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Transylvania University names the Rev. Nancy Jo Kemper interim associate dean of interreligious life

Nancy Jo KemperLEXINGTON, Ky.—Michael Vetter, vice president and dean of students at Transylvania University, announced today that the Rev. Nancy Jo Kemper has been named interim associate dean of interreligious life, for a one-year appointment effective August 1.

Kemper, a 1964 graduate of Transylvania, is executive director and pastor of New Union Christian Church and served as the executive director of the Kentucky Council of Churches from 1991-2009. She holds a Master of Divinity degree from Yale University Divinity School and holds ministerial standing in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ.

“Nancy Jo Kemper will be a tremendous asset to Transylvania this coming year as she engages our community in a broad range of interreligious programs,” said Vetter. “Her extensive background in church and service work along with her enthusiasm and vigor are perfect for this new role.”

Kemper will advise faith-based student organizations, coordinate church related internships, provide social justice and interreligious programming, work with the interreligious life team to develop a new model for campus, monitor campus religious activities to assure they are consistent with the liberal arts mission of the college and provide spiritual counseling for students, faculty and staff.

“I’m looking forward to this opportunity to serve Transylvania on an interim basis,” said Kemper.  “I find being in an environment of young people who are making inquiries into many fields of knowledge and carving out their own unique identities to be especially exciting and stimulating. Plus, working to develop programs and patterns of religious inclusivity and hospitality, and helping students engage in actions for social justice are tasks that feel appropriate to my experiences as an ecumenist and my own passions for the common good.  It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

Over the last 20 years, Kemper has written and spoken to many different audiences about a vast array of issues, including civic literacy, economic justice, living wages, universal healthcare, environmental justice, equal opportunities for individuals with disabilities, peacemaking efforts and nuclear disarmament, gun control, the rights of immigrants and undocumented workers, the death penalty, racial profiling and the genocide in Darfur.

Prior to completion of her seminary training, Kemper worked for one year with the Urban League of Greater Little Rock, Ark., and spent a summer working with Vista Volunteers in Rockcastle County, Ky. Her world travels have taken her to Zimbabwe, Turkey and numerous countries in Europe.

Yale University Divinity School honored Kemper with the 2010 William Sloane Coffin, Jr., Peace and Justice Award, given in honor of William Sloane Coffin, former chaplain to Yale University and one of the 20th century’s most significant religious leaders.  Coffin award recipients are known for making a notable contribution to the work of peace and reconciliation. Kemper is the first female graduate of Yale Divinity School to receive this honor.

In 2009, she was recognized by the National Council of Churches of Christ in America for her contributions to ecumenical life. She has been honored by the Central Kentucky Civil Liberties Union (2006), and by the Interfaith Alliance of the Bluegrass (2005) with their Faith and Freedom award for “courageously promoting traditional American values, defending religious liberty, and reinvigorating informed civic participation.” In 2001, she received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Transylvania and was recognized by the Kentucky Conference for Community and Justice as the Humanitarian of the Year.