George Hall Dinner Celebrates Student Achievement

Posted on May 10th, 2019 by

On Thursday, May 9 the Religion Department hosted the annual George Hall Dinner. Named in honor of a former religion professor, the dinner is a time to honor students, celebrate excellence in the study of religion, and learn from scholars and pracitioners about the importance of religion in the world.  The dinner annually honors junior and senior students who have demonstrated excellence in the academic study of religion.

Newly inducted into Gustavus’ branch of the Theta Alpha Kappa National Honor Society for Religious Studies and Theology were, Nicholas Beck, Rachel Larson, Megan Nowariak, Matthew Ouren, Lilly Soderburg, Alex Theship-Rosales, Alyssa Welle, and Michaela Zachman.

Students celebrate induction into TAK National Honor Society.

The department also recognized three outstanding senior students with prizes.

Zachary Croonquist, was recognized by the department for his significant contributions as a student and academic assistant to the life of the department.

Croonquist receives “Flamekeeper Award”

Michelle Simms was awarded the Theta Alpha Kappa prize for her scholarly contributions to the department, particularly her senior thesis “Cultivating a Renewed Environmental Ethic Using Luther’s Doctrine of finitum capax infiniti.”

Simms receives TAK Award from the Gustavus Chapter.

Megan Eide was awarded the annual George Hall Prize in recognition of her academic excellence in the study of religion. In addition to strong work in her religion courses—including a self-designed independent study as part of a semester study away in Denmark—Megan is in the process of revising her senior thesis, an analysis of portrayals of religious holidays in children’s media, into an academic article.

Eide receives George Hall Award

Dr. John Person (State University of New York, Albany) delivered the annual George Hall Lecture, “From Gustavus to the Study of Fascism.”  A Religion Major from the Class of 2002, Dr. Person recounted his personal trajectory from Gustavus, to graduate studies at the University of Chicago,  to current professor and expert in the field of interwar Japanese fascism.  His reflections highlighted the quality and liveliness of his early interactions in the Religion Department with Professors Garret Paul, John Cha, and Andrew Vaughn — as well as his continuing discovery of Paul Granlund’s sculpture from Gustavus, to Chicago, to Japan.  He urged students to reflect on what they have learned in the study of religion and to use their education well in a world where the political and economic marginalization of arbitrarily defined groups of people (Dr. Person’s working definition of fascism) remains a significant part of global politics.

Dr. John Person, ’02 (State University of New York, Albany) delivers George Hall Lecture

The department was especially honored to host faculty from other departments for the dinner and lecture, including Profs. Florence Amamoto, David Obermiller, and Lianying Shan; as well as emeritus colleague in the Religion Department, Prof. Darrell Jodock.

Each year, the George Hall dinner provides the department an opportunity to gather, to celebrate, and to reflect on what we study and why it matters. This year in particular, the department was able to do so with a cohort of graduating seniors notable for their hard work, dedication, and intellectual curiosity. For all that this group has brought to the department and will in the coming years bring to the world, we are grateful.   (~ Sarah Ruble; ed. cde)


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