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Peter Iver Kaufman

Peter Iver Kaufman Named Divinity School Alumnus of the Year, 2016


Professor Kaufman delivered his Alumnus of the Year lecture, entitled “Giorgio Agamben, Meet Augustine (With an Extended Introduction to Augustine’s Statesmen)” on Thursday, April 21, 2016, at 4:30pm in Swift Lecture Hall (third floor).


May, 2015: Upon recommendation from the Divinity School’s Alumni Council, the Board of Trustees of the Baptist Theological Union has named Peter Iver Kaufman, (MA 1973, PhD 1975, History of Christianity) the Divinity School Alumnus of the Year for 2016.

Kaufman is George Matthews and Virginia Brinkley Modlin Professor of Leadership Studies in the Jepson School of Leadership Studies at the University of Richmond, a position he has held since 2008.  Previously he taught at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he is Professor Emeritus.

Dr. Kaufman’s scholarly work focuses on the political cultures of late antique, medieval, and early modern Europe and North Africa; he teaches leadership studies courses as well as advanced courses on political, cultural and religious leaders in late antiquity and early modern Europe.

Of the award, Dean Margaret M. Mitchell said “Professor Peter Kaufman’s integration of scholarly work and passion for social justice exemplify the highest values of the University of Chicago Divinity School. His work exploring the intersection of religion, culture, politics, leadership, and educational systems and ideals from antiquity through the early modern period has led to outstanding pedagogy and prolific, and influential research. In addition, Professor Kaufman’s work to ensure access to education for underrepresented minorities demonstrates a seasoned, mature, and reflective mind moved by compassion.”

Kaufman taught at Chapel Hill for thirty years (1978-2008), and was the co-founder and director of the Program in the Study of Christianity and Culture. During that time he won seven awards for teaching excellence and, in 2002, founded the Scholars Latino Initiative (SLI), which has chapters in North Carolina and two in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. For twelve years Kaufman taught early college classes in the high schools and directed college placement for undocumented youngsters.

His ninth book will appear next year. The previous eight include Redeeming Politics (Princeton 1990) and Incorrectly Political: Augustine and Thomas More (University of Notre Dame, 2007).  Over forty articles on authority, religious conflict, and literary history have appeared in journals including The Journal of Late AntiquityJournal of Early Christian Studies, Harvard Theological ReviewArchiv für ReformationsgeschichteJournal of the American Academy of Religion, Church History, and Journal of Religion. He has also co-edited two books and edited four, ranging from studies of charisma to others on leadership and Elizabethan culture.

Professor Kaufman’s most recent book is Religion Around Shakespeare (Penn State University Press, 2013). This volume represents the launch for a series of books, for which Kaufman is the general editor, on the ‘religion around’ major literary and cultural figures from Dante through Bob Dylan. Also in 2013, at the University of Richmond, he won both the Richmond College’s “Outstanding Teacher” award (nominated and refereed by student colleagues) and the University’s Distinguished Educator award (nominated and refereed by faculty colleagues).

Kaufman will deliver the 2016 Alumnus of the Year address on April 21, 2016, as well as the Dean’s Craft of Teaching seminar for The Craft of Teaching in the Academic Study of Religion Program.