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Department of Religious Studies Awards Ceremonies

2017
 Award Winners

The 2017 Awards Ceremony and Graduation Party was held on Thursday, April 27 at UT’s McClung Museum.  The Guest of Honor was Dr. Marisa Moazen, Director of Undergraduate Research, Office of Research & Engagement.  Also present (right front) were Lillian Mashburn, chair of the Department Board of Visitors, Joan Riedl, former department secretary (1976-2010), who presented the Joan Riedl Book Award, and (left) emeritus professor John Hodges, member of the Board of Visitors. Department head, Professor Rosalind I. J. Hackett is seen addressing students, faculty, and guests.

Outstanding Senior in the Department of Religious Studies

  • Landry Austin

Undergraduate Research Award

  • Nathaniel Choi

Professional Promise Award

  • Madeline Stinnett

Award in the Study of Asian Religions

  • Landry Austin

Religious Studies Achievement Award

  • Kelci Beavers

Religious Studies Ambassador Award

  • Mary Ripley

Religious Studies Minor Award

  • Vipsa Patel
  • Kristen Langford

Outstanding Participation Award

  • Aaron Seneker

The Joan Riedl Book Award

  • Abigail Brennan

Dr. Rubin P. Robinson Scholarship in Judaic Studies

  • Brandon McWhirter

Fern and Manfred Steinfeld Scholarship in Judaic Studies

  • Brandon McWhirter

The F. Stanley Lusby and John O. Hodges Teaching Award

  • Dr. Emily Johnson

Head’s Special Recognition Award

  • Dr. Randal Hepner

2016 Award Winners

  • Outstanding Senior: Taylor Thomas
  • Undergraduate Research Award: Taylor Thomas
  • Leadership Award: Taylor Thomas
  • Professional Promise Award: Robert Cremins
  • Judaic Studies Award:  Hannah Bowling
  • Award in American Religions: Johnathan Clayton
  • Award in Asian Religions: Mia Strong
  • Achievement Award: Sharena Domingo
  • Minor Award: Sara Poarch
  • Joan Riedl Book Award: Landry Austin (junior)
  • Head's Special Commendation Award: Mary Ripley

  • Religious Studies Professional Promise Award:  Allie Bays
  • Religious Studies Award in Asian Religions:  Justin Lawrence
  • Outstanding Senior in Religious Studies Award:  Kim Johnson
  • Judaic Studies Award:  Lillian Dropkin
  • Religious Studies Service Award:  Joshua Elliott
  • Religious Studies Leadership Award:  Taylor Flatt
  • Religious Studies Achievement Award:  Charles Mitchell
  • The Joan Riedl Book Award:  Robert Cremins
  • Religious Studies Minor Award:  Felipe Oliveira
  • Lusby and Hodges Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research: Felipe Oliveira,
  • Lusby and Hodges Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research: Robert Cremins
  • Lusby and Hodges Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research: Kirby Trovillo

Other Graduating Students:

  • Sam Williams
  • Caleb Peterson
  • John Ahn
  • Frank Gawryla
  • Laquisha Dowell

The Fourth Annual Awards Ceremony and Graduation Party took place on Thursday, April 24, 2014, in the Executive Dining Room at the University Center. The 2014 awards were presented by Bill Morris, member of the Board of Visitors.

  • Joan Riedl Book Award: Justin Lawrence 
  • Outstanding Senior in Religious Studies Award: Jessica MacArthur
  • Religious Studies Professional Promise Award:  Blaire Hamilton
  • Religious Studies Professional Promise Award:  George Groh
  • Islamic Studies Award: Stuart England
  • Faculty Choice Award: Laquisha Dowell
  • Judaic Studies Award: Tami Newsom
  • Religious Studies Service Award: Wade Scofield
  • Religious Studies Leadership Award: Blaire Hamilton
  • Research in Religious Studies Award: Hannah LaPrise
  • Religious Studies Achievement Award: Daniel Roberts
  • Religious Studies Achievement Award: Grant Caldwell
  • Religious Studies Minor Award:  Lisa Dicker 

Brief but exciting research presentations were given by George Groh, Blaire Hamilton, Wade Scofield, and Hannah LaPrise.  In addition, all graduating seniors received a red carnation.  Associate Dean Christine Boake from the College of Arts and Sciences gave the closing remarks.  Lillian Mashburn, chair of the Board of Visitors, was also in attendance, along with fellow Board members, John Hodges, Ralph Norman, and Bill Morris.  As usual, a tasty reception closed the event.

On Thursday, April 25, 2013, the Department of Religious Studies held its Third Annual Awards Ceremony and Graduation Party at the Black Cultural Center. The 2013 awards were presented by Arnold Cohen, Esq., a loyal member of the Board of Visitors:

  • Outstanding Senior in the Department of Religious Studies: Alissa Reeves
  • Department of Religious Studies Award for Professional Promise: Jeremy Russell
  • Religious Studies Association Leadership Award:  Nikki Swartwood 
  • Department of Religious Studies Award for Outstanding Outreach: Brook Conner
  • Outstanding Minors in Religious Studies: Allen Wilson and Chris Burgess

The Joan Nicoll Riedl Book Award for 2013 was presented by Joan Riedl to Blaire Hamilton. The award supports a rising major in Religious Studies.  This was followed by short presentations by Religious Studies majors and awardees: Jeremy Russell, Nikki Swartwood, and Alissa Reeves.  Final remarks were made by Associate Dean Cynthia Peterson before the delectable reception. Several members of the Board of Visitors were present.

Blaire Hamilton Award Winners Jeremy Russell & Nikki Swartwood

The Department’s 2011-2012 Awards Ceremony and Graduation Party took place on Thursday, April 26, in the Executive Dining Room (3rd floor) of the University Center.  The event served to honor all of our graduating seniors and awards were distributed to the following students.  

  • Outstanding Senior in the Department of Religious Studies: David Burman
  • Outstanding Service to the Department of Religious Studies: Naima Cortez
  • Department of Religious Studies Award for Professional Promise: Jeremiah Thomas
  • Religious Studies Association Leadership Award:  Jeremy Russell
  • Joan Riedl Book Award:  Jeremy Russell
  • Outstanding Minor in Religious Studies:   Luke Waring
  • Department of Religious Studies Award for Excellence in Judaic Studies:  Amanda Capannola

Jim Harb, one of our most devoted and active members of the Board of Visitors, presented the awards. In addition to the awards ceremony, David Burman gave a short presentation on his honors thesis.  David Burman was also the first recipient of the Joan Riedl book award in 2011. The evening ended with a reception attended by students, faculty, members of the Board of Visitors, friends of the department, and family members. 

The first ever Department of Religious Studies Honors Thesis Showcase Symposium took place on Thursday, April 28th, 2011 in the Haslam Business Building. It was preceded by an open house in the department that was attended by parents, members of the Board of Visitors, university administrators, and friends of the department. Three graduating seniors -- Jenny Bledsoe, Justin Crisp, and Casey Woolf-- presented their Religious Studies Honors theses research on the following topics:
"Enforcing and Subverting Orthodoxy: Narratives of the Life of St Margaret of Antioch in Late Medieval England", "Liturgical Drag, and the Politics of Gender in the Anglican Church," and "Christ Nazified: the History and Legacies of Christian Anti-Judaism in the German Church Struggles of the 1930s.”

This was followed by the Department Awards Ceremony.  The following awards were presented by Interim Dean Hap McSween.  Members of the Board of Visitors and family members of the awardees were present:

  • Jenny Bledsoe:  Outstanding senior, with Award for Excellence in Research and Outstanding Thesis.
  • Justin Crisp:  Outstanding senior, with Award for Professional Promise.
  • Casey Woolf:  Outstanding senior, with Recognition as Outstanding Graduate
  • David Burman:  Joan Riedl Book Award
  • Whitney Buchanan: Outstanding Outreach Award
  • Amy Canter:  Religious Studies Association Leadership Award
  • Jeremy Spiers:  Outstanding Service Award
  • Jayanni Webster:  Outstanding Volunteer Award

Students received commemorative plaques and a department T-shirt.  They were also treated to dinner with some members of the faculty and the Board of Visitors.


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