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All But Dissertation: Interview with Robert Norris

All But Dissertation Status and Why Student Rev. Robert Norris Chose the GTF to Finish his Ph.D.

Learn more about the GTF’s special “All But Dissertation” Doctor of Philosophy Degree Completion Program.


Robert Norris, I’m a Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of New York. I’m currently, I’m a pastor of a moderate church [with] about 1,000 families in Westchester County; prior to that it was 13 years as pastor in an inner-city parish in the Bronx.

I studied in Rome and did my seminary training in Rome, and [it] was there that I started my studies in Scripture. Then I went back, was assigned to different parishes, continued the study of Scripture at Fordham University, [and] was able to complete the coursework and the comprehensives but not the dissertation. I always thought that I’d want to come back to that. In the meantime, I had been teaching theology and [studying] for a master’s degree in religious education, and when I finished my 13 years in the Bronx, I was asked for and received a sabbatical, [which] would be an opportunity to look into how I could complete this degree. I went back to Fordham but that was unsuccessful because it would have entailed much more, including redoing the comprehensives, redoing the language exams.

I do remember speaking to [Dr.] Ewert Cousins [of Fordham and Teilhard de Chardin Professor Emeritus at the GTF]; he was one of the people who helped me with the comprehensives at Fordham, and I knew his wife, and so it was at their home and he had mentioned the [Graduate Theological] Foundation. So when the time came to consider the sabbatical, I thought this would be a wonderful opportunity because I did all the coursework, and I really wanted the opportunity to write the dissertation.

I was very pleased when I looked online and saw your description of this program for those who are “ABD” and [thought] his would be a real opportunity to do so. And having a period of sabbatical to initiate that program really made sense.

(See more interviews with GTF students and alumni from the “All But Dissertation” Ph.D. Degree Completion Program.)

One Response to All But Dissertation: Interview with Robert Norris

  • David B. Couturier, OFM Cap., PhD, DMin. says:

    I worked with Fr. Bob Norris several years ago on a program for the priests of the Archdiocese of New York. I was impressed by his dedication to ministry and his zeal for biblical scholarship. He is a great addition to the GTF scholarly community. His story is the reason why the GTF’s model of tutorial learning and scholarly inquiry is so vital.
    Welcome, Bob.

    David B. Couturier, OFM. Cap., PhD, DMin.
    Dean R. Hoge Professor of Pastoral Planning and Church Management