Alumni news 2015-2016

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Douglas M. Gillette (AMRS'75) has published a new book, At the Thresholds of Elysium: Lyrical Illuminations for Lifting Spirit into Bliss. He has published seven other titles with major publishing houses in the general area of religion and psychology, and history of religions.

C. David Hein (MA'77) has recently published two new articles related to GEN George C. Marshall. These are "The Marshall Plan: Conservative Reform as a Weapon of War," published in Modern Age: A Quarterly Review 59, no. 1 (Winter 2017) and “Ronald Reagan and George C. Marshall: A Cold War Affinity” in The St. Croix Review 49, no. 4 (August 2016). David Hein is chairman of the development committee of the board of trustees, George C. Marshall Foundation in Lexington, Virginia.

Laurie Patton (MA'86, PhD'91 in the History of Religions area) has been elected Vice President of the American Academy of Religion (AAR). The AAR, a learned society and professional association of teachers and research scholars, has about 9,000 members who teach in some 900 colleges, universities, seminaries, and schools in North America and abroad. The Academy is dedicated to furthering knowledge of religion and religious institutions in all their forms and manifestations. This is accomplished through Academy-wide and regional conferences and meetings, publications, programs, and membership services. Prof. Patton was the Divinity School's Alumna of the Year for 2015. President of Middlebury College, Dr. Patton is an accomplished scholar and the author or editor of nine books on South Asian history, culture, and religion. In addition, she has translated the classical Sanskrit text, the Bhagavad Gita, and has published two books of poetry. She has lectured widely on interfaith issues and religion and public life, and consulted with White House offices on faith-based initiatives and civic engagement. Dr. Patton is completing two further monographs—one on scholars in the public sphere and another on women, Sanskrit, and religious identity in postcolonial India.


Donna Schaper (MA'71) is Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City. Upcoming in December 2016 Fortress Press will release her most recent work, I Heart Frances: Love Letters from a Reluctant Admirer. She will deliver a Wednesday Lunch on this topic at the Divinity School on March 1, 2017. 

Kenneth S. Sawyer (MA'88 Library School, PhD, PHD'92, History of Christianity) was inaugurated as Professor of Church History on Wednesday, September 7, 2016, at the Augustana Chapel at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. 

Elijah Zehyoue (MDiv'14) is now Director of Communications and Programming with the New Baptist Covenant, which founded in 2008 by President Jimmy Carter to work to heal the racial divide. A recent piece about his work and the work of the New Baptist Covenant is available here

Robert E. Alvis (MA'92, PhD 2000) serves as academic dean and associate professor of church history at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology. He recently published White Eagle, Black Madonna: One Thousand Years of the Polish Catholic Tradition (Fordham University Press, 2016).

T. Vail Palmer, Jr. (PhD'65) has published Face to Face:  Early Quaker Encounters with the Bible (Barclay Press).  This is projected as the first book in a three-volume set.  A second book is planned for publication this time next year. Dr. Palmer is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Religion and Chairman of Social and Behavioral Sciences Department at Rio Grande College (now University), Ohio and the former editor of a theological journal, Quaker Religious Thought.

Phyllis D. Airhart (MA'81; PhD'85) is the winner of the 2016 Book Prize from the CSSR/SCÉR (Canadian Society for the Study of Religion) for A Church with the Soul of a Nation: Making and Remaking the United Church of Canada. The annual award recognizes an outstanding monograph in the field of Religious Studies. Airhart is Professor of the History of Christianity at Emmanuel College in the University of Toronto and cross-appointed to the Department for the Study of Religion.

Preston M. Browning, Jr. (PhD'69) writes that his book of ten essays, Struggling for the Soul of Our Country, was released in May 2016 by Wipf & Stock. Topics range from Christian socialism to America's forgotten wars to global warming and Christian faith.  Dr. Browning is Associate Professor Emeritus of English at University of Illinois at Chicago. 
Jonathan Bradley Krogh (AB'82 College; MA'84; MDiv'87) was installed as a Teaching Elder of the First Presbyterian Church of La Grange, Illinois on Sunday, June 12, 2016.
Ralph Keen (PhD'90) has been appointed dean of the Honors College at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Laura Lieber (PhD'03) has been promoted to full Professor of Religious Studies at Duke University, where she is also the Smart Family Director of the Duke Center for Jewish Studies. 
Ronald W. Duty (AMRS'85) has co-edited with Marie A. Failinger a book entitled On Secular Governance: Lutheran Interpretations of Contemporary Legal Issues (Eerdmans) to which he also contributed a chapter, "Law, Grace, Climate Change, and Water Rights in the American Southwest."  Other Divinity School graduates contributing to the book were Patrick R. Keifert (PhD'82) and Robert Benne (PhD'70).
Joann Maguire Robinson (PhD 1996) has been awarded the AAR Excellence in Teaching Award for 2016. The American Academy of Religion Award for Excellence in Teaching recognizes the importance of teaching, and honors outstanding teaching in the field. Robinson, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, will make remarks and engage questions and answers during the Special Topics Forum at this year's Annual Meeting in San Antonio, Texas. 
Jerome Copulsky (AM’97, PhD’04, Theology) has been awarded an AAR-Luce Fellowship in Religion and International Affairs. His work focuses on modern Judaism, political theology, and religion/state issues. The fellowship will fund Dr. Copulsky to work in the Office of Religion and Global Affairs as a Franklin Fellow at the US Department of State. Most recently, he has served as Director of Judaic Studies and Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Religion at Goucher College. 
Thomas F. Freeman (PhD'48) will be honored for his sixty-five years of service at Mt. Horem Baptist Church. Dr. Freeman is professor of philosophy emeritus at Texas Southern University, where the Honors College is named after him. A legendary educator and distinguished Professor of Forensics,  Dr. Freeman spent over sixty years as head coach of the internationally acclaimed Texas Southern University Debate team

William Meyer (MA'88, PhD'92) is Professor of Philosophy and the Ralph W. Beeson Professor of Religion at Maryville College in Maryville, TN. He has recently published a new book entitled Darwin in a New Key: Evolution and the Question of Value (Cascade Books, 2016).

George W. Shields (PhD'81) has retired after 31 years of teaching and was appointed Emeritus Professor of Philosophy and Environmental Studies at Kentucky State University in July 2015.  Dr Sheilds was elected University Distinguished Professor in 2000 and served for fifteen years as Chairperson of Literature, Languages, and Philosophy and Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. In addition to teaching a wide range of courses in Philosophy, he developed and taught courses in Environmental Ethics and Environmental Justice for Kentucky State's interdisciplinary graduate program in Environmental Studies.

He continues to teach in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Louisville. This Fall semester he received recognition as a "Faculty Favorite" from Louisville's Delphi Center for Teaching Learning.

Prof. Shields is co-author with Donald Viney of four commissioned articles on the philosophy of Charles Hartshorne published this summer in The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy: A Peer-Reviewed Academic Resource: "Biography/ Philosophy and Psychology of Sensation," "Neoclassical Metaphysics," "Dipolar Theism," and "Theistic and Anti-Theistic Arguments." His essay "A Logical Analysis of Relational Realism" appears in Physics and Speculative Philosophy: Potentiality in Modern Science, edited by Timothy Eastman, Michael Epperson, and David Ray Griffin (Berlin: DeGruyter, 2016). He served as Co-Chairperson of the Analytic Philosophy sessions at the 10th International A. N. Whitehead Conference at Pomona College and Claremont Graduate University held in June 2015, where he presented a paper entitled "Getting Something From Nothing? On Logic, Transcendental Argument, and the Quantum Vacuum." Prof. Shield's paper entitled "The Esti/To Eon Distinction in Parmenides' Proem: A Defense of the Munitz Interpretation" will be presented at the 67th Annual Meeting of the Metaphysical Society of America in Annapolis, MD in March 2016.
John G. Stackhouse, Jr. (PhD'87) published his ninth book this fall: Partners in Christ: A Conservative Case for Egalitarianism (InterVarsity). "This book shouldn't be necessary, after all the good books that have made a solid orthodox case for Biblical feminism," Stackhouse says. "But, alas, a whole new generation has been raised in evangelical circles without a clue about how to square egalitarianism with faith in the Bible as God's Word. So I hope this book will help, as my previous one seems to have done."

Stackhouse is the Samuel J. Mikolaski Professor of Religious Studies at Crandall University in Moncton, New Brunswick, and serves also as Dean of Faculty Development.

Patrick J. Nugent (MDiv'90, PhD'99) has been appointed Executive Director of the Annapolis Symphony Orchestra, a professional regional symphony of 70 musicians performing 18 concerts per year and offering an extensive education program for elementary and middle-school students, with annual attendance of 10,000.

Christopher Beem  (MA'92, PhD'94), has been named managing director of the McCourtney Institute for Democracy at Penn State. Beem is author or co-editor of five books, including The Necessity of Politics (University of Chicago Press) and, most recently, Democratic Humility (Lexington Books). He will help raise the visibility of the McCourtney Institute for Democracy and coordinate with the Institute’s two affiliated centers.

Robert M. Franklin (PhD‘85) was selected to be one of four advisors on the epic documentary series “Belief,” narrated and produced by Oprah Winfrey and airing October 18-25, 2015, on Oprah’s network, OWN. 

David M. Knipe (PhD'71) has recently published Vedic Voices: Intimate Narratives of a Living Andhra Tradition. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015).

Joel Kaminsky (MA'84, PhD'93) has been appointed Morningstar Family Professor of Jewish Studies and Professor of Religion at Smith College and will give his inaugural lecture on Monday, November 2, 2015 at 5 p.m. in Seelye Hall room 106.  The lecture is free and open to the public. 

Robert M. Franklin (PhD'85) recently wrote a piece for the Huffington Post regarding Pope Francis' visit to our country:

Phil Hefner (PhD'62) has just published a book, coathored with Ann Pederson and Susan Baretto: Our Bodies Are Selves (Cascade). 

Joseph F. Byrnes (PhD'76) is Professor Emeritus of Modern European History at Oklahoma State University. He has recently published Priests of the French Revolution: Saints and Renegades in a New Political Era (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2014). The book presents the ways priests and bishops who opted  to work for, or cooperate with, the revolutionary government based their political behaviors on their own interpretations of priestly ministry. Joe is now setting up online procedures to facilitate contributions to a digitized repertoire of the priests of the Constitutional (revolutionary) Church, and collaborating with French colleagues on a dictionary of the bishops of the Constitutional Church; details are available at

Julian De Shazier (MDiv'10), Pastor of University Church in CHicago, has won an Emmy Award. The award is for his work on the short film Strange Fruit. Read more about the film and SALT, an Emmy Award winning production company dedicated to the craft of visual storytelling at

C. David Hein (AM'77) has published an essay entitled “George Washington and the Patience of Power”  in Modern Age: A Quarterly Review 57, no. 4  (Fall 2015): 35–43.

Ralph Keen (PhD 1990) has been named Interim Dean of the Honors College at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he is professor of history and holds the Arthur Schmit Chair in Catholic Studies.

Rev. Bernard R. Bonnot (AMRS'76) was elected for the second year as Chair of the leadership team of the Association of US Catholic Presiest. He is Pastor at Christ our Savior Church in Struthers, Ohio. His essay "It's time to reset our pastoral strategy: Ordain married men" was published in Crux in June, 2015.

David W. Frantz (DMin'80, MA'75) was promoted from Associate to Full Professor of Management, by the Indiana University Board of Trustees. He has served for the past ten years as Dean of the School of Business and Economics at Indiana University East.  

Thomas R. Blanton, IV (PhD'06) is the first recipient of ASOR's recently established William G. Dever Fellowship for Biblical Scholars. The fellowship was established in 2015 to award a qualified American untenured faculty member in the field of biblical studies with a $6000 grant to be used to gain elementary, first-hand experience in field archaeology and research in Israel. The fellowship will provide fundingfor one month as an Area Supervisor at the excavation at Shikhin in lower Galilee and one month travel to other digs, combined with a one-month residency (room and half-board) at the W. F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem.


Annette Bourland Huizenga (PhD'10), assistant professor of New Testament, was inducted into the Faculty Hall of Fame at the University of Dubuque and recognized with the William L. Lomax Award on April 30, 2015. The William L. Lomax Award is one of three “Excellence in Teaching and Advising Awards” at the University of Dubuque were established by Richard and Donna Svrluga in 1995-96 to recognize the contributions and impact of University faculty on the lives of students.  Fondly remembered by his students who studied business, Professor Lomax was smart, tough, fair, no-nonsense, and fun.  As a member of the Business Department from 1953-69, he influenced the lives of many students.  Rev. Dr.  Huizenga  previously taught at the Catholic Theological Union, McCormick Theological Seminary, and The Divinity School, University of Chicago, before coming to UD in the fall of 2008.  Huizenga was ordained by LaSalle Street Church in Chicago, IL (nondenominational) and served as pastor from 1989 – 1999.  A presenter at the Society of Biblical Literature (annual and international meetings), the University of Chicago, and the Chicago Society of Biblical Research, her work has centered on ideas about education, marriage, families, and the economics of the New Testament world.  Huizenga’s current writing project is a commentary on the New Testament letters known as First and Second Timothy and Titus. 

Franklin Sherman (MA'52, PhD'61) was recognized at its 2015 Commencement by the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago with an award for lifetime achievement in theological education and interfaith relations. Frank was formerly Professor of Christian Ethics and Dean at LSTC, subsequently becoming Founding Director of the Institute for Jewish-Christian Understanding at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA. He recently published a two-volume collection entitled Bridges: Documents of the Jewish-Christian Dialogue (Paulist Press, 2011, 2014).

Benjamin C. Ray (MA'67, PhD'71) is Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia . He recently published Satan and Salem: The Witch-Hunt Crisis of 1692 (UVA Press).

Daniel Gold (PhD'82) is Professor of South Asian Religions, Department of Asian Studies, Cornell University. He recently published Provincial Hinduism: Religion and Community in Gwalior City (New York: Oxford 2015).






Jonathan Stockdale (MA'93, PhD'04), associate professor of Japanese religion at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington, has published a new book, Imagining Exile in Heian Japan: Banishment in Law, Literature, and Cult (University of Hawaii Press).







Ted Peters (PhD'73) is Emeritus Research Professor of Systematic Theology and Ethics at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and the GTU. He has two new books for 2015, both with Fortress Press: Sin Boldly! Justifying Faith for Fragile and Broken Souls and God – The World's Future, 3rd edition.

Emily  J. M. Knox (MA'00) is an assistant professor in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.  She recently published Book Banning in 21st Century America (Rowman & Littlefield).





Dale Goldsmith, (MA'64, PhD'73) has two new books to announce. Growing in Wisdow: Called to the Adventure of College was published in 2014 by Wifp & Stock; the same publisher is putting out Look – I Am With You: Devotions for the College Year in 2015.

Robert Ellwood (MA'65, PhD'67) is Professor Emeritus at the School of Religion, University of Southern California. He has published a series of books on myth with Continuum publishing: Myth: Key Concepts in Religion (2008); Tales of Darkness: The Mythology of Evil (2009); and Tales of Lights and Shadows: The Mythology of the Afterlife (2010). A new edition of Introducing Japanese Religion will appear in 2016.

Courtney Fitzsimmons (MA'03, PhD'10) has accepted a position as Assistant Professor of Religion at Whitman College.




Meira Kensky (MA 2001, PhD 2009) has recently been tenured and promoted and awarded an endowed chair. She is now the Joseph E. McCabe Associate Professor of Religion at Coe College. 





Robert D. Denham (MA, 1964; PhD in English, 1972 has recently published his thirty-eighth book, an edition of Northrop Frye’s Uncollected Prose (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2015).  His thirty-ninth book is in press—Northrop Frye and Others: Twelve Writers Who Help to Shape His Thought (Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, forthcoming 2015).  Denham is John P. Fishwick Professor of English Emeritus, Roanoke College.  He remembers Swift Hall in the early 1960s as an intellectually invigorating place.




Phyllis D. Airhart (MA 1981, PhD 1985) was a finalist for the 2015 Canada Prize in the Humanities for her book, A Church with the Soul of a Nation: Making and Remaking the United Church of Canada (McGill-Queen's University Press). The Canada Prizes are awarded annually by the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences to recognize books that make an exceptional contribution to scholarship, are engagingly written, and enrich the social, cultural and intellectual life of Canada.




Richard Hutch (MA 1971, PhD 1974, Religion and Psychological Studies) recently retired from a long academic career in Studies in Religion, School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry, University of Queensland, Australia. His public lecture, "Marching to the courthouse for freedom" on his experiences as a volunteer in the American Civil Rights Movement in the SCOPE Project ("Summer Community Organization and Political Education"), which was sponsored by Martin Luther King, Jr.'s  Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1965, will be delivered on May 29th at the University of Queensland, Australia.
Dr. Hutch recently delivered the keynote address on a symposium on the Civil Rights Movement at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania, where he was an undergraduate, 1963-67. His presentation in the town where Union troops turned back Confederate troops in 1863, which represented the beginning of the end of the Civil War, marked not only the 50th anniversary of the SCOPE Project, but also the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War (on April 9, 1865 at 3:15 pm).  Video of the address is available on YouTube.

Bill Wright (Ph.D. Theology, 2006) has recently published Calvin's Salvation in Writing: A Confessional Academic Theology (Brill).





Anthony Cerulli (PhD 2007, History of Religions), Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and Asian Studies, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, was recently named a 2015 Fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (JSGMF). This year 175 scholars, artists, and scientists were named fellows (out of a group of over 3,100 applicants). Prof. Cerulli received the sole fellowship in South Asian Studies for his project, "Sanskrit Medical Classics in Crisis: Language Politics and the Reinvention of a Medical Tradition in India."

John G. Stackhouse, Jr. (PhD, 1987) recently published his eighth book, Need to Know: Vocation as the Heart of Christian Epistemology (Oxford, 2014). This summer, he will leave Regent College, Vancouver, after 17 years in the Sangwoo Youtong Chee Chair of Theology and Culture, to take the Samuel J. Mikolaski Chair of Religious Studies at Crandall University in Moncton, New Brunswick.





Matthew Becker (MA'90; PhD'01) is associate professor of theology at Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, Indiana. His book "Fundamental Theology: A Protestant Perspective," was published last month by Bloomsbury/T&T Clark. The book's "Afterword" is by Martin Marty.

Franklin Sherman  (PhD 1961), former Professor of Christian Ethics and Dean of the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, has recently published an edited volume, Bridges: Documents of the Christian-Jewish Dialogue. Vol. 2, Building a New Relationship (1986-2013). New York and Mahway, NJ: Paulist Press, 2014; xix + 540 pp. This  completes his long-term project of assembling the most significant documents on this subject from Christian, Jewish, and interfaith sources around the world. The first part of the collection was published by Paulist in 2011, with the title Bridges: Documents of the Christian-Jewish Dialogue. Vol. 1, The Road to Reconciliation (1945-1985); xx + 442 pp. Both volumes include introductions by a leading Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Jewish scholar in the field as well as a Preface and interpretive comments by Dr. Sherman.

C. David Hein (MA 1977) has published a new essay on the ethical principles of the American Founding: “Leadership and Unnatural Virtues: George Washington and the Patience of Power" as the afterword to a new edition of Patience: How We Wait Upon the World, by David Baily Harned, (Reprint ed., Eugene, OR: Wipf & Stock, 2015).

Alan Verskin (MA 2004) is assistant professor in the Department of History at the University of Rhode Island. He just published Islamic Law and the Crisis of the Reconquista: The Debate on the Status of Muslim Communities in Christendom (Leiden: Brill, 2015).







Kevin Jung (PhD 2004), is Associate Professor of Christian Ethics at Wake Forest University. He has recently published a book titled Christian Ethics and Commonsense Morality in the Routledge Studies in the Philosophy of Religion.






Michael Sohn  (PhD, 2012) is currently Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Comparative Religion at Cleveland State University.  He recently published The Good of Recognition: Phenomenology, Ethics, and Religion in the Thought of Levinas and Ricoeur (Baylor University Press, 2014).






Michael Joseph Brown (PhD 1998) has assumed the position of VP of Academic Affairs and Dean of the seminary at Payne Theologoical Semnary, the oldest African American theological institution in North America.


Clare K. Rothschild (PhD'03, New Testament/Biblical Studies), Robert Mathew Calhoun (PhD 2001, NTECL) and Thomas R. Blanton IV, editors, have published The History of Religions School Today: Essays on the New Testament and Related Ancient Mediterranean Texts. This volume offers a glimpse at one current thriving expression of the distinguished history of religions school approach to the New Testament and Early Christian Literature. The University of Chicago has long been a hub of this type of investigation and over the last century, many of these Chicago studies have produced groundbreaking results. The book is dedicated to Professor Hans Dieter Betz, Shailer Mathews Professor Emeritus of New Testament in the Divinity School, the Department of New Testament and Early Christian Literature, and the Committee on the Ancient Mediterranean World. Divinity contributors include Mark Reasoner  (PHD 1990 NTECL), Meira Z Kensky (PhD 2009), Jeffrey Asher ( PhD 1999 NTECL), Laurie Brink (PhD 2009), David G Monaco (PhD 2011), Paul B Duff (PhD 1988), Matt Jackson-McCabe (PhD 1998 NTECL ), and Jeffrey A Trumbower  (PhD 1989).