Students Select Lib Caldwell to be Commencement Speaker


McCormick Theological Seminary will have its 180th Commencement on May 10, 2014 at St. Thomas the Apostle Roman Catholic Church at 1:00 p.m.

President Yamada is also pleased to announce that the Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Caldwell, the Harold Blake Walker Professor of Pastoral Theology, will bring this year's address. The title of her address is: “more than one story.”

Last year, Dr. Caldwell announced that she would be retiring following the 2013–14 academic year, though as she admits, her service and engagement with the McCormick community will never really end. She has served on the faculty at McCormick for thirty years, arriving in 1984. She possesses a Bachelor of Arts degree from Rhodes College, a Masters of Education from Vanderbilt University, and she received her Ph.D. from Northwestern University through a joint program with Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois. She also received an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Rhodes College.

President Yamada made this announcement to the McCormick community after polling the graduates for their top choice among potential graduation speakers. He said, "Every year our students ask for some of the top national religious figures to speak at commencement; and this year, they not only selected another distinguished candidate, but they also chose to hear from their beloved teacher and mentor."

Dr. Caldwell is a nationally recognized Christian educator, teacher, and scholar. She has authored six books and several study guides, bible studies, and educational curricula. Her scholarship has always been in service to congregations, focusing on topics such as teaching the Bible among children, the spirituality of youth, and families and congregations living with diversity. Her most recent book, God’s Big Table, Nurturing Children in a Diverse World (Pilgrim’s Press, 2011) provides clergy and congregational leaders with resources for how to help young people engage the rich diversity of God’s world.

An active and distinguished leader in the academy and church, Dr. Caldwell is a member of the Association of Professors and Researchers in Religious Education (APRRE) and the Association of Presbyterian Church Educators (APCE). In 2004, APCE presented her with the Educator of the Year award. In 2008, she was elected to serve on the board of the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Dr. Caldwell has also served as an editor for the Common English Bible and Daily Feast, a devotional companion to Westminster John Knox Press’ wildly successful lectionary commentary series, Feasting on the Word.

To the McCormick Seminary community Dr. Caldwell is best known for her creative teaching, her care for all students, her wonderful hospitality and collegiality, and her attention to processes that seek to open up everyone in the room. It is not uncommon to walk into her courses and find student art strung across the walls of her class. Fabrics and paints are just as much of a staple in a “Lib classroom” as computers and paper. She has distinguished herself as one of the best teachers at McCormick Seminary and in the PCUSA.

Upon the vote of the board of trustees on May 2, 2014, the Rev. Dr. Elizabeth F. Caldwell was awarded the title of Professor Emerita of Pastoral Theology to recognize her distinguished 30-year career at McCormick Theological Seminary.