Baccalaureate

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Sunday, May 19, 2019, 4:00 p.m.*
Packer Memorial Church

 

Led by University Chaplain Lloyd Steffen, the Baccalaureate program includes outstanding choral music and a presentation or “farewell address” by a person of high distinction to graduating seniors.  The original Baccalaureate ceremony dates back to the 14th Century where it was held at Oxford University.

The Baccalaureate service lasts one hour and begins with a musical prelude slightly before 4:00 p.m.  Students representing different religious traditions participate in the program.  Past notes of appreciation received from parents, guests, and students indicate that the service has been a meaningful part of the Commencement activities. 

Lehigh University is honored that Professor Gary Dorrien, the Reinhold Niebuhr Professor of Social Ethics at Union Theological Seminary and Professor Religion at Columbia University, has accepted the University’s invitation to serve as the 2019 Baccalaureate speaker.  The Baccalaureate will be held at 4:00 on May 19, 2019 in Packer Memorial Church.

Described by Cornel West as “the preeminent social ethicist in North America today,” Professor Dorrien is a prolific writer, having penned 19 books and over 300 articles in the areas of religious history, cultural criticism, social ethics, philosophy of religion, political economics and political theory.  Among his recent books are Breaking White Supremacy: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Black Social Gospel and Imagining Democratic Socialism: Political Theology, Marxism, and Social Democracy, both published by Yale University Press in 2018. His volume, The New Abolition: W.E. B. Dubois and the Black Social Gospel, was presented the 2017 Grawemeyer Award in Religion, a $100,000 prize awarded annually to “honor and publicize creative and significant insights into the relationship between human beings and the divine. The award also recognizes ways in which this relationship may inspire or empower human beings to attain wholeness, integrity, or meaning, either individually or in community.”  About The New Abolition, theologian Emilie Townes remarked, “This is classic Dorrien—beautifully written, cogent, and moving. Dorrien is ever the careful historian, ethicist, and astute cultural critic.”

Called “a superstar interpreter of modern religious thought” by philosopher Frederick Ferré, Dorrien described himself in an interview as “a jock who began as a solidarity activist, became an Episcopal cleric at thirty, became an academic at thirty-five, and never quite settled on a field, so now I explore the intersections of too many fields.”

Dorrien, who has served as the Horace De Y. Lentz Visiting Professor at Harvard Divinity School and the Paul E. Raither Distinguished Scholar at Trinity College, has been a frequent speaker at colleges and universities both in the United States and abroad.  Prior to his appointment at Union/Columbia he served as the Parfet Distinguished Professor at Kalamazoo College, where he taught for 18 years and also served as Dean of Stetson Chapel and Director of the Liberal Arts Colloquium.

*The service is standing room only. In recent years, speakers have been placed on the patio in front of the church because of the crowd. To be assured a seat, please arrive early.

 

Lehigh University's Baccalaureate Speakers since 1991

 

2018
Dr. Stephen Prothero, C. Allyn and Elizabeth V. Russell Professor of Religion at Boston University
Lehigh News Article


Lloyd Steffen, Walead Mosaad, and Stephen Prothero 
Baccalaureate Service Address given by Dr. Stephen Prothero 
Recorded at Packer Memorial Church, May 20, 2018: AUDIO LINK

 

2017
Dr. John L. Esposito, Professor of Religion, Georgetown University
Lehigh News Article


Lloyd Steffen, John Esposito, and Danielle Stillman 
Baccalaureate Service Address given by Dr. John L. Espositio 
Recorded at Packer Memorial Church, May 21, 2017: 
AUDIO LINK.

 

2016
Dr. Charles Johnson, author and professor emeritus at the University of Washington
Lehigh News Article


Lloyd Steffen, Charles R. Johnson and Danielle Stillman 
Baccalaureate Service Address given by Dr. Charles R. Johnson 
Recorded at Packer Memorial Church, May 22, 2016: AUDIO LINK.  

 

2015  
Dr. Eric Foner, DeWitt Clinton Professor of History, Columbia University
Lehigh News Article


Eric Foner and Lloyd Steffen 
Baccalaureate Service Address given by Dr. Eric Foner 
Recorded at Packer Memorial Church, May 17, 2015: AUDIO LINK.  

 

2014
Professor Arvind Sharma, McGill University
Lehigh News Article


Arvind Sharma, Lloyd Steffen and Danielle Stillman

 

2013
James Carroll, author, journalist, historian
Lehigh News Article

James Carroll and Lloyd Steffen
James Carroll and Lloyd Steffen

 

2012
Jody Williams, 1997 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate
Lehigh News Article


Jody Williams and Lloyd Steffen
 

 

2011
Professor Rosemary Radford Ruether, Claremont University
Lehigh News Article

 

2010
Dr. Daniel Callahan, Hastings Center and Yale University

Lehigh News Article

 

2009
Professor Wendy Doniger, University of Chicago

Lehigh News Article

 

2008
Tenzin Robert Thurman, Columbia University

Lehigh News Article

 

2007
Professor Harvey Cox, Harvard Divinity School

 

2006
Rt. Rev. John Shelby Spong, Episcopal Diocese of Newark (ret.)

 

2005
Dean William A. Graham, Harvard Divinity School

 

2004
Professor Mark Jeurgensmeyer, U California, Santa Barbara

 

2003
Professor Martha Nussbaum, University of Chicago

 

2002
Professor Diana Eck, Harvard University

 

2001
Dr. Rebecca Chopp, Provost, Emory University

 

2000
Professor Tu Wei Ming, Harvard University

 

1999
Rev. Dr. Lloyd Ogilvie, Chaplain, U.S. Senate

 

1998
Professor David Tracy, University of Chicago

 

1997
Professor Peter Paris, Princeton Theological Seminary

 

1996
Professor Seyyed Hossein Nasr, George Washington University

 

1995
Rev. Will Willimon, University Chaplain, Duke University

 

1994
Professor Phyllis Trible, Union Theological Seminary

 

1993
Dean Robert C. Neville, Boston University

 

1992
Professor Cornel West, Princeton University

 

1991
Rev. James Forbes, Riverside Church, New York, NY