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GTU Celebrates 2019 Commencement

Authored by: 
GTU Communications

On Thursday, May 9, 2019, the Graduate Theological Union honored thirty-five graduates at its 2019 Commencement Exercises. The graduating class included fifteen scholars receiving the Doctor of Philosophy degree, two receiving the Doctor of Theology degree, and eighteen receiving the Master of Arts degree. The 2019 Commencement Exercises were held in the Le Conte Sanctuary at Zaytuna College. You can watch a replay of the video stream of the 2019 GTU Commencement, or review the list of graduates and their thesis or dissertation topics.

The graduates entered the sanctuary at 4 pm to Jean-Joseph Mouret’s Roundeau, accompanied by the San Francisco Brass Quintet. Following the processional, Imran Ghani (MA, Islamic Studies) offered the opening prayer, reciting the Surah Al-Fatihah in Arabic and then in English.

Rabbi Daniel L. Lehmann, celebrating his first commencement as president of the GTU, greeted scholars and attendees, expressed gratitude for the service of retiring faculty and staff, and offered remembrances for those from the GTU extended community who have passed. President Lehmann urged graduates to take with them the vision that is lived out at the GTU: “The world desperately needs what you have learned here. We need not only your creative and inspired scholarship, but also your understanding and celebration of religious diversity and the power of religious pluralism.”

Dean Uriah Kim addressed the gathering, celebrating the graduates for their hard work and commitment. Dean Kim then announced that Dr. Arthur G. Holder, professor of Christian Spirituality and former dean of the GTU was the recipient of the 2019 GTU Excellence in Teaching Award.

Dr. Gina Hens-Piazza, professor of Old Testament Studies and Joseph S. Alemany Endowed Chair at the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University, addressed the graduates on behalf of the GTU faculty, offering remarks on the theme of “What Every Graduate Should Know.” Welcoming the new graduates as colleagues, she urged them to be visionary leaders who seek to learn from their mistakes and to embrace creative possibilities even in tasks they might not choose.

Following the conferring of degrees, graduate Henry Kuo (PhD, Systematic and Philosophical Theology) spoke on behalf of the Class of 2019, anticipating the journey from “From Holy Hill to the World.” Kuo urged his fellow graduates to acts of “hope-making,” challenging despair and injustice not simply by critiquing the ruling paradigms, but by “doing the hard work of building a better community.”

Rhiana Wiggins, (MA, Buddhist Studies) offered words of benediction, encouraging her fellow graduates to move forward steeped in wisdom and compassion, and full of gratitude for all that is.  

On the evening prior to commencement, the members of the graduating class were honored at a reception hosted by the GTU Board of Trustees and held in the Dinner Board Room.  The scholarly work of each graduate in attendance was celebrated by a GTU faculty member with whom they’d worked closely. Sarah Kohles (PhD, Biblical Studies) shared on behalf of the graduating class.

Congratulations to all of our graduates!