(Alexandria, Va.) - Honorary doctorates were conferred upon three distinguished recipients at Virginia Theological Seminary’s annual Academic Convocation this evening. The Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, was awarded to Joan R. Gunderson, Ph.D. and Willie James Jennings, Ph.D. The Doctor in Divinity, honoris causa degree, was awarded to the Rt. Rev. June Osborne.
"We are delighted and honored that these honorary degrees have been accepted. These degree recipients are making a difference to the Church," said the Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Ph.D., dean and president of Virginia Theological Seminary. "A glorious way to end our day of Alumni Convocation."
Joan R. Gundersen, Ph.D. is immediate past president of the Episcopal Women's History Project, the past president and treasurer of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh, and a founding member of Via Media USA. She has published extensively on the history of the church in Virginia, collaborating with Edward Bond on a history of the Diocese of Virginia, The Episcopal Church in Virginia, 1607-2007. It won a Polly Bond award for writing. Her 1972 Ph.D. dissertation, published as a book in 1989, is The Anglican Ministry in Virginia, 1723-1776: A Study of a Social Class. Click here for the full citation.
Willie James Jennings, Ph.D. is the associate professor of Systematic Theology and Africana Studies at Yale Divinity School. Professor Jennings is known for his contributions on liberation theologies, cultural identities, and theological anthropology. An ordained Baptist minister, his book, The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race has already become a classic, and he is the author of dozens of essays that appear in scholarly and popular presses. Click here for the full citation.
The Rt. Rev. June Osborne is the Bishop of Llandaff, Church of Wales. A ground-breaking figure in the Church of England, June Osborne was the first female Dean to be appointed to a medieval cathedral -- Salisbury Cathedral -- having served as its Canon Treasurer for nearly ten years. One of the first women to be ordained as a priest in England in 1994, she served for many years on General Synod’s Standing Committee, including sitting on the Panel of Chairs. Click here for the full citation.
Founded in 1823 as a beacon of hope in a country new and finding its way, Virginia Theological Seminary is the flagship Seminary of the Episcopal Church. One of our first benefactors was Francis Scott Key whose poem provides the text for our national anthem. In the 191 years since being established, VTS has led the way in forming leaders of the Episcopal Church, including: the Most Rev. John E. Hines (VTS 1933, D.D. 1946), former presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church; the Rt. Rev. John T. Walker (VTS 1954, D.D. 1978), the first African-American bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington; and theologian, author and lay preacher Ms. Verna J. Dozier (VTS D.D. 1978). Serving the worldwide Anglican Communion, Virginia Theological Seminary educates approximately 25% of those being ordained who received residential theological education. Visit us online at www.vts.edu.