CST to Honor National Figures at Commencement

Tuesday, February 21, 2012 at 10:29AM

Bill McKibben, renowned climate change activist and author will be the 2012 Commencement Speaker and will be awarded an honorary doctorate. Sharon Watson Fluker will also be awarded an honorary doctorate for her accomplishments in mentoring and securing fellowships for theological doctoral students from diverse backgrounds.

McKibben to Speak at Commencement

Bill McKibbenBill McKibben, renowned climate change activist and author, will be the 2012 Commencement Speaker for Claremont School of Theology. Commencement will take place Tuesday, May 15, at 8:30 a.m. on the chapel lawn. The public is invited.

Full details about 2012 Commencement

As a part of Commencement, CST will award McKibben an honorary doctorate for his important and critical leadership in fighting the human causes of global climate change.

"We could not have found a better speaker for the academic year in which CST co-founded Claremont Lincoln University," said Dean Philip Clayton. "McKibben is one of the most inspiring and successful activists in the U.S., and he has built a network that includes most countries and most religions of the world. At the same time, he is a committed United Methodist whose faith serves as an deep inspiration for his work."

McKibben is the author of a dozen books about the environment, beginning with The End of Nature in 1989, which is regarded as the first book for a general audience on climate change. His latest book is Eaarth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet, in which he spells Earth with two a’s to emphasize the different planet it will become as a result of global warming.

As he has pointed out, "There are no grounds for optimism in this fight against the weather. So far we've only increased the temperature of the planet about a degree, and that's been enough to set the Arctic to melting, turn the ocean 30% more acidic and make the atmosphere about 4% wetter, loading the dice for floods. Climatologists predict that unless we kick oil, gas and coal habits very, very fast, the increase in temperature will be 4 or 5 degrees before the century is out. If one degree does the damage we're seeing at the moment, we'd be fools to find out what 4 degrees will look like."

McKibben is currently the lead environmentalist fighting against the proposed Canadian-U.S. Keystone XL pipeline project. He is a founder of the grassroots climate campaign 350.org, which has coordinated 15,000 rallies in 189 countries since 2009. Time Magazine called him "the planet's best green journalist" and the Boston Globe said in 2010 that he was "probably the country's most important environmentalist."

The Schumann Distinguished Scholar at Middlebury College, McKibben is a Harvard graduate and holds honorary degrees from a dozen colleges. He has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship as well as a Lyndhurst Fellowship, and is a fellow at the Post Carbon Institute. In 2011 he was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Fluker to Receive Honorary Doctorate

Sharron Watson FlukerClaremont School of Theology will award Sharon Watson Fluker an honorary doctorate during Commencement for her extraordinary dedication and accomplishments in mentoring and securing fellowships for theological doctoral students from diverse backgrounds. That honor will be preceded by a special reception for Fluker on Monday evening May 14, from 7:30-9:00 p.m. in Haddon Conference Center. All are invited.

"Dr. Fluker has had an exceptionally wide impact on theological education," said Claremont President Jerry Campbell, "especially for African Americans and other people of color in the religious academy, including some of our own faculty, students, and alumni/ae. We are honored and delighted that she is joining us so we can recognize and celebrate her work."

Fluker is currently Senior Advisor for the Salzburg Global Seminar-Mellon Fellows Community Initiative, Washington D.C./Salzburg, Austria, where she is developing strategy and concepts for a Global Education Consortium of 40 historically Black and Appalachian colleges.

Before that, she was Vice President of Doctoral Programs and Administration for the Fund for Theological Education (FTE) from 1998 through 2011. Under her leadership, FTE awarded more than 400 fellowships to doctoral students from diverse backgrounds with aspirations to teach in the theological academy.

Fluker didn’t just leave the scholarship recipients to their own devices, however. She also created new leadership development and recruitment programs to assist them, and she encouraged them when they were feeling overwhelmed. Her words, “Do it for the People,” became a mantra for her charges, and her track record is exceptional. Today, 79 percent of students receiving support from FTE Doctoral Fellowship Programs since 1998 are professors in theological schools or universities; 21 percent serve as leaders in church-related or nonprofit settings.

Before joining FTE, Fluker was an Academic Dean for the University of Rochester in New York. She received her B.A. in Political Science from Spellman College, and her M.A. and Ph.D. in Urban Politics from Northwestern University. She also serves on the Board of Chicago Theological Seminary, and has received many awards and fellowships over her illustrious career. She has published and lectured widely in the areas of theological education, diversity, and black politics.

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