A message from David N. Hempton, Dean of Harvard Divinity School

I write with great pleasure to announce that Melissa Wood Bartholomew, MDiv ’15, will join HDS as the School’s new Associate Dean of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DIB) on July 6, 2020.

Melissa’s connections to HDS—and to the promotion of diversity and inclusion—run deep. During her last year in the School’s master of divinity program, she co-founded the Racial Justice and Healing Initiative, a group of HDS students committed to, “racial justice and healing by means of cross-disciplinary dialogue, scholarship, and training designed to address personal and systemic racism through strategies rooted in love.” Melissa continued this work from 2018-2020 as the School’s racial justice fellow and as an instructor in ministry.

Melissa Wood Bartholomew will join HDS July 6 as the new Associate Dean of Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging. (Courtesy Photo)

Before she came to HDS, Melissa was an attorney and a mediator with nearly a decade’s experience in public interest law in the state of Washington. During that time she served as an assistant attorney general for the state, as a legal aid attorney with the Northwest Justice Project, and as the dependency mediator for King County Superior Court. In addition to her degree from HDS, she holds a BA and JD from Howard University, and an MSW from Boston College where she is a PhD candidate. Her research interests include the impact of racism, incarceration, and other systems of oppression on the mental health of Black people and the role of spirituality in their resilience. Melissa also serves as part-time faculty at Boston College where she teaches a course in diversity in the School of Social Work and a course in restorative justice in the School of Law.

As a Christ-centered minister and racial justice and healing practitioner, Melissa facilitates workshops utilizing her framework, Healers of the Wound: Healing Racism from the Inside Out, a multidisciplinary and multifaith approach to equipping people for the work of eradicating racism, reconnecting across cultures, and rewriting the American story. As Associate Dean of DIB, she will help facilitate the creation of a more inclusive classroom experience for students, identify policies and practices that lead to creating a more supportive community, and develop programs that engender a diverse student body, faculty and staff. She will also teach courses related to racial justice and healing and will develop relevant capacity-building workshops and sessions for the entire HDS community. Melissa will work out of the Office of the Dean.

Melissa is driven by a passion for justice, the Beloved Community, and a deep commitment to racial healing. Her work is essential if HDS is to live up to its mission of service and scholarship that makes a world of difference. As she said in her 2015 Commencement address to her fellow HDS graduates, “We cannot flourish in our humanity unless we acknowledge the full humanity of others. This is the way of being that we embody here, and one that we must carry out into the world, in whatever place we inhabit, and in whatever work we do.”

The recent shocking and tragic events underscore the profound need for racial justice and healing at HDS, the wider Harvard community, and the country. Collectively, we have an enormous amount of work to do. We look forward to supporting and working alongside Melissa in this role. Please join me in welcoming Melissa to her new position!

David N. Hempton

Dean of the Faculty of Divinity
Alonzo L. McDonald Family Professor of Evangelical Theological Studies
John Lord O’Brian Professor of Divinity