Union Theological Seminary celebrated its 172nd Commencement on Friday, May 16. One hundred and four students were awarded degrees, making it Union's largest graduating class since 1992. Fifty-nine students received Master of Divinity degrees; 24 were awarded Master of Arts degrees; 11 earned Master in Sacred Theology degrees; four were awarded Ph.D.s, and another six received degrees presented in cooperation with neighboring Columbia University. Approximately 600 guests attended the ceremony that was held in the Seminary's James Memorial Chapel, located in the Morningside Heights section of Manhattan.
"The diversity of this graduating class highlights all the options seminarians have at Union," said a May 19 news release from Union. "Slightly more than a third of the students are going into some type of church-related work, ranging from pastoral services to chaplaincies, and another 28 percent are headed into the workforce with most opting to do work that is related to social justice or lay ministry. Thirty percent of those who graduated are going on to work on higher degrees, the majority pursing doctoral degrees, and most of these have been accepted by their first choice."
This was the last commencement ceremony presided over by Union's 15th president, Joseph C. Hough, Jr., who will retire on July 1. Hough, widely credited with saving Union when it was experiencing financial difficulties during the first half of his nine-year presidency, now leaves a seminary that is on solid academic and financial ground.
Hough told the students that they are "commissioned to be light bearers to the world, and never has the world needed light more desperately." He said they represent hope for the future as they take their places in positions of responsibility.
"As the class of 2008 exemplifies, Union is a place that redefines ministry in a way that allows all to fulfill their calls in many different ways that might not have been on the radar before," says Alain Silverio, associate dean of academic affairs at Union.
A list of the graduates and additional details are available here.
Union Theological Seminary, founded in 1836, is an independent, ecumenical graduate school of theology with the mission to educate men and women for ministries in the Christian faith, service in contemporary society, and study of the great issues of our time.