The University of the South's 2016-17 academic year comes to a close May 12, 13, and 14 with three ceremonies marking graduation weekend on the Mountain. Commencement and Baccalaureate ceremonies will be held for students from the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Letters, and the School of Theology. Honorary degrees will be presented during the School of Theology Commencement and during the Baccalaureate ceremony. Both Commencement ceremonies and the Baccalaureate service will be live-streamed.
Honorary degrees will be presented to the Rt. Rev. Harold William Godfrey, former bishop of Peru; the Rt. Rev. José Antonio McLoughlin, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Western North Carolina; and the Rt. Rev. David C. Rice, provisional bishop in the Episcopal Diocese of San Joaquin, who will preach during the School of Theology Commencement service Friday, May 12.
Astrophysicist Arnold Benz; Brad Gioia, C’76, headmaster at Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville; cancer researcher Ching-Hon Pui; and Emilie M. Townes, dean and Carpenter Professor of Womanist Ethics and Society at Vanderbilt University Divinity School will receive honorary degrees during the Baccalaureate service Saturday, May 13. Pui will give the Baccalaureate address. More information about each recipient is below.
On Sunday, May 14, a Convocation for Conferring of Degrees will be held at 10 a.m. in All Saints’ Chapel (tickets required) for the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Letters. More than 400 students are expected to graduate from the College, and 13 will receive master’s degrees from the School of Letters. A luncheon honoring the Class of 2017 graduates will follow.
Astrophysicist Arnold Benz is best known for his book The Future of the Universe, which brings science and faith into a constructive relation and has been published in 10 languages. His latest book is Astrophysics and Creation: Perceiving the Universe Through Science and Participation. Benz served as head of Radio Astronomy Group and professor of astrophysics at ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology), and as president of both the sun and heliosphere division of the International Astronomical Union and the Swiss Society for Astrophysics and Astronomy. He is active in popularizing science and has appeared on dozens of European radio and television broadcasts.
Brad Gioia, C’76, has served as headmaster at Montgomery Bell Academy in Nashville since 1994. He has overseen achievements in academics, athletics, the arts, and annual giving, as well as the growth of the school’s physical campus, including the addition of 150 acres in McMinnville, Tennessee, that is home to the school’s observatory. The school has exchange programs on five continents. Prior to his arrival at MBA, Gioia spent 18 years at the Darlington School in Rome, Georgia. He has recently been asked to serve with four other heads of school from around the world to form a charter school for the best and brightest students in Slovakia, as well as a new school in Moscow.
Ching-Hon Pui, M.D., is chair of the Department of Oncology at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and American Cancer Society Professor. He has been conducting research on childhood leukemia for more than three decades, and his findings and outreach have helped improve cure rates and quality of life for leukemia patients in the U.S. and around the world, especially in developing countries. Pui has been a dedicated mentor to scores of young clinical investigators. He has received numerous awards, including the 2010 Castle Connolly National Physician of the Year Award and the 2012 American Society of Clinical Oncology Pediatric Oncology Award.
Academic and clergywoman Emilie M. Townes is the dean and Carpenter Professor of Womanist Ethics and Society at Vanderbilt University Divinity School, becoming in 2013 the first African American to serve as the school’s dean. Townes was previously the first African American and first woman to serve as associate dean for academic affairs at Yale University Divinity School. In 2008, she became the first African American woman to serve as president of the American Academy of Religion. Townes is the author of several books on womanist spirituality and ethics, and continues her research on women and health in the African diaspora in Brazil and the U.S.