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The Reverend Dr. William and Dr. Pearleen Oliver Chair of Community Leadership and Social Justice Established

in Advancement, Change with Purpose, College News

ADC announces new Academic Chair to advocate Social Justice and Reconciliation in Church and Community  

The establishment of The Reverend Dr. William and Dr. Pearleen Oliver Chair of Community Leadership and Social Justice was officially announced by Acadia Divinity College President Dr. Anna Robbins on August 20, 2022, during the 169th Annual Sessions of the African United Baptist Association of Nova Scotia (AUBA).  

In her remarks to the delegates gathered at Saint Thomas Baptist Church in North Preston, Nova Scotia, Dr. Robbins declared, “The creation of this Academic Chair embodies our commitment to the teaching, learning, and practice of racial justice. Rev. Dr. William and Dr. Pearleen Oliver, two Christian activists and visionary community leaders, exemplify the actions and attitudes that Acadia Divinity College (ADC) seeks to instill in future Christian leaders. The Olivers championed education as the pathway to an enlightened future.”

“Social justice is an intrinsic part of the Bible and of Christian witness. Their faith called Bill and Pearleen to be compassionate and care for those who were disenfranchised, oppressed, or in need of help. Their social justice agenda flowed from the pulpit and out to people in their communities. There’s a very strong place for the Christian church to make a difference.” 

~ The Honourable Dr. Donald H. Oliver, CM, ONS, QC 

The vision for an academic chair in community leadership and social justice took shape under a leadership team comprised of African Nova Scotians from across the province.   

Dr. Barbara-Ann Hamilton-Hinch, Assistant Vice-Provost Equity and Inclusion at Dalhousie University, shared her story: “The work of the Olivers in Beechville provided co-op housing for so many people, including my family. Their mentorship and personal encouragement to further my education is part of the reason I continue to advocate for students of African descent to pursue post-secondary education.” 

“Having an endowed academic chair is important to ensure the work that needs to be done continues over the long term,” said Dr. Leslie Oliver, son of William and Pearleen Oliver, and Acadia University Professor Emeritus.  “It provides the funding for the faculty position indefinitely, ensuring the principles of equality and justice are embedded in the work of our seminary.” 

Former member of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly the Hon. Dr. Wayne Adams agrees. “This distinguished Chair will continue on with the great work of social justice and community leadership as modeled by William and Pearleen Oliver. By participating in the endowment of this new Chair, you will contribute, by extension, to a major transformation of our churches and society.” 

Rev. John Campbell, ADC Director of Advancement, announced the launch of the fundraising campaign to support the Oliver Chair. “The goal has been set to raise $3 million to fully endow this academic chair. Advancing social justice will impact the entire community, so we’re asking the entire community to join in the Olivers’ vision of a future free of racism and social injustice.”  

These same values are reflected in the College’s strategic vision that includes extending our embrace to historically racialized communities. Dr. Robbins elaborates, “We are committed to equipping our students and encouraging our alumni to become advocates for justice and reconciliation in their local contexts.” 

Through the Oliver Chair, ADC affirms that education makes a difference. The Chair will honour the legacy of William and Pearleen Oliver, ensure representation of the AUBA on the ADC faculty, and teach a new generation of church leaders to engage in community transformation.    

Rev. Dr. Lennett Anderson, Dr. Leslie Oliver, Rev. Elias Mutale, Rev.
Dr. Anna Robbins, Dr. Barbara-Ann Hamilton-Hinch, and Rev. John Campbell
at the announcement of the Oliver Chair on August 20, 2022.

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