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October 30, 2012

Denise Yarbrough appointed director of religious and spiritual life

Denise Yarbrough
Denise Yarbrough

The University has appointed the Rev. C. Denise Yarbrough, a scholar, educator, and leader in the Episcopal Church and greater Rochester religious community, as the new director of religious and spiritual life. Yarbrough will support the University’s many faith communities housed at the Interfaith Chapel and will create programming that addresses the spiritual and religious needs of students, faculty, and staff. She assumed the position in August.

“Denise had strong support from many members of the Rochester religious community. She also has decades of experience in interfaith dialogue,” says Richard Feldman, dean of the College. “She will be a great supporter of both traditional and emerging religious groups on campus as well as a strong advocate for interfaith activities.” For the past eight years, Yarbrough has served as the canon for interfaith and ecumenical relations of the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester. In the role, she serves as chair or member of several committees focused on advancing multifaith relationships and dialogue. At the University, Yarbrough will support the work of the campus ministries and chaplains and create opportunities for interfaith work and conversations among them. Much of that activity will occur in the Interfaith Chapel, the physical center of campus religious and spiritual life.

“Rochester’s many religious and spiritual communities have been at interfaith dialogue for decades; it is way ahead of the curve,” says Yarbrough. “The Interfaith Chapel is a part of that legacy and has resources to offer that can make it a prominent place of engagement among religious traditions.”Yarbrough also brings more than a decade of teaching experience to the position, having taught courses related to interfaith issues, world religions, comparative theology, and sexuality and gender issues in religion. She served as a faculty associate and was the director of the Gene Bennett Program for Life Long Learning at the Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School. As director, she managed the continuing education offerings for clergy, lay leaders, and professionals. At Rochester, Yarbrough also will have a teaching position in the Department of Religion and Classics, an appointment that will help foster the connection between the chapel and undergraduate curriculum, Feldman says.

“Denise has considerable experience teaching at both the graduate and undergraduate levels,” says Edward Wierenga, chair of the department. “We are looking forward to her adding some important new courses on interfaith dialogue and other topics to our curriculum.” A native of Teaneck, N.J., Yarbrough received a bachelor’s degree from Barnard College and a law degree from the University of Michigan and earned master’s and doctoral degrees from Princeton Theological Seminary.

For more information about the Interfaith Chapel and its upcoming activities, visit  the website at or connect on Facebook at

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