Lehigh University
Lehigh Universiy

You are here


Sunday, May 21, 2017, 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.

During the 2017 Baccalaureate ceremony, Dr. John L. Esposito, professor of Religion and International Affairs and of Islamic Studies at Georgetown University, will offer the Baccalaureate Address.  Dr. Esposito is a premiere scholar of Islam, author of forty-five books, which have been translated into more than thirty-five languages, and he has done as much as anyone to promote understanding between Christians and Muslims.  He is the founding director of the Alaweed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding in the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown.

Professor Esposito is a past president of the American Academy of Religion as well as of the Middle East Studies Association of North America.  He has served as a consultant to the U.S. Department of State and has been an ambassador for the UN's Alliance of Civilizations.  Recipient of many honors, Professor Esposito has been sought out for his insightful commentary by such outlets as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post and major network and cable news programs.  He received Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service Outstanding Teacher Award and also the University Career Research Achievement Award. 

Lehigh News Article - John L. Esposito

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.

*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:

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

1992: Professor Cornel West, Princeton University

1993: Dean Robert C. Neville, Boston University

1994: Professor Phyllis Trible, Union Theological Seminary

1995: Rev. Will Willimon, University Chaplain, Duke University

1996: Professor Seyyed Hossein Nasr, George Washington University

1997: Professor Peter Paris, Princeton Theological Seminary

1998: Professor David Tracy, University of Chicago

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

2000: Professor Tu Wei Ming, Harvard University

2001: Dr. Rebecca Chopp, Provost, Emory University

2002: Professor Diana Eck, Harvard University

2003: Professor Martha Nussbaum, University of Chicago

2004: Professor Mark Jeurgensmeyer, U California, Santa Barbara

2005: Dean William A. Graham, Harvard Divinity School

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

2007: Professor Harvey Cox, Harvard Divinity School

2008: Tenzin Robert Thurman, Columbia University

2009: Professor Wendy Doniger, University of Chicago

2010: Dr. Daniel Callahan, Hastings Center and Yale University

2011: Professor Rosemary Radford Ruether, Claremont University

2012: Jody Williams, 1997 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

2013: James Carroll, author, journalist, historian

2014: Professor Arvind Sharma, McGill University

2015:  Dr. Eric Foner, DeWitt Clinton Professor of History, Columbia University

2016:  Dr. Charles Johnson, author and professor emeritus at the University of Washington

2017: Dr. John L. Esposito, Professor of Religion, Georgetown University


Baccalaureate 2012
Jody Williams and Lloyd Steffen


James Carroll and Lloyd Steffen
Baccalaureate 2013
Jame Carroll and Lloyd Steffen


Baccalaureate 2014
Arvind Sharma, Lloyd Steffen and Danielle Stillman


Baccalaureate 2015
Eric Foner and Lloyd Steffen 
The 2015 Baccalaureate Service Address given by Baccalaureate Speaker, Dr. Eric Foner 
recorded at Packer Memorial Church, May 17, 2015 is available at this AUDIO LINK.  


Baccalaureate 2016
Lloyd Steffen, Charles R. Johnson and Danielle Stillman 
The 2016 Baccalaureate Service Address given by Baccalaureate Speaker, Dr. Charles R. Johnson 
recorded at Packer Memorial Church, May 22, 2016 is available at this AUDIO LINK.  


Baccalaureate 2017
Lloyd Steffen, John Esposito, and Danielle Stillman 
The 2017 Baccalaureate Service Address given by Baccalaureate Speaker, Dr. John L. Espositio
recorded at Packer Memorial Church, May 21, 2017 is available at this