Jewelnel Davis , the University chaplain and associate provost, was awarded an honorary doctorate in humane letters from Carleton College on June 11.
Before coming to Columbia, Davis served as college chaplain at Carleton College and associate university chaplain at Colgate University. In awarding her the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, Carelton recognized Chaplain Davis for serving the college with "ethical distinction, intellectual integrity and uncommon verve," according to her citation.
Davis is credited at Carleton with revitalizing the office of the chaplain. In her role as assistant to the president for human relations, she managed and coordinated educational and training programs on sexual harassment. Davis also was involved in developing campus-wide policies on discrimination and academic freedom.
Since 1996, in directing the activities of the Earl Hall Center, Chaplain Davis has devoted herself to strengthening the religious and common life of Columbia. Her work focuses on issues of spirituality, community service, social justice, civic responsibility, personal values, and individual and community ethics. The Office of the University Chaplain sponsors a range of programs each semester that encourage communication and understanding between diverse student groups and support the learning experience of students and others in the University community. Her office provides oversight and support to more than 80 religious, spiritual, political and social justice student organizations within the Student Governing Board, as well as to the 17 recognized campus ministries within the United Campus Ministries, an umbrella organization comprised of clergy and lay people. The Office of the University Chaplain also oversees Community Impact, a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving disadvantaged people in the Harlem, Washington Heights and Morningside Heights communities.
Additionally, the Chaplain's office works closely with the Columbia/Barnard Hillel and the staff of the Robert K. Kraft Family Center for Jewish Student Life, which has supported student-initiated programs and facilitated greater understanding among community members of diverse backgrounds and perspectives. The Office of the University Chaplain will administer the new Kraft Family Fund for Intercultural and Interfaith Awareness. "This fund will make it possible to support new initiatives by recognized student groups," says Davis. "Students will be able to learn more about each other's cultural and faith traditions."
Davis was born in Brooklyn and grew up in Jamaica, Queens, and Freeport, Long Island. A graduate of Brown University, she received an A.B. in Religious Studies in 1979 with the help of her mentor, Rabbi and Professor Jacob Neusner. In 1983, she completed a joint degree program and was awarded a M.Div. from Yale University and an M.S.W. from the University of Connecticut School of Social Work.