Monday, May 4, 2020

Duke Divinity School Dean L. Gregory Jones announced the student recipients of several academic awards for the 2019-20 academic year during an online Closing Convocation on May 4.  

The school’s Baccalaureate previously scheduled for May 9 and Duke University Commencement set for May 10 have been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Rev. Dr. Warren Smith, associate professor of historical theology at the Divinity School, preached the sermon at the school’s 94th Closing Convocation with Jones, the Ruth W. and A. Morris Jr. Distinguished Professor Theology and Christian Ministry, and Chaplain Meghan Benson as the presiding ministers.

“One of the great joys of Closing Convocation is the time to celebrate the achievements of the past academic year, and especially the achievements of all those who are graduating from the various degree programs at Duke Divinity School,” Jones said. “I would invite all of us who are gathered to extend a virtual handclap to the Class of 2020.”

The academic awards and this year's recipients were:

  • Award for Excellence in Bible — Timothy Stephen Holm and Caleb Neal Punt
  • Frederick Buechner Writing Award — Shelley Catherine Leazer
  • Richard P. Heitzenrater Award for Excellence in History — Jennifer Young Tu
  • Hoyt Hickman Award for Excellence in Liturgics — Hannah Marie Sipes
  • Jameson Jones Preaching Award  — Camille Arianna Loomis and Orlander Ray Thomas
  • McMurry Richey Awards — Claire Elizabeth Latimer-Dennis and Saul Gastelum Flores (Field Education), Howard Cha Young Kim (Missions), and Orlander Ray Thomas  (Student Pastor).
  • Julian Abele Award for Duke University Graduate Student of the Year  — Jakaela Davis and Kirsten Simmons (also Duke Medical School).

Valerie Cooper, associate professor of Religion and Society and Black Church Studies at the Divinity School, also received the Julian Abele Graduate Mentor of the Year Award. This award goes to a Duke University faculty, staff, or administrator who has gone above and beyond in providing support and/or mentoring to black graduate and/or professional students individually and/or collectively via their organizations at Duke.

Closing Convocation was live streamed on the Duke Divinity School YouTube channel from Goodson Chapel. Watch a recording.