New chaplain looks forward to ‘exposing students’ minds to something greater’

Anthony Jackson|Courtbouillon

NEW ORLEANS (February 14, 2020) – Dillard’s new chaplain, the Rev. Herbert Alexander Brisbon III, said he is eager to “expose students’ minds to something greater.”

Brisbon said he wants to challenge and welcome students of all faiths to participate in religious life here at Dillard and see another side of ministry.

“As a chaplain, I am called to shepherd everybody and ensure that every faith has a way to display and live out their personal convictions,” he said. “As long as there is no harm caused to students or anyone else, we are okay, so I invite all students to find their purpose within the religious life department.”

Brisbon was hired after a six-month search to succeed the Rev. Earnest Salsberry, a DU alumnus. Brisbon previously served as the United Methodist chaplain and executive director of the Wesley Foundation at Howard University and served as a pastor in the area for more than 19 years.

He said one of his goals as chaplain is to “foster a community that gives people the opportunity to question and wrestle with their faith, yet find the confidence and assurance of knowing there is someone bigger than themselves.”

Brisbon began working with ministries during his college years at Spartanburg Methodist College, where he earned an associate degree in science, and Clark Atlanta University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in religion, philosophy and social work. The Bishopville, S.C., native earned his master’s degree in theological studies from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.

The chaplain said a life-altering encounter with James Thomas, the last living black bishop from the central jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church, took Brisbon’s involvement with campus ministry to a new level. Realizing his passion for ministry, Brisbon became a missionary and studied abroad in England, South Africa, China, Cambodia and Mongolia.

After many years of studying abroad and partaking in mission trips, Brisbon returned to the United States in August 2001, living in New York at the time. A month later, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks occurred, which led him to travel back to Atlanta to begin seminary school in Washington D.C., where he would remain until getting the opportunity to serve at Dillard University.

Initially, Brisbon had applied to be DU chaplain four years ago. Then last year, he said a colleague reached out and asked him to apply for the latest opening.

Three weeks into his appointment here, Brisbon said he has enjoyed interacting with students.

“The campus is such a welcoming environment and community, and it feels like home,” he said. “The students are a breath of fresh air for me. I love the inquisitiveness that many of them exude and the fact that they are willing to ask the hard questions they are faced with.”

Brisbon said he lives by two mottos. The first, from Philippians 4:13, is “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” The other is, “Empowered to serve God's kingdom by any means necessary, that glorifies God without compromise.”