School of Theology senior prizes announced

April 29, 2015


[School of Theology press release] On April 22, 2015, the School of Theology community gathered in the Chapel of the Apostles for a Eucharist in celebration of the upcoming commencement on May 8.

At the luncheon following the service, the Rt. Rev. J. Neil Alexander, dean of the School of Theology, accompanied by the University of the South’s Vice-Chancellor John M. McCardell Jr. and the School’s academic dean the Rev. Canon Jim Turrell, presented the School of Theology prizes to the seniors who exhibited the most outstanding academic achievement in the following categories:

The School of Theology Prize in Biblical Studies was awarded to Joseph Robert Woodfin, an M. Div. student from the Diocese of Tennessee. Woodfin was also awarded The School of Theology Prize in Historical Studies. During his time at Sewanee, Woodfin also received a Griffin Scholarship to study in the Holy Land, the Freeman Award for Merit in his middler year, and served as student body president.

“I am honored to have received these prizes from the School of Theology, and honored to have lived and worked with my wonderful classmates for the last three years,” said Woodfin. “I will always value the formation I have received in Sewanee, both academically and in the relationships that I will treasure throughout my ministry.”

The School of Theology Prize in Theology and Ethics was awarded to Sarah Leanne Miller, an M.Div. student from the Diocese of Alabama. Miller shared the Freeman Award for Merit with Woodfin during her middler year and served on the Task Force to Reimagine The Episcopal Church. Miller, reflecting on her time on the Mountain, stated, “I am deeply grateful to have spent three years being formed by a dedicated faculty and a loving community of peers.”

The School of Theology Prize in Practical Theology was awarded to Bonnie Gordy Underwood, an M.Div. student from the Diocese of Atlanta. Underwood also received a Griffin Scholarship and served as head sacristan at the seminary’s Chapel of the Apostles.

“This recognition was such a surprise!” exclaimed Underwood. “I am truly humbled and very grateful for this honor. My time here in Sewanee has been such a blessing and I will always be thankful for the opportunity to learn and grow within this community.”

The annual senior awards luncheon marks what is to be a bittersweet “leave-taking” process for the graduating students and the seminary community. “As we approach graduation, I reflect on how Sewanee is blessed with many outstanding students every year and how difficult it is for the faculty to determine just one recipient for the prizes,” explained Alexander. “This year the faculty acknowledged three equally deserving seminarians for academic achievement of the highest order.”