The 2017 Convocation and Graduation events, held May 4th and 5th, were a lovely celebration of the academic achievements of the Class of 2017. The Day of Convocation activities began at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday May 4th, with a Presidential Greeting from Dr. Kendra Clayton, and a continental breakfast for all graduates and their friends and family. Students then moved into small break out groups to share with one another short prepared presentations describing the nature of the work they did during their time at the GTF.
The GTF Day of Convocation was a bringing together of our diverse student body in a celebration of each graduate’s academic achievements and professional contributions to the betterment of the world community. It was an opportunity for students to gain an understanding and appreciation of each other’s interests, research and work, and to connect with other graduates, GTF faculty and administrators. Most importantly, it was a day for our graduates to be recognized and honored for their involvement in and commitment to ministry and social service. Break out groups were heterogeneous by design and graduates heard from students across the wide range of GTF degree programs and religious backgrounds.
The presentation of the GTF Graduation Stoles took place after graduates returned from their lunch break. The Fellowship and Prize winning students delivered short presentations to the entire graduating class, followed by the presentation of the graduation stoles. Given the diversity of religious, ethnic and national backgrounds represented by the graduating class, as evidenced in the diverse garments worn during the graduation ceremony, the GTF Stole serves as a visual representation of the connectedness of the group.
From 4:00-5:00 on Thursday afternoon, following the conclusion of the Day of Convocation activities, there was an Open House hosted at the Dodge House, GTF administrative building. All Residential Institutes and the majority of doctoral defenses take place at the Dodge House in Mishawaka, Indiana, an historic Victorian structure built in 1889 and now on the National Register of Historic Places.
Thursday evening the Lord Robert Runcie Convocation Lecture was held from 7:00-8:00 with a dessert reception following. The lecture was given by the Rev. Canon Dr. Hugh Page, Professor of Theology and Africana Studies, and Vice President, Associate Provost, and Dean of the First Year of Studies at the University of Notre Dame, and Fellow and The Benjamin E. Mays Professor of Scripture and Applied Ministries at the GTF. Click here to view the video of the lecture.
The Graduation ceremony began at 10:30 a.m., Friday, May 5th. Approximately half of the graduating class of over 90 were able to participate in the graduation ceremony, a ceremony celebrating the commitment of this graduating class to education and ministry in service to humanity. The graduation address was delivered by Imam Dr. Omar Shahin, Fellow, Ibn Taymiyya Professor of Islamic Law and Dean of the Islamic Studies Department. Dr. Shahin’s address was a call for education as the way to find peace in this fractured world in which we live. Following is a quote form Dr. Shahin’s address which captures the spirit of his message.
“Education is the only response to the ignorance that surrounds us. Ignorance plus poverty leads to crime . . . plus wealth, leads to corruption . . . plus freedom, leads to chaos . . . plus power, leads to dictatorship . . . plus religion, leads to terrorism. The solution is not war but education.”
The Rev. Canon Dr. Hugh Page, Professor of Theology and Africana Studies, and Vice President, Associate Provost, and Dean of the First Year of Studies at the University of Notre Dame, and Fellow and The Benjamin E. Mays Professor of Scripture and Applied Ministries at the GTF, was awarded the Krister Standahl Prize in Biblical Studies in recognition of his outstanding contributions to biblical research through his prolific scholarly writings and in celebration of his published work in Hebrew poetry.
Dr. Vivian Dettbarn-Slaughter, Fellow, Professor of Sacred Music and Graduate Music Advisor was awarded the Doctor of Fine Arts, honoris causa, in recognition of her years of service to the GTF as Professor of Sacred Music and Graduate Music Advisor, and in honor of her life-long work in Sacred Music and Music Education.