THE EUNICE C. JACKSON & ELLA P. MITCHELL CHAIR
An endowment of $3 million is required to fund this chair. As of the Spring of 2015, the Union Community raised $450,000 in payments and pledges. Proving that each dollar does indeed count, the graduating class of this year raised $10,001 towards the Chair.
The Eunice C. Jackson & Ella P. Mitchell Chair is named for the first two African-American women to graduate from Union. Eunice C. Jackson received a Master of Arts degree in Christian Education in 1940. She was followed by the Rev. Dr. Ella P. Mitchell, a distinguished pioneer and mentor for women in ministry and theological education, who received her Master of Arts degree in Christian Education from Union in 1943.
The Chair will be held by a womanist scholar committed to the interdisciplinary exploration of the intersections of religion, race, gender, and women’s studies. The holder should have expertise in a variety of traditional theological disciplines—ethics, theology, biblical studies —as well as the broader humanities and social sciences, with an emphasis on religious thought and practice.
Today, Union is the Seminary which attracts women of color preparing to minister to church, academy and society. Tomorrow, with your support, the distinct prophetic voices of Womanist scholars will continue to be raised at Union—and will receive permanent, senior representation on our world-renowned Faculty.
A LETTER FROM THE STUDENT SENATE CO-CHAIRS
Dear Union Students,
As student senate co–chairs, we wanted to update you on a conversation that we had with President Jones ,Vice President Davie and Vice President of Finance and Operations Richard Madonna yesterday morning about the Jackson-Mitchell Womanist Chair. In this message, we will refer to this Chair as the “Jackson-Mitchell Womanist Chair” as per the email sent to students from President Jones on May 25.
Four things were messaged to us yesterday morning. This is what we heard:1. $450,000 was raised in payments and pledges thus far. We also know that students have raised $10,001 dollars this year for the chair, as reported at Commencement.2. The Jackson-Mitchell Womanist Chair will be an honor bestowed upon a professor who has made significant contributions to the field of Womanist theology.3. It was conveyed that future new hires are not “new positions,” but the replacement of retirements. In the correspondence from President Jones dated May 15, the phrase “new faculty lines” was used. It was said that the Jackson-Mitchell Womanist Chair will support a “member of the faculty.” This faculty person will be a Womanist, and the Chair does not provide restrictions for the departmental site of her scholarship. This particular professor may be a professor of Systematic Theology, Ethics, Church History, Preaching and Worship or others. It is expected, supremely over anything else, that this professor is a Womanist whose work uses Womanism as a scholarly lens.4. At this time, the Jackson-Mitchell Womanist Chair is not completely funded. For now, the money remains in an account, untouched, until Union Theological Seminary selects and appoints a candidate for the Jackson-Mitchell Womanist Chair. This is a highly formal process, and we are not yet in that stage as an institution. We learned that auditors review the accounts to ensure that money allocated to specific accounts is not used for anything else.
On Monday June 1, President Jones is opening up a space for questions around this Chair. We invite all who are able to join us in person, to send in questions via email, and to view a livestream link that will shortly circulate.
It is important that we do not forget the very women for whom this Chair was named. As such, the Student Senate Co-chairs named a desire to meet with the families of Eunice P. Jackson and Ella Mitchell. We intend to do so not just for the sake of clarity on what they understand this Chair to be, but to develop meaningful relationships with our sisters and brothers. We owe it to these women, and countless others who’ve come before us, to hold their work and their lives as our ultimate concern.
We also commit to continuing conversations with alum, former faculty and staff of this institution so that we may have a broader sense of memories and histories.
We want to thank the students who have so thoughtfully and passionately mobilized in this discussion. We are truly grateful to serve a student body that takes the spirit of Womanist Theology and the work of Womanist Scholars seriously.
Gregory Simpson and Candace Simpson