m., on Hearn Plaza.  

Livestream options for all events will be available for those unable to attend in person. For streaming links and a complete listing of Commencement Weekend activities, please visit

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