A Message from Rabbi Richard S. Sarason, Ph.D., Director of the Pines School of Graduate Studies

Richard S. Sarason

Dear Students, Faculty, Alumni, and Friends of the Pines School of Graduate Studies,

Spring is finally, albeit still somewhat tentatively, here! As I write these words, we are about to begin our Pesach break and have just finished celebrating Founders’ Day, where honorary DD’s were awarded to rabbis who have been out in the field for a quarter century. In the Pines School of Graduate Studies, we award the Graduate Medallion at graduation exercises to those Ph.D. alumni who have led distinguished careers for a quarter century and who have given back generously to the Graduate School, including by raising disciples. This year we will once again be able to award the Graduate Medallion in person to two alumni: James E. Bowley, ’92, department chair and professor of Religious Studies at Millsaps College in Jackson, MS, has sent us several students over the years and has rendered particularly distinguished service for almost 13 years on the HUC-JIR Board of Governors as a staunch advocate for the Graduate School and for the faculty. His was an important voice when the Board was considering the status of faculty tenure at HUC-JIR going forward. He has also written many columns for this newsletter. Stephen J. Andrews ’95, Professor of Hebrew and Old Testament at Midwestern Baptist Seminary in Kansas City, MO, has published, taught, and lectured extensively. He also has excavated at sites in Israel and Jordan. We look forward to honoring these two distinguished alumni of the Graduate School. We will also be awarding the Ph.D. to Eric Barrios, one of Prof. Nili Fox’s last dissertation students (with another one finishing up in time for next year’s graduation).

And speaking of Prof. Fox, HUC Press this fall published a Festschrift in her honor that was edited by three of her former doctoral students, Kristine Hendriksen Garroway ’09, Christine Elizabeth Palmer ’15, and Angela Roskop Erisman ’08. Thirteen of Prof. Fox’s former students and two of her faculty colleagues contributed the essays that make up this volume, The Body: Lived, Cultured, Adorned: Essays on Dress and the Body in the Bible in Honor of Nili S. Fox. Joan Pines contributed a foreword, reflecting warmly on her years of partnership and friendship with Prof. Fox. The entire list of contributions and contributors to the volume appears in the “Presentations and Publications” tab of this newsletter. We are so proud of our alumni who chose to honor their devoted teacher this way.

Prof. Fox received her copy of the Festschrift at the PSGS luncheon, which resumed in person this past November at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion-Society of Biblical Literature in Denver. We were delighted to greet so many of you face-to-face after the two-year online hiatus due to COVID.

Graduate students this year are serving for the first time in mentored teaching positions at Xavier University as well as in the “veteran” positions at the University of Dayton and the Methodist Theological School in Ohio. This opportunity for hands-on mentoring and observation of teaching is invaluable. We continue to provide a series of professional development workshops for graduate students.  In February, Dr. Angela Erisman led a workshop on preparing a manuscript to submit for publication. In April, Dr. Daniel Fisher-Livne, our newest faculty member in Hebrew Bible and Biblical Interpretation, who previously had served as a research affiliate at the National Humanities Alliance in Washington, DC and is well versed in the issues and practices of publicly engaged humanities, will lead a workshop on career development from this perspective, encouraging students to think broadly about employment opportunities. Dr. Fisher chaired a session on this topic at the annual AAR meeting this past fall. Dr. Dean Nicholas ’00 will also share his perspectives on the subject.

The Pines School of Graduate Studies is currently undergoing an academic program assessment to determine directions for its future. The assessment likely will conclude sometime in the early fall. Provost Andrea Weiss will communicate with all stakeholders when there is more to report. Pursuant to this program assessment, the PSGS paused admissions for the academic year 2023-24. Current students (including those who began their studies in the program during the current academic year) will be supported through the conclusion of their work; that is an ironclad institutional commitment.

As Michael Graves, current president of the PSGS Alumni Association, notes in his column here, we still have need for alumni mentors for our students in course. Please consider volunteering to do this—-you will enjoy working with your future colleagues, and they can learn much from you. Similarly, your contributions to the PSGS Scholarship Fund continue to support our students in course. Giving back—in any form—is one of the most gracious things that each of us can do, a true act of ḥesed ve’emet.