Departmental News

Sycamore Hall

A letter from Constance Furey, Chair of the Religious Studies Department

Greetings from Sycamore Hall! I write with plenty of news to share, about wonderful students, exciting research, significant transitions—and a special request to consider contributing to the Todd Sullivan Fund, to support the research of our intrepid graduate students.

First, the transitions. We bid farewell this year to several important members of the department. Connie May, who kept us all calm and organized during her five years as the departmental secretary, left to join her husband, who has a new job in Fort Wayne. Abby Gitlitz, our unflappable events coordinator, now directs the Bloomington Creative Glass Center, which she founded. In May, we celebrated the graduation of another terrific class of undergraduate majors and minors, as well as two MA’s and one PhD student. Shaul Magid, the Schottenstein Professor of Jewish Studies and Religious Studies has accepted a position at Dartmouth, and it is with sadness that we announce the death of Gerald Larson, an emeritus professor who passed away in April. The contributions of both of these wonderful professors are highlighted in separate columns.

Meanwhile, the department continues to grow. Welcome additions include Sonya Spencer, who just joined us as a Departmental Secretary; our new Communications and Events Coordinator, Martha Michelson, an accomplished graphic designer who is responsible for the new colors in our hallways and the new look of our website and publicity materials; and Laura Carlson Hasler, a graduate of Yale University and author of a forthcoming book on empire, archives, trauma, and writing in the ancient world. Hasler joins us as the Alvin H. Rosenfeld Professor of Hebrew Bible. Happily Jim Ackerman, who has decamped for San Diego, was able to join us for one of the Hebrew Bible candidate lectures. This new position ensures that his legacy lives on.

Several awards and promotions confirm the quality of the research and teaching mission at the heart of everything we do. Winni Sullivan was named a Provost Professor. Amali Ibrahim was awarded tenure. Jeremy Schott and Rebecca Manring received promotions to the rank of Full Professor. In December, the Department was awarded a one million dollar, five year grant for the “Being Human” project, and now houses the newly founded Center for Religion and the Human.

Finally, our graduate students do much with little. They teach, they learn new languages, they participate in challenging seminars, they do independent research, they write impressive dissertations, and they secure grants, fellowships and tenure track jobs. They do all this while being supported by stipends lower than those at almost every peer institution. This year it has become clear to me that our most pressing financial need is for additional funds to support research trips and conference travel for these students. Any amount you are able to give to the Todd Sullivan Fund, established to honor the memory of a beloved graduate student, will ensure that students can worry less about money and more about the important work they are doing. Many thanks to those of you who have already given so generously, and to all of you for considering this request for additional funds!

Recent faculty publications see all

Improvisational Islam

Nur Amali Ibrahim,
Improvisational Islam: Indonesian Youths in a Time of Possibility
(Cornell University Press, 2018)

History of the Church

Jeremy Schott,
The History of the Church: A New Translation
(University of California Press, 2019)