Upon recommendation from the Divinity School’s Alumni Council, the Board of Trustees of the Baptist Theological Union has named Audrey Gordon (MA’70) the Divinity School Alumna of the Year for 2020. 

A pioneer in the field of end-of-life care, Dr. Gordon has published extensively, held numerous prestigious positions in academia, religious education, and the public health sector, and also maintained a thriving private practice as a family therapist.

After receiving her MA in the field of psychology and religion, she continued her studies at Northwestern, where she completed doctoral work in History and Literature of Religions, and then the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she received a PhD in Public Health Sciences.

Retired from the gerontology faculty in Community Health Sciences at the School of Public Health at the University of Illinois at Chicago, Dr. Gordon founded and led the Southeast Lake County Faith in Action Volunteers, a group serving seniors and disabled adults in their homes. Over her career she has been a professor of public health, a hospital chaplain, and a hospice professional, among other positions.

Her extraordinary achievements in the fields of death and dying have deeply affected and informed students and practitioners across disciplines, as well as changing the way many in our culture experience death. The work she did with Elisabeth Kubler-Ross on the stages of grief is still taught today. Her work in the vanguard of the hospice movement has helped transform a critical area of the American health care system. 

“Dr. Gordon’s contributions to the fields of palliative and hospice care have been immense,” said David Nirenberg, Dean of the Divinity School, of the award. “She has eased the suffering of many, and changed the way in which our generation experiences the end of life.  It is difficult to imagine achievements more worthy of this recognition."

Update: Dr. Gordon's Alumna of the Year lecture, entitled “September Song: The evolution of hospice and end of life care,” has been postponed until the Autumn Quarter, date TBD.