higginsAcademic study at Drew is rigorous, to put it mildly.  Yet every year some students surpass the goals set for them and merit special recognition.  This year the GDR community gathered in the Ehinger Center on May 8, 2013, for the traditional Dean’s Reception, to celebrate the academic year’s end and to honor the achievements of its students.  Drinks and a lovely spread of hors d’oeuvres were enjoyed, and after some initial remarks on the (philosophically weighty!) topic of exemplarity, GDR Chair Virginia Burrus presented the prizes.

With a GPA of over 4.0, second year Theological and Philosophical Studies student Elijah Pruitt-Davis took home the Bishop Edmund S. Janes Prize for Outstanding Academic Achievement.  Leah Thomas, who has served as Teaching Assistant for three different courses in three different disciplines, was given the James McClintock Prize for the Outstanding Student-Teacher in recognition of her exceptional ability, dedication and promise as a teacher.  And Sara Rosenau’s stellar performance on her comprehensive exams—all QDs!—earned her the James Pearsall Prize for Outstanding Academic Achievement, awarded to a Ph.D. student who has completed the comprehensive exams with exceptional academic distinction.

Two fortunate students, both in Liturgical Studies, won awards to support their research-related travel expenses.  Nam Joong Kim received the Priscilla Patten Benham Prize in Biblical Studies, established in 2001 by former faculty secretary Leary Anna Murphy in memory of Priscilla Patten Benham (G’76), to support travel for dissertation research. Nam Joong’s research will take him to Brooklyn and Korea to interview pastors known for their transformative, anti-racist preaching. Suzanne Duchesne received the Edwards-Mercer Prize, endowed in 1998 by Juanita Edwards Mercer and her family to honor Mrs. Mercer’s mother, Alpha Duncan Edwards, also supporting travel for dissertation research.  Suzanne’s research will take her to Oklahoma to visit archives housing documents pertaining to Native American church missions.

This year’s graduates, in keeping with Drew tradition, wrote provocative, insightful, and innovative dissertations.  Needless to say, this presents quite a challenge to the faculty, who must determine which graduate has been extra-extraordinary.  Perhaps that is why both dissertation-related awards were shared by two graduates! Luke Higgins and Jill Krebs were the recipients of the Helen LePage and William Hale Chamberlain Prize.  This prize was established by Joan Chamberlain Engelsman (G’77) 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.  Linda Dietch and Donna Laird received the Rabbi Dr. Sheldon J. Weltman Prize for Excellence in Biblical Studies, endowed in 1992 by the estate of Rabbi Weltman (G’80, ’90) and awarded for the best thesis or dissertation in Biblical Studies.

Finally, the Graduate Division of Religion Student Association gave two prizes, co-president Christy Cobb presenting these prizes on behalf of the GDRSA.  The Karen McCarthy Brown Teaching Award went to Professor Otto Maduro, and happily the GDRSA officers had been able to present this award to Professor Maduro in person at his retirement celebration on May 3rd.  The Maxine Beach Service Award went to Theological School librarian Ernie Rubinstein.

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