Undergraduate teaching for the Fall/Winter session is at an end, the marks are safely gathered in, and the University is moving to the gentler rhythms of the Spring and Summer terms. We can pause for a moment to reflect on the achievements of this academic year so far before we turn to our research and writing projects that will fill the coming months.
Sheryl Dick: 25 Glorious Years of Outstanding Service
On April 18, our department Administrator, Sheryl Dick, celebrated twenty-five years at McMaster--all of them in Religious Studies! We were able to surprise Sheryl with a small celebration in the office complete with balloons, flowers, and cupcakes baked by our own Doreen Drew. Above, you can see Sheryl was genuinely surprised by the event. Top-right is a picture of our departmental "Dream Team"--Sheryl, Doreen, and Jennifer Nettleton. Congratulations, Sheryl and heartfelt thanks for your years of cheerful dedication to our students, staff and faculty. Sheryl is also well-known and appreciated beyond our department and was also nominated for a President’s Award for Outstanding Service in 2012.
Department Retreat on Undergraduate Program
As part of our ongoing commitment to excellence in our undergraduate program and in response to suggestions in our recent IQAP review, the department held a very successful retreat on undergraduate teaching in early May. There, we enjoyed a day of fruitful discussion and implemented some major changes to our program that we think will make it easier for program students to navigate our requirements, and attract more students into the program. We approved significant changes to our undergraduate calendar that will go forward to the Faculty level for discussion and in September. We are very encouraged by the new possibilities for students in Religious Studies, our numerous combined-honours students, and the many students who minor in our program. Please stay tuned for news of exciting changes coming to our undergraduate program.
Conference Papers and Invited Talks
Zdravko Planinc gave a talk on "Plato's Resistance to Platonism: Contra Badiou, Bloom et al.," to the Political Science Department, University of Hawai'i-Manoa.
Celia Rothenberg was a guest speaker at the "Text and Context Symposium" at the Department of Religious Studies, Memorial University. The invitation came from Jennifer Selby, who took her PhD from our department and is now a tenured professor at Memorial.
Mark Rowe's talk "Thick Conversations: Toward a Dialogical Theory of Japanese Buddhism" at Harvard had to be cancelled at short notice. The university was closed due to a manhunt for suspects in the bombing of the Boston Marathon. The talk will be rescheduled.
Eileen Schuller spoke on "Hymnic Poetry in Second Temple Judaism: Continuity and Change" at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Graduate Student Scholarships
Mary Margaret Scammell Travel Scholarships were awarded to Michael Agnew (PhD Candidate, Western) and Miriam DeCock (PhD student, Biblical).
Graham Baker (PhD student, Western) was awarded a SSHRC Doctoral Canada Graduate Scholarship.
Michael Agnew, Stephanie Balkwill (PhD Candidate, Asian), Jordan DeJonge (MA student, Western), Jessica Fish (MA student, Asian), Ronnie Jawdi (PhD student, Biblical) were awarded Ontario Graduate Scholarships.
Congratulations to all our outstanding graduate students!
Graduate Student Publications and Presentations
Kim Beek (PhD Candidate, Asian) gave a presentation on Buddhism in Canada at the Farm Credit Canada national office in Regina, SK as part of the FCC's Employment Equity and Diversity programming.
Undergraduate Research Award
Andrew Case (Arts & Science) was awarded an Undergraduate Student Research Award to work on "St. Francis of Assisi as alter Christus" with Peter Widdicombe this summer.
And Finally. . .
Thanks for reading April's News from the Chair.
Be seeing you!
James A. Benn