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2018 Divinity School Presentation of Academic Awards

Kelsey

Founder’s Medalist - Kelsey Laine Davis

The Founder’s Medal for first honors in the Divinity School’s Class of 2018 is Kelsey Laine Davis

Vanderbilt University recognized the top-graduating student from each of its undergraduate and professional schools on Friday, May 11, during annual Commencement ceremonies. Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos presented the scholars with Founder’s Medals in honor of the university’s founder Cornelius Vanderbilt, a tradition dating back to 1877.

Academic Achievement Award - Armando Guerrero Estrada

The 2018 Academic Achievement Award is presented to Armando Guerrero Estrada. 

With the Founder’s Medal having been presented to a candidate in the master of theological studies program, The Divinity School’s Academic Achievement Award is conferred upon the degree candidate who has achieved a high standard of scholarship while fulfilling the requirements for the master of divinity degree.

The Umphrey Lee Dean's Award - Margaret Anne Ernst

The 2018 Umphrey Lee Dean's Award is presented to Margaret Anne Ernst.

The Umphrey Lee Dean’s Awardwas established by the Class of 1940, in memory of Umphrey Lee—who served as dean of Vanderbilt Divinity School from 1936 to 1939. The award is presented to the student who, in the judgment of our dean, Emilie M. Townesrepresents the vision and the mission of our Divinity School.

The Florence Conwell Prize - Dawn Marie Bennett

The professors of homiletics have chosen Dawn Marie Bennett as the 2018 recipient of the Florence Conwell Prize.

The Florence Conwell Prize - established as a memorial to Ms. Conwell, an assistant librarian for the School of Religion- is awarded to the degree candidate who has distinguished oneself by outstanding work in the discipline of preaching.

The St. James Academy Award - Anita Laurel Peebles

The 2018 St. James Academy Award is presented to Anita Laurel Peebles.

The Saint James Academy Award was established in 1984 by the Academy during the presidency of Jacob Christian Martinson, Jr., who earned the doctorate of divinity in 1972 from Vanderbilt, and who served as president of High Point University in North Carolina. The award is presented to the degree candidate, who in the judgment of the Homiletics faculty has composed the most outstanding sermon.

The W. Kendrick Grobel Award - Sharon Denise Dively

The Biblical studies faculty select Sharon Denise Dively as the recipient of the 2018 Grobel Award.

The W. Kendrick Grobel Awardnamed in honor of Professor Grobel who taught New Testament and Biblical theology from 1947 until 1965, is presented to the degree candidate who has demonstrated outstanding achievement in Biblical studies.

The J.D. Owen Prize - Margaret Drew Bongiovanni and Armando Guerrero Estrada

The 2018 recipients of the J.D. Owen Prize are Margaret Drew Bongiovanni and Armando Guerrero Estrada.

The J.D. Owen Prize, endowed in 1875 by the Reverend J.D. Owen of Lebanon, Tennessee, is awarded to the degree candidate who has distinguished oneself through outstanding course work in a Biblical field.

The Luke-Acts Prize - Julia Jean Liden

The recipient of the 2018 Luke-Acts Prize is Julia Jean Liden.

The Luke-Acts Prize—established as a memorial to Mr. and Mrs. Andrew Jacob Mattill of Saint Joseph, Missouri, by members of their family—is awarded to students in the professional and graduate programs, who—in the judgment of the professors of New Testament—write the most significant paper on an aspect of Luke-Acts.

The John Olin Knott Award - James Avery Alexander, Jr.; Ryan Kim, and Laura Ann Simpson

The 2018 John Olin Knott Award is presented to James Avery Alexander, Jr.; Ryan Kim, and Laura Ann Simpson.

The John Olin Knott Award was endowed by Dr. Knott, a Biblical scholar from the nineteenth century who encouraged students “to increase and to disseminate their knowledge of Scripture.” The award is presented to three students who have distinguished themselves by their scholarly writing in Biblical studies.

The Elliott F. Shepard Prize - Danielle Marie Oxnam

The faculty select Danielle Marie Oxnam as the 2018 recipient of the Shepard Prize.

The Elliott F. Shepard Prize in church history has been endowed by the four children of Mr. Shepard:Ms. William Jay Schlieffelin, Ms. Shepard Fabbri, Ms. D.H. Morris, and Mr. Elliott Shepard.

The prize is awarded to the degree candidate who, in the judgment of the history faculty, has performed the most outstanding work in the discipline of church history.

The Wilbur F. Tillett Prize - Kelsey Laine Davis and Kevin Michael Clavin

The 2018 Wilbur F. Tillett Prize is presented to Kelsey Laine Davis and Kevin Michael Clavin for accomplishments in the study of ethics. 

The Wilbur F. Tillett Prize was established by friends of Professor Tillett, who served as a member of the theology faculty and as dean of the Divinity School from 1886 to 1919. The prize is awarded to the degree candidates who have distinguished themselves in the study of theology or ethics.

The Nella May Overby Memorial Prize - Kelsey Laine Davis

The 2018 recipient of the Overby Memorial Prize for honors in field education is Kelsey Laine Davis

The Nella May Overby Memorial Award was endowed in 1993 by the nieces and nephews of Nella May Overby in recognition of her dedication to community service. The award is presented to the degree candidate who has received the grade of Honors in field education and who, in the judgment of the field education faculty, or has enriched the life of a congregation orhas offered significant service through a community agency.

The William A. Newcomb Prize - Mary Pretorius Murphy

The 2018 Newcomb Prize is awarded to Mary Pretorius Murphy.

The William A. Newcomb Prizeestablished in 1987 by an alumnus of the Divinity School—in memory of his grandfather—is awarded to the student, who in the judgment of the faculty, exemplifies Vanderbilt University Divinity School’s paradigm of the minister as theologian and who has earned the grade of Honors for one’s master of divinity degree project.

The Frederick Buechner Award for Excellence in Writing - Darren Randall Mayberry Wright

The Frederick Buechner Award for Excellence in Writing is presented to: Darren Randall Mayberry Wright.

In his vocation spanning seven decades, American theologian and writer Frederick Buechner continues to explore the intersections and collisions of faith and culture. To honor his contributions to the institutions of religion and education, the Buechner Center has established two awards in his name. 

Pastor Wright, who serves as youth pastor at Belmont United Methodist Church, was unable to attend the service because of a prior commitment with his congregation. We congratulate him and accepted the award on his behalf.

The Frederick Buechner Prize for the Master of Theological Studies Thesis - Laura Ann Simmons

The second Buechner Award is presented to the student who received the highest marks for a thesis that embodies the learning goals of the master of theological studies curriculum. For her thesis titled, “The American Religion of Punishment: A Theological Exploration of the Carceral Cosmos,” the Frederick Buechner Award is presented to:
Laura Ann Simmons.

The Liston O. Mills Award - Anna Keller Hawkins and Deborah Adedoyin Adewola

The recipients of the 2018 Liston O. Mills Award are Anna Keller Hawkins and Deborah Adedoyin Adewola

The Liston O. Mills Award celebrates the memory of Professor Mills who served as the Oberlin Alumni Professor of Pastoral Theology and Counseling. Professor Mills is remembered for his commitment to reconciling the curricular division between “academic theology” and “practical theology” and for designing an integrative curriculum for the study of religion and personality. The award is presented to a degree candidate for academic distinction in pastoral theology and the study of religion, psychology, and culture.

The Liston O. Mills Award - Anna Keller Hawkins and Deborah Adedoyin Adewola

The recipients of the 2018 Liston O. Mills Award are Anna Keller Hawkins and Deborah Adedoyin Adewola

The Liston O. Mills Award celebrates the memory of Professor Mills who served as the Oberlin Alumni Professor of Pastoral Theology and Counseling. Professor Mills is remembered for his commitment to reconciling the curricular division between “academic theology” and “practical theology” and for designing an integrative curriculum for the study of religion and personality. The award is presented to a degree candidate for academic distinction in pastoral theology and the study of religion, psychology, and culture.

The Disciples Divinity House Scholar Award - Evan Regis Bunch and Daniel Clayton Lyvers

The 2018 Disciples Divinity House Scholar Award for academic distinction by students representing the Christian Church, Disciples of Christ is awarded to Evan Regis Bunch and Daniel Clayton Lyvers.

The Robert Lewis Butler Award - Luther Young, Jr.

The 2018 Robert Lewis Butler Award for service and ministry in the African-American church is awarded to Luther Young, Jr. 

The Robert Lewis Butler Award, endowed in 2007 in memory of Reverend Butler, an alumnus of the Graduate School of Theology of Oberlin College, is presented to the second-  or  third-year student, who is preparing for ministry in the African American church and who, in the judgment of the dean, supports the Divinity School’s commitment to intentional diversity.

The Bishop Holland Nimmons McTyeire Award - Anna Keller Hawkins

The executive committee of the United Methodist Student Association select Anna Keller Hawkins as the 2018 recipient of the McTyeire Award.

In 1873, Holland Nimmons McTyeire, Bishop of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, secured funding from Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt to establish a Methodist university "of the highest order that would offer literary, scientific, theological, and professional studies." Vanderbilt University was then founded as a Southern institution with the intention to reunite a country that had become fractured by the Civil War.

Bishop McTyeire would serve as the first president of Vanderbilt University’s Board of Trust, and he declared the Biblical department to be a Schola Prophetarum a School of the Prophets.

In McTyeire’s memory, the United Methodist Student Association of Vanderbilt Divinity School presents an award to the students who best exemplify “the Wesleyan ideals of Christian living through servant leadership.”

The Bettye R. Ford Graduate Student Service Award - Chelsea Yarborough

The students in the graduate department of religion select Chelsea Yarborough as the recipient of the 2018 service award.

The Bettye R. Ford Graduate Student Service Award is presented each year to a student in the graduate department of religion in memory of Bettye Ford who was the cornerstone of our graduate department for twenty-nine years—from 1966 until her death in 1995. With her remarkable grace and humor, she selflessly helped faculty and students survive the challenges of academic administration. As much as we depended on her, she became a good friend of the students, faculty, and staff, and she is profoundly missed by those who benefited from her experience and wisdom.

Divinity Student Government Association Service Awards - Armando Guerrero Estrada and Sha’Tika Brown

Each year the Student Government Association of Vanderbilt Divinity School recognizes a student and  a member of the administration, faculty, or staff for their services to the Divinity School community.

The recipients of the 2018 community service awards are: 

  • Armando Guerrero Estrada, student
  • Sha’Tika Brown, program and events coordinator