Joseph L. Price, 2019 Alumnus of the Year

September 27, 2019
2019 Alumnus of the Year Joseph L. Price, MA'79, PhD'82 2019 Alumnus of the Year Joseph L. Price, MA'79, PhD'82

In April 2019, the University of Chicago Divinity School was honored to introduce its 2019 Alumnus of the Year, Joseph (Joe) L. Price, MA’79, PhD’82.

Professor Price is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Religious Studies at Whittier College, where he has served since 1982. During his tenure at Whittier, Professor Price taught more than thirty-five different courses, chaired or participated in dozens of committees, and was deeply involved in the intellectual life of the campus community as well as with the community of scholars of religion and publics outside the academy.

“I think that there are few Divinity School alumni who have had such a far-ranging influence in such a variety of forums,” wrote John D. Barbour (PhD’81), Professor of Religion at St. Olaf College, in his nominating letter. “There are few people with Joe’s ability to make the case for the significance of studying religion and theology to understand contemporary society and culture.”

A prolific writer, Price is the author and coeditor of several theological works, including a number of Handbooks (coedited with Divinity School alumnus Donald W. Musser, PhD’81) which have been widely used in theological studies. Price is also the author of numerous essays and three important books on sports and religion, including From Season to Season: Sports as American Religion and Rounding the Bases: Baseball and Religion in America. At Whittier he is also the codirector of the Institute for Baseball Studies, which he cofounded in 2014.

Mark Toulouse (PhD’84), former Principal and Emeritus Professor of the History of Christianity at Emmanuel College and the 2018 Alumnus of the Year, said that  Professor Price has “modeled for both colleagues and students the importance of the scholarly engagement of religion with wider publics.”

Combining his interests in sports, ritual studies, and music, Professor Price has sung the national anthem for over 125 professional baseball games in twenty Major League and one-hundred minor league ballparks. His most recent book is Perfect Pitch: The National Anthem for the National Pastime (Mercer University Press).

“Beyond his wide-ranging service to the academic study of religion and to the pedagogical development of generations of students,” said David Nirenberg, Dean of the Divinity School, of the appointment, “Professor Price’s commitment to religious discourses outside of the academy make him an excellent choice for the Divinity School Alumnus of the Year.