New Dean for Rockefeller Chapel named

The Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Davenport, Senior Associate Dean of Religious Life at the University of Southern California, has been named Dean of the University of Chicago's Rockefeller Memorial Chapel. She will begin her duties on July 1.

"Elizabeth has a broad range of exceptional skills," said Kim Goff-Crews, Vice President and Dean of Students in the University. "She understands the role of spirituality at universities today and how to engage the campus community."

Davenport, who was selected after a seven-month search, met with more than 70 students, staff, faculty and members of the Rockefeller Chapel congregation during the interview process, Goff-Crews said. “It was a group that was representative of the community. And we came away thinking that she would be a great choice to lead Rockefeller Chapel. We’re really thrilled to have her.”

As Dean of Rockefeller Chapel, Davenport will provide vision and lead students and the University community in their quest for religious and spiritual meaning, including promoting a lively and robust interfaith dialogue and furthering the understanding of religious diversity on campus.

Davenport will supervise weekly religious services at Rockefeller Chapel, develop programming, coordinate the many independent campus ministries that serve students in particular faith communities, provide pastoral care, oversee the musical programs, attract speakers and special events to the Chapel, and take on a role in the University community.

“I'm looking forward to finding new ways of integrating students’ questions about meaning and spirituality into their overall experience of life at the University of Chicago,” said Davenport. “It’s an exciting moment to be grounding this kind of work in the great intellectual culture of the University. I’m looking forward to building upon the work that has already been done to make Rockefeller Chapel a place of spiritual welcome for students and community members of all kinds of religious traditions.”

Davenport, who was chosen by a search committee chaired by Kathryn Tanner, the Dorothy Grant Maclear Professor in the Divinity School, comes to Chicago after 17 years at USC, where she has served as Episcopal chaplain and Assistant Dean of Student Affairs before moving to her current role. Davenport has an interest in medical ethics and is on the faculty at the USC Keck School of Medicine, where she teaches the practice of medicine with a focus on ethics and cultural competence.  In addition, Davenport serves as associate priest at St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral in Los Angeles.

Originally from England, Davenport has a B.A. and M.A. in Theology from Oxford University, a Th.M. in Intercultural Studies from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, and a Ph.D. in Religion and Social Ethics from USC.

Completed in 1928, Rockefeller Memorial Chapel serves the University and its surrounding community through educational, social and interfaith activities. In addition to serving as the spiritual and ceremonial center of the University, the Chapel sustains a long, distinguished tradition in cultural programming, through the performance of organ, carillon, orchestral and sacred choral repertoires.

In 2006, the long-awaited Interreligious Center was completed and transformed the basement of Rockefeller Chapel into a place of worship, prayer and meditation for the University’s diverse religious and spiritual community.

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Photo by Anne Benvenuti

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