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Meet Religious Life Staff

The Rev. Chris Donald

University Chaplain and Director of Religious Life


The Rev. Christopher Ross Donald, EdD, an experienced college chaplain, was named University Chaplain and Director of the Office of Religious Life in June 2019.

Chris served as college chaplain and director of religious life at Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi, where he was instrumental in increasing interfaith activities and dialogue on campus.  During his tenure at Millsaps, Chris led several social justice initiatives, such as the Millsaps Challenge, which focused on racial reconciliation within the city of Jackson. He also sponsored Millsaps Pride, an LGBTQ+ student group, and advised the campus Black Student Union.  Throughout his career, Donald has proved to be a versatile leader, using his chaplaincy skills in a variety of arenas. He served as project director of the Initiative for Compassionate Care and Empathic Leadership at the University of Virginia School of Nursing; as pastor of several congregations of The United Methodist Church; and in other church and higher education leadership roles.

Chris received his bachelor’s degree in history and government from the College of William and Mary.  He graduated from Duke University with a Master of Divinity, and earned his Doctor of Education in Higher Education Leadership and Policy from Vanderbilt’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development.  He also completed Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), including training in multicultural and multifaith pastoral counseling and care, at the University of Virginia Medical Center.

Chris, his wife Rebecca, a physician at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and their young daughter Wesley Grace live in Nashville.  Chris is a avid fan of Star Trek, science fiction, and pop culture; enjoys cooking, hiking, and camping; loves to watch almost any sport but is generally a bad athlete; and is a passable singer and a poor dancer.


The Rev. Gretchen Person

Associate University Chaplain and Associate of Director Religious Life


Gretchen Person, Associate University Chaplain and Associate Director of Religious Life, previously served as Director of Spiritual Life at DePauw University. She graduated with a Bachelor of Music degree from St. Olaf College, studied music in Copenhagen, Denmark, and worked at the International Church of Copenhagen. She began her M.Div. studies at Harvard University, graduated from Luther Seminary, and received the Master of Sacred Theology degree from Yale University. She has also studied at the Goethe Institute in Murnau, Germany, and at Valparaiso University. She completed internships in both the San Diego and San Francisco areas of California, and has served as a pastor of congregations in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin and Tennessee. An ordained pastor in the Lutheran (ELCA) church, she has also served as a hospice and hospital chaplain and as Associate Campus Pastor of a private liberal arts college. Gretchen and her family enjoy sharing time with family and friends, travel, reading, and biking.


Ms. Lisa Tanksley

OUCRL Administrative Assistant


Lisa joined the Office of the University Chaplain and Religious Life team as Administrative Assistant in January 2019. She previously worked at Vanderbilt University Medical Center for the past seven years. Lisa has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She is a native Nashvillian, and she loves spending time with her husband and three children.