Yale Divinity School professor Emilie Townes has been elected vice president of the American Academy of Religion, the world’s largest association of religion scholars, AAR officials announced last Friday.

“She is widely respected in her field,” Divinity School Dean Harold Attridge said. “We are absolutely delighted to have her as a new member of the faculty team, and just as thrilled the AAR has recognized her in this way.”

Townes, a professor of African-American religion and theology and a member of the Women Faculty Forum, specializes in Christian ethics. She is involved in the field of “womanist theology,” which examines the experience of African-American women practicing Christianity.

“She works on retrieving the voice of African-American women and their experience,” Attridge said.

As vice president, Townes will rise to the post of AAR president in 2008. She would then become the first black woman to serve as president of the Academy.