January 17, 2014
Mary Hinton, vice president for academic affairs at
Mount Saint Mary College, recently blended song, soul and
scholarship in a presentation about “Gospel Music in Black
“You can trace the history of the church and the black community
though Gospel music,” Hinton explained.
In the historic black church, praying, preaching, and singing
are viewed as the three pillars of religious life, according to
Before African Americans were allowed open access to the pulpit
or were provided the space and opportunity for prayer, they created
and shared communal songs.
These spirituals focused on freedom, resistance, and a quest for
“During the Desmond presentation we learned that many people,
and traditions, utilize song and praise to celebrate their
history,” said Hinton of the event. “We shared our passion for
music and song, and some even contributed their beautiful voices to
Hinton, who began her career in higher education as a religious
studies faculty member at Misericordia University and has taught in
the graduate programs at Seattle University’s School of Theology
and Ministry, and in the University of Pennsylvania Executive
Doctorate in Higher Education program, detailed the evolution of
black sacred music beyond spirituals and through several
identifiable phases: including songs of sorrow, prayer and praise
songs, meter music, hymns of improvisation, and historic and modern
Each of the musical phases corresponds to various time periods
in the history of African Americans and reflects not only varying
musical styles and typographies, but also struggles in the African
Hinton’s studies have been published in a number of outlets,
including her book “The Commercial Church: Black Churches and the
New Religious Marketplace in America,” wherein the scholar’s
research notes departures from the sound Christian theology that
historically, in the areas of preaching, prayer and praxis, shaped
a communal identity of African Americans in black churches.
Additionally, Hinton’s expertise in the historic black church
was featured in the reference book “Religious Leadership.”
Hinton’s chapter, titled “Leading Historically Black Church
Congregations,” explores if there is a difference between religious
leadership in the black church and other churches, and if it is
important to maintain any distinctive elements of that leadership
within a contemporary context.
During her tenure at Mount Saint Mary College, Hinton has
overseen academic affairs, strategic planning, academic assessment,
institutional research, and retention efforts.
She has guided the development of the Center for Student
Success, focused on college-wide retention efforts including
academic coaching, advising, developmental courses, tutoring, and
the Higher Education Opportunity Program.
Hinton has also coordinated a series of “inclusive excellence”
talks at the college, which featured discussions of young adult
spirituality, diversity in the classroom, African American history,
Prior to serving at Mount Saint Mary College, Hinton held
several roles at Misericordia University, including associate VP of
academic affairs and chief planning and diversity officer, and
assistant professor in religious studies.
Hinton, from Milford, PA, earned her bachelor’s degree in
psychology from Williams College in Williamstown, MA, her master’s
in clinical child psychology from the University of Kansas,
Lawrence, KS, and a PhD in religion and religious education with
high honors from Fordham University.
In addition to having taught college level courses, maintaining
an active research agenda and publishing articles, she also has
experience in identifying and replicating successful practices in
K-12 public education.