Continuing a tradition of excellence, GDR students received a number of awards and distinctions this year. On April 24, 2012, GDR student Yong-Sup Song presented the results of his dissertation research in his lecture as the recipient of the Edward L. Long Peacemaking Fellowship for 2012. Song’s lecture, “Violence, Sin, and Narcissism in the Los Angeles Uprisings of 1992: African American and Korean American Conflict or White Racism?,” drew on a dissertation that Dr. Traci West described as offering a powerful “ethical analysis of the role of police violence and the mainstream mass media” in the Los Angeles riots. According to West, Song’s dissertation uses both the theoretical resources of Reinhold Niebuhr’s theo-ethical thinking and the psychoanalytic work of Heinz Kohut on narcissism to construct alternatives to human violence and racism.

Dr. Long, a student of Niebuhr while at Union Theological Seminary, congratulated Song on his important research. Formerly the James W. Pearsall Professor of Christian Ethics and Theology of Culture at Drew (1976–1985), Long is the author of a dozen books and more than sixty articles, among them The Christian Response to the Atomic Crisis (1950), War and Conscience in America (1968), Peace Thinking in a Warring World (1983), and Facing Terrorism: Responding as Christians (2004). Prior to his arrival at Drew in 1976, Long taught philosophy and ethics at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, was head of the religion department at Oberlin College, and was Eli Lilly Visiting Professor of Science, Theology, and Human Values at Purdue University.

The Edward L. Long Peacemaking Fellowship honors Dr. Long’s work in Christian social ethics by supporting scholarship on themes closely linked to Professor Long’s own work: church, state, and war; conscience and coercion; Christian responses to terror and violence; issues of peace
and justice. Drew University Ph.D. students in the Graduate Division of Religion who have completed their comprehensive exams and submitted their dissertation prospectus to their dissertation committee are eligible to apply. Interested applicants should submit a 300-word letter of application describing how their dissertation research relates to the purpose of the Fellowship. Applications can be submitted to Virginia Burrus (vburrus@drew.edu) by @@.

At the annual Dean’s reception in May, seven other students in the GDR received awards honoring their achievements. Two students received prizes to support travel for dissertation research. Matthew Riley (Religion and Society) was awarded the Edwards-Mercer Prize, endowed in 1998 by Juanita Edwards Mercer and her family to honor Mrs. Mercer’s mother, Alpha Duncan Edwards, and Robert Wafula (Biblical Studies) received the Priscilla Patten Benham Prize in Biblical Studies,  established in 2001 by Leary Anna Murphy in memory of Priscilla Patten Benham G’76.

The GDR’s two awards for outstanding academic achievement—the Bishop Edmund S. Janes Prize, awarded to a student in course work, and the James Pearsall Prize, given to a student who has completed the comprehensive exams with exceptional academic distinction—were awarded respectively to Leah Thomas (Religion and Society) and Holly Hillgardner (Theological and Philosophical Studies).

Karen Bray (Theological and Philosophical Studies) was given the James McClintock Prize, which is awarded annually to a Ph.D. student who has demonstrated exceptional ability, dedication, and promise as a teacher.

Finally, two students received prizes recognizing their accomplishments in their dissertations. Shanell Smith (Biblical Studies) was awarded the Rabbi Dr. Sheldon J. Weltman Prize for Excellence in Biblical Studies.  Endowed in 1992 by the estate of Rabbi Weltman G’80, G’90, the prize is awarded for the best thesis or dissertation in biblical studies. Asher Walden (Theological and Philosophical Studies) received the Helen LePage and William Hale Chamberlain Prize.  Established by Joan Chamberlain Engelsman, Class of 1977, and endowed in 2001 in her memory by her husband, Ralph G. Engelsman, it is awarded annually for the Ph.D. dissertation that is singularly distinguished by creative thought and excellent prose style.

The GDR extends its congratulations to all of this year’s award recipients.

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