Skip to Content

Skip to Content

Home > Alumni > Distinguished Alumni/ae Award

Distinguished Alumni/ae Award

2015 Award

On Friday, October 30, 2015, alumni/ ae, friends, and supporters of Vanderbilt Divinity School and the Graduate Department of Religion are invited to join Dean Emilie M. Townes for a celebration dinner honoring the 2015 Distinguished Alumni/ ae award recipients.  We hope you will join us as we recognize the outstanding contributions in ministry and scholarship of our Divinity School and Graduate Department of Religion alumni/ ae.


The deadline to register is Monday, October 19, 2015. Seating is limited, and reservations will be accepted on a first come, first served basis. For questions, call (615) 343-7819 or email the Divinity alumni/ae office. 

2015 Distinguished Alumni/ae Award Honorees

Dr. James L. Crenshaw, Ph.D. '64

2015 Graduate Department of Religion Distinguished Alumni/ae Award Recipient

James L. CrenshawDr. James L. Crenshaw, Ph.D.’64, was born in Sunset, South Carolina. He majored in English at Furman University, graduating in 1956 with a bachelor of arts. Four years later, he received a bachelor of divinity from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Crenshaw earned his doctorate in religion in 1964 and taught at Atlantic Christian College and Mercer University before returning to Vanderbilt in 1970. He taught on campus for 17 years before going to Duke University, where he became the Robert L. Flowers Distinguished Professor of Old Testament.   

Crenshaw has been awarded fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, Society of Religion in Higher Education and American Council of Learned Societies, among others. He was named a Pew Evangelical Scholar in 1996.

After becoming an emeritus professor, Crenshaw moved back to Nashville, where he has taught in the Osher Institute for Lifelong Learning at Vanderbilt.


 The Reverend Kenneth S. Robinson, M.D., M.Div. '86

2015 Divinity School Distinguished Alumni/ae Award Recipient

Kenneth S. Robinson

The Reverend Kenneth S. Robinson, M.D., M.Div.‘86, is a native of Nashville, TN. He holds a bachelor of arts, cum laude, from Harvard University; a doctor of medicine degree from Harvard Medical School; and a Master of Divinity from Vanderbilt Divinity School. 

Dr. Robinson has served as pastor and chief executive of St. Andrew AME Church in Memphis, Tennessee, since 1991. He practiced and taught internal medicine at Vanderbilt for 10 years and served for 12 years as an assistant dean at the University of Tennessee College of Medicine. He founded The Works, a nonprofit organization that partners with United Way to impact lives in the Memphis area.

A lifelong advocate for improving the health of the public, Dr. Robinson served as Tennessee's first African-American Commissioner of Health under Governor Phil Bredesen. Last February he became president and CEO of the United Way of the Mid-South.


About the Distinguished Alumni/ae Award

Vanderbilt Divinity School and the Graduate Department of Religion recognize distinguished alumni/ae whose accomplishments and contributions have had a broad impact and positive effect in various forms of ministry and scholarship.  

  • The Divinity School award is given to someone who has demonstrated excellence and distinction in justice making through their work in congregational ministry, religious institutions, ecumenical organizations, community –based organizations, government, or other social institutions.
  • The Graduate Department of Religion award is given to someone whose scholarship, teaching, or research has advanced the understanding of religion and its formative impact in the world.

 View previous recipients of the Distinguished Alumni/ae Award.