Opening Convocation for the Easter semester will be held at noon Friday, Jan. 16, in All Saints’ Chapel. Honorary degrees will be presented and new members will be inducted into the Order of Gownsmen. Eric Metaxas, author and television host, will give the Convocation address and will receive an honorary degree. Honorary degrees also will be presented during the Convocation to Janice Holder, the Rt. Rev. Whayne Hougland, Michael Leslie, and the Rt. Rev. Nicholas Thomas Wright.
Convocation will be streamed live for those who are unable to attend.
Janice M. Holder retired last August from the Tennessee Supreme Court after 24 years on the bench. Holder was the third woman to serve on the state’s high court and was the first woman to serve as chief justice (2008 to 2010). Following law school, she served as senior law clerk to the chief judge of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, worked as an attorney in private practice, and was elected circuit court judge in 1990. She was appointed to a vacancy on the Tennessee Supreme Court in 1996, and then won election and re-election. Holder made attorney well-being a priority at the state and national level and was an advocate for access to justice initiatives. Among numerous other awards, she was presented the 2013 Frank F. Drowota III Outstanding Judicial Service Award and the 2014 William M. Leech, Jr., Public Service Award by the Tennessee Bar Association. A Pennsylvania native, she graduated summa cum laude from the University of Pittsburgh and received her law degree from Duquesne University.
The Rt. Rev. Whayne M. Hougland Jr., T’98, is the ninth bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western Michigan. A Kentucky native from a Roman Catholic family, Hougland came to Western Michigan after serving as rector of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Salisbury, North Carolina, and as canon evangelist at Christ Church Cathedral in Lexington, Kentucky. During his eight years there, St. Luke’s became known locally as the “Church That Feeds People,” feeding hundreds of children through its BackPack Buddies program. He was active in the Diocese of North Carolina, serving on several teams there and as a clergy mentor for postulants and newly ordained priests. Hougland received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Kentucky. When he was called to Holy Orders following a corporate career, he graduated from the Master of Divinity program at Sewanee’s School of Theology and was ordained a priest in 1998. He is currently enrolled in the School’s Doctor of Ministry program.
Michael Leslie is a professor of English and dean of the British Studies at Oxford program for Rhodes College in Memphis. Before joining Rhodes in 1994, he served as senior lecturer in English literature at Sheffield University. He was educated at Leicester and Edinburgh Universities, held research fellowships at London and Sheffield Universities, and taught at Bedford College, University of London. He writes on Renaissance literature and on the relationships between literature and landscape and the visual and verbal arts in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. His teaching and research interests tend to combine literature with the visual arts, the history of designed landscapes, and the history of science. He has published books on Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene; Culture and Cultivation in Early Modern England; and Samuel Hartlib and Universal Reformation. Leslie has just published, as joint senior editor, a six-volume Cultural History of Gardens from the ancient world to the present day.
Eric Metaxas is a leading evangelical thinker, an award-winning author, a speaker, and a television and radio host. He is best known for two biographies, Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery and Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. He has also written humor, children’s books, and scripts for “VeggieTales.” His latest book, Miracles: What They Are, Why They Happen, and How They Can Change Your Life is a New York Times bestseller. Metaxas is the founder and host of the New York City-based event series, “Socrates in the City: Conversations on the Unexamined Life” and the co-host of the nationally syndicated weekly Sunday morning television program, “100 Huntley Street.” He was the keynote speaker at the 2012 National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C. The Indianapolis Star described Metaxas as “a Protestant version of William F. Buckley.” In 2011, he received the Canterbury Medal awarded by the Becket Fund for Religious Freedom. Metaxas was recently named as a senior fellow and lecturer at large for the King’s College in New York City.
The Rt. Rev. Nicholas Thomas Wright is professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at the School of Divinity, the University of St. Andrews, Scotland. He also served as the bishop of Durham, England, from 2003 to 2010. Widely regarded as one of the world’s foremost New Testament scholars, Wright has written more than 70 books, both academic and mainstream, including books of apologetics such as the best-selling Simply Christian. TIME Magazine has called him “one of the most formidable figures in the world of Christian thought.” Wright received degrees in Philosophy and Ancient History at University of Oxford: Exeter College and in Theology at University of Oxford: Wycliffe Hall, and earned an M.A. in 1975. He was awarded the D. Phil. degree from Oxford in 1981 and the D.D. in 2000. In 1981, he moved to Montreal, Canada, to teach New Testament Studies at McGill University, returning to the United Kingdom in 1986 as lecturer in New Testament at the University of Oxford and chaplain at Worcester College. He became canon theologian of Westminster Abbey in 2000.