Emory University awarded 4,572 degrees at its 170th commencement exercises on Monday, May 11, as the Class of 2015 celebrated their graduation. Commencement began with an all-school ceremony on Emory’s Quadrangle, which featured an address by renowned author and human rights advocate Sir Salman Rushdie, University Distinguished Professor at Emory.

At the all-school ceremony, retiring Bandy Professor of Preaching Thomas G. Long was awarded this year’s Emory’s Scholar/Teacher Award. The award is given on behalf of the United Methodist Church Board of Higher Education and Ministry to an Emory faculty member who has demonstrated exceptional teaching, concern for students and colleagues, and made significant contributions to the scholarly life of the university.

“He is widely regarded as the pre-eminent figure in this field, and his citizenship as a member of the faculty has been exemplary. . . . He is a recognized leader in every respect, who, at the same time, is always willing to serve the collective,” Candler Dean Jan Love noted in a letter nominating Long for the award. “For these reasons, he is a model of what it means to be a scholar/teacher.”

Afterward, Candler graduates moved to Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church for their diploma ceremony. Candler conferred a total of 138 degrees this year, which included 102 Master of Divinity, 13 Master of Theology, 18 Master of Theological Studies, two Master of Theological Studies/Juris Doctor, one Master of Theological Studies/Master of Public Health, and two Doctor of Theology degrees.

In her opening remarks, Dean Jan Love recognized four departing faculty members: David W. Key, director of Baptist studies, who will work in the University of Georgia Public Service and Outreach Division, alongside his role as founding pastor of the Lake Oconee Community Church; Andrea C. White, assistant professor of theology and culture, who has taken a full-time appointment at Union Theological Seminary in New York; Bishop Mack B. and Rose Stokes Professor of Theology Ian A. McFarland, associate dean of faculty and academic affairs, who has been appointed the Regius Professor of Divinity at the University of Cambridge; and Bandy Professor of Preaching Thomas G. Long, who will direct a new Candler initiative aimed at helping recent alumni become leaders in their communities.

The dean named Associate Professor of Christian Ethics and Conflict Transformation Ellen Ott Marshall as the School of Theology’s recipient of the Emory Williams Teaching Award, the highest teaching award granted by the University. The award honors faculty for fostering participation, inquiry, and creative expression in the classroom, providing a model for teaching and scholarship, and serving as a mentor to students. Dean Love also presented the Exemplary Teacher Award, sponsored by the United Methodist General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, to retiring Bandy Professor of Preaching Thomas G. Long. This award recognizes outstanding faculty members for their contributions to the learning arts and to the institution. 

In her formal address, Dean Love acknowledged Candler’s yearlong Centennial celebration, which came to an end with commencement, and the many contributions that Candler’s ‘centennial class’ has brought to the school and university, including inspirational worship and preaching, and active community engagement regarding issues of social justice and creation care.

Love also read from Acts 17:6-7, noting that authorities in the Greek town of Thessalonica accused Paul and the disciples for “turning the world upside down” and “saying that there is another king named Jesus.”

“The world needs your committed and fervent daily demonstration that there is another king named Jesus,” Love said. “Go spread the good news of love, grace, hope, and restored relationships. You stand in a long line of leaders educated at Candler School of Theology – one hundred years’ worth of leaders – who turned the world upside down in Jesus’ name.”