Benny VanDerburgh

  • Assistant Director of Religious and Spiritual Life


Benny holds a Master of Divinity from the University of Chicago Divinity School, where he received awards for his public speaking and leadership. While there, Benny researched how mutual aid and ideologically ‘left’ and social movement projects contribute to the idea of religion. His thesis explored the Young Lords Organization of Chicago’s occupation and transformation of a church in the mid-20th century. He also studies religious and spiritual care during the early waves of the HIV/AIDS crisis.

Prior to working at Oberlin, Benny served on the clergy team of a Protestant Christian church; served as a chaplain intern at Northwestern Memorial Hospital; and supported graduate student life in a multireligious and ecumenical seminary context, all in Chicago. He has experience caring especially for the religious and spiritual lives of those who claim and are claimed by multiple religious archives. Benny also holds an M.A. from the University of Chicago and a B.A. from Bates College, both in English.

He serves, in part, as a liaison between Oberlin students and their (desired or established) communities of practice, and calls a multireligious family home. As a queer and transgender faith leader, Benny is happy to be a resource for students, faculty and staff around questions of religious and spiritual life that attend to the immutable dignity and worth of all queer and trans people.