Established in 2004 to honor Dr. Martin E. Marty, former Chair of the St. Olaf College Board of Regents and the Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus at the University of Chicago, this chair symbolizes what it means to live and work at the intersection of faith and reason. It provides opportunities both to address significant religious issues within the Church and the academy at large and to respond in a thoughtful and faithful way to wider cultural issues.
The Martin E. Marty Chair in Religion and the Academy fosters ongoing dialogue that explores the intersection between significant religious and cultural issues and St. Olaf’s role as a liberal arts college of the church.
Deanna Thompson ’89 is the Martin E. Marty Chair in Religion and the Academy. Thompson is also the inaugural director of the Lutheran Center for Faith, Values, and Community.
A respected scholar in the study of Martin Luther and feminist theology, Thompson has more than two decades of teaching, leadership, and administrative experience. She is an internationally known scholar and speaker, and an author of five books, who has synthesized Lutheran and feminist theologies and brought them to bear on a wide array of contemporary concerns, from racial justice to social media to living with cancer.
Following her graduate work at Yale University Divinity School and Vanderbilt University, Thompson served 23 years as a faculty member of Hamline University where she chaired the Religion department and taught courses in religion, African American studies, women’s studies, and social justice.
Thompson has served in many leadership positions in the American Academy of Religion, including as a member of the Board of Directors and as Director of the Upper Midwest Region. In recent years, her work has fostered significant inter-religious engagement both within and beyond the classroom, largely in partnership with Interfaith Action of St. Paul.