Hampton University


Haggins Named First Female Chaplain

Deborah Haggins

So long to the stained glass ceiling.  For the first time in the 140-year history of Hampton University, the Rev. Debra L. Haggins has been named our “Home By the Sea’s” first female chaplain.  As chaplain, she will serve as pastor of the HU Memorial Church and director of the Religious Studies Program and will handle all religious affairs for the university. 

“This appointment makes a strong statement to the world that we are all called and can be chosen for any particular task, so we need to be prepared to be sent wherever we are needed,” said Haggins.

Haggins aims to boost interfaith ministry and student involvement on campus, provide pastoral care and counseling, and expand the Memorial Church into “a viable entity on campus” by “bringing it into the 21st Century.”   With a noticeable increase in attendance, students appear to really be enjoying her Sunday services too.

Haggins replaces Dr. Timothy T. Boddie, who now serves as the senior pastor of Friendship Baptist Church in Atlanta, Ga.  “I have only the highest confidence in Rev. Haggins to move the chaplaincy and all religious affairs of Hampton University to the next level,” said Boddie.

While Haggins’ appointment will hold its place in HU’s history, HU President Dr. William R. Harvey selected her because he felt she was the most qualified for the position.  

“The addition of Rev. Haggins to our Hampton family is no doubt a historic measure in our institution’s rich history.  Yet my decision to select her was based on her values and skills as a pastor and spiritual leader which she will bring to the HU community,” said Harvey.  “She exemplifies the ideals that Hampton University was built upon and I have only the utmost confidence that she will serve as a pillar of faith and leadership to our university.”

Haggins, who stated that she felt humbled and honored to hold this position, will also serve as the first female executive secretary of the Annual HU Ministers’ Conference and Annual Choir Directors’ and Organists’ Guild Workshop.  In its 95th year, the conference is the largest gathering of interdenominational African-American clergy in the world.

Prior to her arrival at HU, Haggins served as the interim pastor of the historic Queen Street Baptist Church in Norfolk, Va.   From 2002-2006, she served as associate minister and director of the women’s ministry at Mount Gilead Missionary Baptist Church in Norfolk.  Prior to that, she served as assistant to the chaplain and faculty advisor to the Student Christian Association at HU. 

-Alison L. Phillips