Episcopal Divinity School awards 2 honorary degrees

May 18, 2012

[Episcopal Divinity School] On a beautiful sun filled day, Episcopal Divinity School (EDS) celebrated the graduation of 28 students during its 2012 commencement ceremony, which took place on Thursday, May 17, at the First Church in Cambridge, Congregational. At the ceremony EDS also presented honorary doctor of divinity degrees to Dr. Robert W. Radke and Dr. Bruce B. Lawrence. The commencement address was delivered by Dr. Robert W. Radtke.

In his speech to graduates, and those gathered to celebrate their achievement, Radtke shared his own path that took him from a potential career in art history to the work that he does today, as president of Episcopal Relief & Development.  Sharing his awe of an early painting by Picasso he shared that “You literally have to master painting inside the lines before you can paint outside them with insight and innovation.”

Since 2005, Dr. Robert W. Radtke has served as president of Episcopal Relief & Development, the international relief and development agency of the Episcopal Church. In this role, he leads and oversees several major efforts including extensive Church engagement programs, fundraising, board development and international and domestic program evaluation and monitoring. Rob holds degrees (AB) from Columbia College of Columbia University and a doctorate (DPhil) from New College of the University of Oxford, which he attended as a Rhodes Scholar.

Dr. Bruce B. Lawrence, EDS ’67, also received an honorary degree during commencement. Lawrence is the Marcus Family Professor of the Humanities, Emeritus, and Professor of Islamic Studies at Duke University. Professor Lawrence has written sixteen books, some authored, others co-authored, and still others edited or coedited. One of them, The Qur’an-A Biography, is part of a series on books that changed the world, which The Independent called “an exceptionally illuminating and balanced narrative” and Publishers Weekly called “graceful, meditative, and unique.” Other books include Defenders of God: The Fundamentalist Revolt Against the Modern Age, Shattering the Myth: Islam Beyond Violence, New Faiths, Old Fears, and On Violence: A Reader. He holds degrees from (AB) Princeton and (PhD) Yale, as well as from Episcopal Divinity School.

Before commencement, Lawrence shared the following thoughts for graduating students from EDS: “Every challenge is also an opportunity, every crisis a turning point toward a new direction for one’s self and humankind.  Each seminarian should find a way, and forage a trail, beyond media diatribes about Islam and Muslims. They should read the Qur’an, dance with Rumi, paint with M.F. Husain, and pray for an expanded horizon open to all Abraham’s offspring.”

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