Greetings from the Chair

Dear GDR Graduates, Students, Faculty, and Friends,

I am pleased to greet you with this second issue of our e-Newsletter!  As I indicated last time, we hope that this publication will provide a vehicle for sharing news several times a year about the exciting things that are happening in the broader community of Drew’s Graduate Division of Religion–not least the lives and careers of our alumni and alumnae.  Do send us your news, as well as suggestions for possible featured articles.

It is hard to believe that I have already finished my third year as Chair of the GDR, with just two more to go.  This year was particularly eventful.  Having welcomed two new faculty members—Elias Ortega-Aponte and Kate Ott —we were deeply saddened by the loss of Ada Maria Isasi-Díaz, Emerita Professor of Christian Ethics, who died rather suddenly this spring.  In almost the same moment, we said good-bye to our departing University President Bob Weisbuch and welcomed Interim President Vivian Bull–whom some of you might know as the spouse of Robert Bull, my predecessor as Professor of Early Church History at Drew.  In the more usual ebb and flow of academic life, we prepared ourselves to welcome a new class of entering students even as we marked the departure of our graduates.   And in the midst of such transitions, we read and wrote and thought and debated, in seminars and colloquia and conferences and special lectures, enjoying the extraordinarily rich and engaged intellectual community that is Drew.

One of the most exciting events for me this year was a Wabash Center sponsored gathering of a group of nine GDR alumni and alumnae who met June 1-2 on Drew’s campus, together with five Drew faculty members and two Wabash representatives, to talk to us about their experiences as teachers.  The discussion was not only extremely enlightening; it was also deeply inspiring; and we all left with a desire to continue the conversation, broadening it to include current students as well as the larger community of former students and Drew faculty members.  This fall, we hope to establish a Moodle site for the sharing of teaching resources and discussions, among other more ambitious plans.  Stay tuned!

Finally, I would like to share another moment of pleasurable Drew connecting.  A few weeks ago I attended an interdisciplinary conference in Denmark; unusually, I was not familiar with any of the other participants prior to the conference.  One of the first people I met and found particularly engaging was Hebrew Bible scholar Louis Stulman, Professor of Religion and Chair of the Department of Religious Studies and Philosophy at the University of Findlay in Ohio—and a Drew alumnus, as it happens!  I look forward to more such encounters with the diasporic community of Drew’s GDR, both encounters that are planned and ones that are unexpected….

All best wishes,

Virginia Burrus
Professor of Early Christianity
Chair of the Graduate Division of Religion