Alumni News 2014-2015

The Rev. Dr. Ellen K. Wondra (PhD, 1991) has been elected to the World Council of Churches Commission. Dr. Wondra is research professor of theology and ethics at the Bexley Seabury Theological Seminary Federation. She has been elected to the World Council of Churches Commission on Faith and Order for a term that will last until 2022. The Standing Commission on Faith and Order, described by the World Council of Churches as “a community of ecumenical leaders and theologians who for more than a century have laboured for the visible unity of Christ’s Church through concentrated theological dialogue,” comprises nearly 50 theologians and consultants and meets for one week every two years.  Previously Wondra served on the Standing Commission on Ecumenical Relations of the Episcopal Church from 2001-2006 and on the Anglican-Roman CatholicConsultation in the U.S.A.  (ARCUSA) from 1992 - 2010. She became professor at Bexley Hall Episcopal Seminary in 1989 and professor of theology and ethics at Seabury-Western Theological Seminary in 2004. From 2008-2014, she served as Seabury’s academic dean, and from 2006 through December 2013, she served as editor of the Anglican Theological Review.

Richard Rice (MA 1972, PhD 1974) is Professor of Religion at the School of Religion, Loma Linda University (California). His latest book, Suffering and the Search for Meaning: Contemporary Responses to the Problem of Pain  was published by IVP Academic in July of 2014.






The Rev. Robert M. Franklin Jr. has been installed as the James T. and Berta R. Laney Chair in Moral Leadership within the Candler School of Theology at Emory University.

As the inaugural holder of this endowed professorship, Franklin is shaping a program in moral leadership. He was installed at the school's Aug. 28 Fall Convocation.

Dr. Franklin, PhD 1985, was the Divinity  School's Alumnus of the Year in 2010.






Fr. Dennis Tamburello (PhD1990), Professor of Religious Studies at Siena College (Loudenville, New York), has received two recent awards for his work.

Professor Tamburello has been awarded the Matthew T. Conlin, O.F.M., Distinguished Service Award for the academic year 2013-2014 as well as the Raymond C. Kennedy Excellence in Scholarship Award, both from Siena College.

The former award was created in honor of Father Matthew T. Conlin, O.F.M., who served as a faculty member in the English Department and as the sixth President of Siena College.  The award is given annually to a faculty member who has demonstrated excellence in service, in recognition of the contribution that service activities provide toward the attainment of institutional excellence.

During his over thirty years at Siena College, Dr. Tamburello has served the college in a variety of capacities, including twice holding the Chair in the Religious Studies Department, chaperoning numerous student service trips all around the world, and serving as a Friar in Residence since 1979. In addition he serves the community as a prison chaplain for the New York State Dept. of Corrections and Community Supervision.

He is also recognized for his teaching and scholarship.  Fr. Tamburello’s areas of scholarly research are the Reformation (especially John Calvin), mysticism, and interreligious dialogue. He is the author of Union with Christ: John Calvin and the Mysticism of St. Bernard (Westminster John Knox Press, 1994), Ordinary Mysticism (Paulist Press, 1996) and Bernard of Clairvaux: Essential Writings (Crossroad Publishing, 2000), as well as numerous chapters, articles, and book reviews.  In honor of his significant contributions to his discipline, he was honored this year with Siena’s Raymond C. Kennedy Excellence in Scholarship Award.

Jesse Mann (PhD 1993) is the newly installed Theological Librarian at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey.


Ted Peters (PhD 1973) is Professor Emeritus of Theology and Ethics at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary. He has recently published two books: UFOs: God's Chariots? Spirituality, Ancient Aliens, and Religious Yearnings in the Age of Extraterrestrials (New Page Books), and For God and Country, an espionage thriller that mentions The University of Chicago.





Frank Burch Brown (MA 1972, PhD 1979 in Religion and Literature) has been invited to deliver the 2016 James W. Richard Lectures at the University of Virginia.

The Richard Lectures focus on topics in history and/or religion, and were initiated in 1923. The series has featured such eminent theologians and philosophers as Paul Tillich, Jaroslav Pelikan, Jacob Neusner, Paul Ricoeur, and Langdon Gilkey, and, more recently, Quentin Skinner, Martin Jay, Jean-Luc Marion, and Jean-Yves Lacoste. Three lectures are delivered on three consecutive days; the lectures are collected and published by the University of Virginia Press.

Professor Brown is the Dean of Disciples Seminary Foundation in Northern California and the CARE/GTU Visiting Professor of Art and Religion in the Center for Arts, Religion, and Education at the Graduate Theological Union.



Joel Kaminsky (MA 1984, PhD 1993) of the Smith College Religion Department was appointed as the Morningstar Family Professor in Jewish Studies.

Lucy Bregman (MA 1970, PhD 1973) is Professor of Religion at Temple University. She is the author of several books, including Preaching Death: The Transformation of Christian Funeral Sermons (Baylor University Press, 2011). She recently published a new book with Baylor University Press titled The Ecology of Spirituality: Meanings, Virtues, and Practices in a Post-Religious Age




John Hall Fish (MA 1965, PhD 1971) died on Tuesday, June 10, 2014, at the age of 81.

Driven by a desire for social justice and racial reconciliation, John Hall Fish spent much of his career connecting college students and recent graduates with urban nonprofit organizations. In 1969, Mr. Fish co-founded the Associated Colleges of the Midwest's Urban Studies program, which brought undergraduate students from small Midwestern colleges to Chicago for a semester. The program offered what is known as "experiential education" that included hands-on work at a range of nonprofit groups.

Twenty years later, Mr. Fish became the founding director and national coordinator of the Princeton Project 55's public interest program. Now known as Princeton AlumniCorps, the program has a similar goal as the ACM Urban Studies program, placing alumni from the Ivy League with urban community organizations for a year.

"John was a great man in the essential definition of the term," said consumer advocate and former presidential candidate Ralph Nader, who studied at Princeton with Mr. Fish and later worked with him to create postgraduate fellowship programs for Princeton alumni. "He connected religion with morals and justice, and his very spiritual side gave him considerable stamina and a larger frame of reference to portray horizons for his students."

Please visit The Chicago Tribune for the full obituary.

Mr. Fish also is survived by two sons, John and Dan; four grandchildren; and two great-granddaughters.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at University Church, 5655 S. University Ave.

 Mark Morrison-Reed (MA 1977) has published The Selma Awakening: How the Civil Rights  Movement Tested and Changed Unitarian Universalism. Morrison-Reed, a prominent scholar of African-American Unitarian Universalist history presents this analysis of the denomination's civil rights activism in Selma, Alabama, in 1965, a turning point for Unitarian Universalists. 




Vincent G. Harding died on May 14, 2014, at the age of 82. Harding received his MA in 1956 and his PhD in 1965, both from the University of Chicago’s Social Sciences division (History).

A professor at the Ilff School of Theology since 1981, Harding was also a civil rights leader known for social justice activism. He was an aide and speechwriter to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., and penned King's famous anti-Vietnam speech, " Beyond Vietnam: A Time to Break the Silence."

After King's assassination, Harding became the first director of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Center and of the Institute of the Black World, both in Atlanta. He and his first wife, Rosemarie, founded the Mennonite House, an interracial service center and gathering place, and traveled the South assisting anti-segregation campaigns for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and the Congress of Racial Equality.

Born in Harlem, N.Y., in 1931, Harding joined the Army in 1953 after earning a bachelor's degree in history from the City College of New York. He was discharged in 1955 and earned a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University before coming to Chicago.

Harding came to Iliff as a religion and social transformation professor in 1981, having previously taught at the University of Pennsylvania, Spelman College and other universities. He retired from full-time teaching in 2004 but remained involved at the school and was slated to speak at next month's commencement.

He was the author, co-author or editor of numerous books, including There Is a River: The Black Struggle for Freedom in America and Martin Luther King: The Inconvenient Hero.

Harding’s first wife died in 2004. Harding is survived by his second wife, Aljosie Aldrich Harding; daughter, Rachel Harding; and son, Jonathan Harding.

Condolences can be sent to The Harding Family, c/o The Veterans of Hope Project at The Iliff School of Theology. Contributions can be made on The Veterans of Hope Project website.

M. Cooper Harriss (PhD 2011 in Religion and Literature) has accepted a position as Assistant Professor of Religion in the Americas in the Department of Religious Studies at Indiana University.

Kevin Schilbrack (AM 1988, PhD 1995) was appointed Professor and Chair of the Department of Philosophy & Religion at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC. He also published Philosophy and the Study of Religion: A Manifesto (Wiley-Blackwell, 2014).





Paul Dekar (MA '73, PhD '78) is Professor Emeritus of Evangelism and Mission at Memphis Theological Seminary of the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. He recently coedited, with Lewis V. Baldwin, "In An Inescapable Network of Mutuality": Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Globalization of an Ethical Ideal (Wipf and Stock).





Catherine L. Albanese (MA '70, PhD '72), the J.F. Rowny Professor Emerita in Comparative Religions and Research Professor at the University of California at Santa Barbara, delivered the American Academy of Religions' American Lectures in the History of Religion for 2014 at five Atlanta colleges and universities. Along with John B. Cobb, Jr. (MA '49, PhD '52), and Helen Hardacre (PhD '80), she was also elected into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Read more here.


Colleen Carpenter (MA '91, PHD '01), Associate Professor of Theology at St. Catherine University in St. Paul, MN, was appointed the Sister Mona Riley Endowed Chair in the Humanities for 2014-2017.  Both the scholarship supported by the endowment and the campus programming in the humanities that Carpenter will be able to plan and present will be centered around the theme of "Earthkeeping: Knowing and Tending our Planetary Home."

Catherine L. Albanese (MA '70, PhD '72), John B. Cobb, Jr. (MA '49, PhD '52), and Helen Hardacre (PhD '80) were newly elected as members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Read more here.

Grotius.jpgWilliam Vasilio Sotirovich (MA'57) recently had his book Grotius Universe: Divine Law and A Quest for Harmony enter a second edition. The second edition marks the birth of the Dutch jurist Hugo Grotius (1583) and his contributions to international law. The book emphasizes the interrelationship between theology and jurisprudence in Grotius’ works, while also including discussions of the United Nations and the Declaration of Human Rights.




QualityOfLife.jpgAlex Michalos (B.D. 1961), Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Northern British Columbia, edited and published the 12 volume Encyclopedia of Quality of Life and Well-Being Research (Springer, 2014).





Mark Reasoner (PhD 1990) and Joel Kaminsky (MA 1984, PhD 1993) co-authored (along with Joel N. LohrThe Abingdon Introduction to the Bible: Understanding Jewish and Christian Scriptures (Abingdon, 2014). This highly accessible book is intended to give students an overview of the Tanakh and New Testament as well as show students some of the ways in which biblical texts have been appropriated and read by Jews, Christians, and contemporary scholars.

Yaakov Ariel (PhD 1986) has published a new book, An Unusual Relationship: Evangelical Christians and Jews (New York University Press).





Alex Nava (PhD 1997) recently published a new book: Wonder and Exile in the New World (Penn State University Press, 2013).  This book is a study of religion and literature in Latin America from the time of the Conquest through 20th-century magical realism with a focus on the metaphor of 'wonder' in the New World.




Charles R. Strain (PhD 1976), Professor of Religious Studies at DePaul University, has published The Prophet and the Bodhisattva: Daniel Berrigan, Thich Nhat Hahn, and the Ethics of Peace and Justice (Wipf and Stock, 2014).





John Holt (PhD 1977), the William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of Humanities in Religion and Asian Studies at Bowdoin College, has been awarded a John Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship to research and write about Buddhist/Muslim tensions in Sri Lanka and Burma.





Frank Burch  BrownEffective August 2014, Frank Burch Brown (MA 1972, PhD 1979 in Religion & Literature), will be the CARE/GTU Visiting Professor of Art and Religion in the Center for Arts, Religion, and Education at the Graduate Theological Union, which has long emphasized the arts in theological education. Jointly, he will be Dean of Disciples Seminary Foundation in Northern California.  




GraceatTable.jpgThe Reverend Dr. Donna Schaper (MA 1971) is Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City. She has recently published Grace at Table: Small Spiritual Solutions to Large Material Problems, Solving Everything (Cascade Books, 2013). Forthcoming is Prayers for People Who Think They Can't Pray.





Staging Faith book coverCraig Prentiss (MA 1991, PhD 1997), professor of religious studies at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Missouri, has published Staging Faith: Religion and African American Theater from the Harlem Renaissance to World War II (NYU Press 2014).





John D. Barbour (PhD'81)  has published Renunciation: A Novel (Wipf and Stock, 2013). The novel, set in Chicago in the 1970s, describes two brothers involved with Bhakti Dharma, a new religious movement. The narrator is a student at the Divinity School who studies early Christian asceticism partly in order to understand his brother's religious journey. The novel explores how family relationships and religious commitments conflict, intertwine, and shape each other.



TooGood.jpgChristopher D. Rodkey (MDiv '02) has published Too Good to Be True: Radical Christian Preaching, Year A (Christian Alternative, 2014).  With a foreword by Peter Rollins and an afterword by Thomas J. J. Altizer (Ph.D., 1955). He is Pastor of St. Paul's United Church of Christ in Dallastown, PA and instructor at Penn State York, where he was the 2013 recipient of the James H. Burness Excellence in Teaching Award.




LordSiva.jpgAndrew J. Nicholson (MA '95) has published his second book, Lord Śiva's Song: The Īśvara Gītā (SUNY Press, 2014). He is Associate Professor in the Department of Asian & Asian American Studies and the Department of Philosophy at Stony Brook University.





/Christian%20Monitors.jpgBrent S. Sirota (MA '01)  is assistant professor of history at North Carolina State University. His first book, The Christian Monitors: The Church of England and the Age of Benevolence, 1680-1730 was published by Yale University Press in January 2014.





SchleiewrmacherPerplexed.jpgTed Vial (PhD '94; MA '87)  has published Schleiermacher: A Guide for the Perplexed (London: Bloomsbury T & T Clark, 2013).  Another book, Modern Religion, Modern Race, is under contract with Oxford University Press.





Alain Epp Weaver (PhD 2012; MDiv'99) has published Mapping Exile and Return: Palestinian Dispossession and a Political Theology for a Shared Future (Fortress, 2014). He directs the Planning and Learning department for Mennonite Central Committee.





Robert Ellwood (PhD'67) is living in Ojai, California, and enjoying retirement.  He has published three textbooks recently:  Introducing Japanese Religion (Routledge, 2008), dedicated to the memory of Prof. Joseph M. Kitagawa; Many Peoples, Many Faiths: Women and Men in the World's Religions, 10th ed., coauthored by Barbara A. McGraw (Pearson, 2014) a world religion textbook; and Introducing Religion: Religious Studies for the Twenty-first Century, 4th ed. (Pearson, 2014) -- this edition contains much new material, including chapters on popular religion, religion and the Internet, and religion and war.

AmazonsNunsWives.jpgCarole A. Myscofski (PhD'81) is the McFee Professor of Religion, in the Religion Department at Illinois Wesleyan University, where she also directs the Women's and Gender Studies Program. Her new book Amazons, Wives, Nuns and Witches:  Women and Roman Catholicism in Colonial Brazil, 1500–1822, was published by the University of Texas Press in November 2013.  




/ConscienceCalling.jpgAnne E. Patrick, SNJM (MA'76, PhD'82) is the William H. Laird Professor Emerita of Religion and the Liberal Arts at Carleton College. She received the 2013 John Courtney Murray Award from the Catholic Theological Society of America for "outstanding and distinguished achievement in Theology." She has recently pulbished Conscience and calling: Ethical Reflections on Catholic Women's Church Vocations (Bloomsbury/T+T Clark, 2013), which probes the meaning and ethical implications of the powerful symbol of vocation from the vantage of contemporary Catholic women. It treats twentieth-century history and more recent developments, including tensions between the Vatican and US women religious.



Claudia D. Bergmann (PhD'06)  received a sizeable grant from the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft to finish her book entitled "Endzeit als Mahl-Zeit: Imaginierte
endzeitliche Mahlrituale in der jüdischen Apokalyptik" at the Universität Erfurt, Germany. She intends to submit this book as Habilitationsschrift.

ChurchNation.jpgPhyllis D. Airhart (MA 1981, PhD'85) has published A Church with the Soul of a Nation: Making and Remaking the United Church (McGill-Queen's University Press, 2014).





C. David Hein (MA'77) has published three articles that deal with religion and ethics during the Second World War: "In War for Peace: General George C. Marshall's Core Convictions and Ethical Leadership," Touchstone 26, no. 2 (March 2013): 41–48; "Counterpoint to Combat: The Education of Airborne Commander James M. Gavin," Army 63, no. 7 (July 2013): 49–52; and "Vulnerable: HMS Prince of Wales in 1941," Journal of Military History 77, no. 3 (July 2013): 955–89.

LeadershipElizabethan.jpgPeter Iver Kaufman (MA'73, PhD‘75) published two new books in 2013: The edited volume Leadership and Elizabethan Culture, and the monograph Religion Around Shakespeare. Professor Kaufman was also voted “Faculty member of the Year” by the student government at the University of Richmond as well as “University Distinguished Educator” by a committee of his colleagues and alumni.




Dr. Mark Mattes (PhD‘95) edited Twentieth-Century Lutheran Theologians, which has now been published by Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht.

Alden E. Matthews (BD‘46) published his autobiography, My Three Worlds, exploring themes of Christian missions in the 20th century in Japan and China. 

William Vasilio Sotirovich (MA''57) recently had his book Grotius Universe: Divine Law and A Quest for Harmony enter a second edition in 2013. The second edition marks the birth of the Dutch jurist Hugo Grotius (1583) and his contributions to international law. The book emphasizes the interrelationship between theology and jurisprudence in Grotius’ works, while also including discussions of the United Nations and the Declaration of Human Rights.

Richard Wiebe (MA'76) was appointed Associate Professor of Philosophy at Fresno Pacific University in 2010. He has recently published: “The Metaphysics of Forest Fires: An Annotated Review of the Literature,” in Pacific Journal, vol. 2, 2011. Professor Wiebe gave several public lectures as a researcher in Navajo philosophy at the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff, and he routinely gives lectures on important American environmental philosophers to the Sierra Club.