The Divinity School Alumnus of the Year 2018
Upon recommendation from the Divinity School’s Alumni Council, the Board of Trustees of the Baptist Theological Union has named Mark G. Toulouse (PhD'84) the Divinity School Alumnus of the Year for 2018.
Mark Toulouse is Principal of Emmanuel College and Professor of the History of Christianity at Emmanuel College and the Department for the Study of Religion at the University of Toronto. He joined the faculty of Emmanuel College, the University of Toronto’s seminary, in 2009, after serving twenty-three years at Brite Divinity School of Texas Christian University as a historian of religion and culture. Eleven of those years were spent as Dean and Executive Vice-President. He began his work in theological education in 1984, when he joined the faculty of Phillips Theological Seminary in Enid, Oklahoma.
Phyllis D. Airhart (MA'81; PhD'85), Professor of the History of Christianity at Emmanuel College, University of Toronto, wrote in her nominating letter that "I can think of no other Divinity School alum more deserving of this award."
Dr. Toulouse is the author of numerous articles and books. His books include The Transformation of John Foster Dulles: From Prophet of Realism to Priest of Nationalism (1985); Joined in Discipleship: The Shaping of Contemporary Disciples Identity (1992 and 1997); Makers of Christian Theology in America (1997), Sources of Christian Theology in America (1999), Walter Scott: A Nineteenth-Century Evangelical (1999), and God in Public (2006). The Academy of Parish Clergy named God in Public one of the top ten books of the year. His most recent work (co-authored) is a religious analysis of North American popular culture, The Altars Where We Worship: The Religious Significance of Popular Culture (2016).
An ordained minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Dr. Toulouse regularly conducts workshops for ministers and lay people on topics pertaining to North American Christianity, Disciples history and theology, religion and public life, and theological education.
"Mark Toulouse is a distinguished scholar and a leader of the first rank in theological education in North America," said Richard A. Rosengarten, Dean of the Divinity School, of the appointment. "It is great to salute his wise and dedicated work over many decades, foreshadowed as it was by his performance as a stellar sixth man for the Divinity School basketball team during its run of championship seasons in the late '70s and early '80s."
Dr. Toulouse's research and teaching have been supported by grants from the Association of Theological Schools, the Lilly Endowment, the Louisville Institute, the Wabash Centre for Teaching and Learning, the Henry Luce Foundation (he was named a Henry Luce III Fellow in Theology for 1997-1998), and the Connaught Fund at the University of Toronto. He twice received, by vote of his colleagues at Brite, the Catherine Saylor Hill Award for Faculty Excellence in Teaching and Research.
In her letter nominating Dr. Toulouse as the Alumnus of the Year, Stacey M. Floyd-Thomas, Associate Professor of Ethics and Society at Vanderbilt University, wrote that the Divinity School is fortunate to have cultivated, and call their own, a scholar with such profound influence, productivity, and achievement; "in light of providing leadership in theological education totaling more than 35 years, Dr. Toulouse has proven himself as a scholar and religious leader who has been exemplary in every regard."
The Alumnus of the Year lecture will be given in Swift Hall on Thursday, April 19, 2018, at 4:30pm. A reception will follow. At noon on that same day Dr. Toulouse will present the Spring Quarter Dean’s Seminar in the Craft of Teaching. The seminar is the flagship seminar of the Divinity School’s innovative pedagogical curriculum, the Craft of Teaching program, centered on issues of course design, institutional context, and leadership in higher education. More information will be available closer to the date.
Banner photo by Romi Levine