Kathleen J. Brownback

Instructor in Religion
Vira I. Heinz Distinguished Professorship


Wellesley College

Harvard University

Boston University


Kathy has taught at the Academy since 1988, and has served as dean of students, clerk of the Trustees, chair of the Religion Department, chair of the Assembly Committee, and assistant school minister. She has taught nearly every course in the Religion Department, with a special interest in The Ethics of the Marketplace because of its practical value as an introduction to business and its moral conundrums. One of the most popular courses in the department, it combines her M.Div and MBA degrees in a constantly changing landscape of significant current dilemmas.

Perhaps paradoxically, Kathy also has a longstanding interest in the contemplative or mystical traditions, and in the comparative nature of the self both East and West. She has taught yoga at Exeter for years and has a longstanding meditation practice. This background ties in with today’s heightened interest in mind/body awareness and skills, which she includes in some of her classes. Her written meditations have been published in each of Exeter’s three compendia of meditations given in Phillips Church, and another will be in the upcoming fourth volume. One of her current projects is writing a book of responses to the questions that students have asked her over almost 30 years of teaching, partly in the well-known style of Exeter’s written meditations and partly as a series of letters to individual students.

Kathy has traveled to China, Thailand, Japan, Cambodia, India, Senegal, Israel and Palestine, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Egypt, Switzerland, France, Spain, Ireland, Great Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, and Canada. She lived in Hoyt and McConnell for many years with her husband, Harvey Shepard, physics faculty emeritus at the University of New Hampshire, and son Nate ’08, who now lives and works in New York. Since leaving McConnell, she has lived a short walk away in Exeter, and with her husband has entered the world of dog owners, with a chocolate-brown Havanese poodle pup named Ollie. They can often be found during the off-leash hours on nearby Rye beaches, on a trail in the Exeter woods, or in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.